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D-day half day tours

We are staying overnight two nights in Bayeux the first week of Dec. and we have a full day to split between the American cemetery/D-day beaches and the tapestry and Cathedral. I have the RS france book here, anyone have experience with the tours before I reserve?

Posted by
10344 posts

People posting here have consistently given Battlebus tours good reviews. They're out of Bayeux, where you're sleeping.

Posted by
8700 posts

Battlebus only does full day tours. Overlordtour does both morning and afternoon tours.

Posted by
30 posts

It seems they only provide full day tours, which is a bit more in depth than I wanted to do. wouldn't leave us any time to see the tapestry. :(

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, it's correct that Battlebus doesn't do half day tours. Many here have felt it was worth rearranging their schedule to do a full day. If you can't, there are other tours and here's a list of past reviews of the other tours of D-Day/Normandy that have been posted here in past: http://tiny.cc/kxhbq

Posted by
23472 posts

I think part of the problem is that most people, until they have been there, do not realize how massive the area is. The beach area, itself is over 50 miles long so it just takes time to see it all.

Posted by
10344 posts

I agree with Frank. Many travelers posting here who have taken the Battlebus tour(s) realized, afterward, that the area was too large and that a half day would have been satisfying and would have been going too fast since the area is large.

Posted by
173 posts

Battlebus and Overlord have gotten good reviews, but you should book soon! I'd check with both to make sure either isn't booked up. I tried to book about 2 months in advance for September and both were fully booked. We ended up doing a half day tour through the Caen Memorial Museum which was great.

Posted by
4411 posts

If I understand correctly that you only have one day - "we have a full day to split between the American cemetery/D-day beaches and the tapestry and Cathedral" - I'm feeling a bit panicky. ESP. during the first week of Dec = darkness and later opening times/earlier closing times. Get the correct FOR YOUR TRIP times and dates for these places. I'd squeeze the Cathedral in somewhere; it's smack-dab in the center of town, so you'll cross it a few times even with only 2 nights. I'd really like to say absolutely don't miss the Bayeux Museum of the Battle of Normandy AND cater-corner from it is the (British) Commonwealth War Cemetery - that's a must-see. Marker after marker reading "Known Unto God" will break your heart. I've recently come across some photos that I think you'll find interesting. BE SURE to click on the links at the bottom of the page to see many other fantastic photos: http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2009/06/05/the-65th-anniversary-of-d-day-on-the-normandy-beaches/306/

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you for all the input. I have done some research and that is why we decided to stay in Bayeux and not try to do a day trip from Paris. I know we can't see it all. Won't be able to fit in Mont St. Michel this trip. The overlord tours have a great website and I have sent off an inquiry about their openings for the day we are there. Hopefully there are not a ton of other people going over to freeze themselves in December!

Posted by
4411 posts

Even in Dec, get your hotel reserved ASAP, too! THEN buy your airline tickets LOL!

Posted by
28 posts

The Bayeux Tapestry only takes about an hour if you are paced by the audioguide that comes with your ticket, plus the people before and after you. We visited it upon arriving from Paris one afternoon. Next day we took the one day "American Experience" tour with Battlebus which only looked at Utah and Omaha beaches and the American cemetery. We both felt we should have signed up for the 2 day tour because so much was rushed or glossed over with the one day tour. The Battlebus guide was superb cramming us with all sorts of information regarding not only the strategy and tactics of the actual invasion, but its impact on the people and the aftermaths of the invasion upon them.

Posted by
19 posts

Our family did a BattleBus tour of the American sector. As a previous poster mentions, with all there is to see even a full day means relatively short visits to Utah and Omaha beaches, St. Mere Eglise and Airborne museum, American Cemetery. Our biggest regret from 12 days in Europe this summer (Paris and Munich in addition to Normandy) was not taking an extra day in Bayeux to explore more of the D-day sites at our own pace.

Posted by
30 posts

Evidently it is not that busy in December after all, the Overlord tours will not do a half day they wrote back and wanted us to book a private tour for a full day in the "low season". So I now have a inquiry out to Victory tours. And yes, Eileen we do have a room and the airline tickets I just hadn't gotten around to booking the tour.

Posted by
173 posts

True, there are so many places to visit when it comes to the landing beaches. If I had known how fantastic the Caen museum would be I would have spent less time at the Bayeux museum and taken the extra time to go on my own to Juno Beach. Next time we will definitely rent a car.

Posted by
30 posts

With everyone's enthusiastic reviews of the battlebus tours I finally took some time to read through their website and they were rather discouraging about touring in December. If the museums are closed and the weather could be really nasty there might not be as much to see as you would want to in the summer. So many different factors come into play, we won't have to fight the big crowds though there may be ice and windstorms! I am waiting to hear back from victory tours.

Posted by
10344 posts

Regarding the last post by Caryn: Yes, as far north in latitude as northern France is, the radically shorter amount of daylight in December is a factor that blindsides some travelers. Eileen has already alluded to this, and I thought I'd just add some specifics to how much less daylight you'll have to work with in December at that latitude. It's not good news, but better to know before you go. In the first week in December in northern France, the sun doesn't even come up until 8:30am! which blindsides some people assuming they would "get an early start" (doesn't work because you can't see anything). Sunset in early December occurs before 5pm, although it won't get totally dark right away because of "civil twilight." But basically in December you'll only have about 8 and 1/2 hours of daylight to see and do things requiring light. By comparison, if you were there in June you'd have about 16 hours of daylight with sunset not until 10pm; and in September you'd have about 12 hours of daylight. The short amount of daylight presents scheduling challenges to the December traveler (not to mention the typical weather near the English channel). At least there won't be crowds.

Posted by
4411 posts

To add to Kent's post - Normandy is like many other coastal areas: dreary gray skies, a wind that won't stop, blustery - and that's on a good day. Forget an umbrella; it'll be inside-out in a hurry. And that's in late summer! I can only imagine what it's like in Dec...Actually I can - I've just looked it up. As I've said...Rain, highs of 50s, and winds that average 10-20 MPH, plus gusts! And that's in Bayeux, not west and closer to the beaches you want to visit. (shivers) Bring serious rain gear. Only water-proof mascara ;-)

Posted by
85 posts

We stayed in Bayeux and did a Battlebus Tour in April 2008, and it was freezing! Even bundled up with jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves, we were pretty miserable. Perhaps you could visit the area on your next trip, when you really could "do it justice." Touring the Normandy Beaches is truly a sobering, not-to-be-missed experience. :)

Posted by
1035 posts

I did a Battlebus tour last October. It was around 60 degrees inland, but when we got out on those beaches, it was nippy._______ it was well worth it, one of my favorite travel experiences and I would do it again in any season, especially when you consider the amazing sacrifices of the men on that day. Just saying, dress warm, assume a 15 or more degree drop when near the water.

Posted by
10344 posts

Re the weather on the D-Day Beaches for your December trip, even in June the young men assaulting the beaches had lousy weather, plus lots worse problems to contend with than weather.

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you all for the input. I have a deposit in with Victory Tours for a half day, we can increase it to a full day if we want. Which we still might do, at least he was willing to do a half day tour, I am still debating how much history I can absorb if the weather is really nasty! At least we will get to go and see part of the area! Thanks again, Caryn

Posted by
143 posts

We did the one-day Battlebus American Experience tour a week ago. One of the guides told us that Battlebus was going out of business at the end of November (2010) and another one told us that Battlebus was "restructuring" as of then. So I don't know exactly what is happening, but apparently Battlebus will soon not be running as it has in the past.

Posted by
27 posts

We rented a car from Paris and drove to Bayeux and toured on our own. Used the RS France book as a guide to all the D-Day sites. What I liked is we had all the time we wanted to do and see everything we wanted, no schedule. Spent lots of time on the beaches as well as the cemetery. I'm sure the guided tours might know a little more but if you research what you want to see, you can do it yourself. Also the Tapestry was nice, it'll take you an hour or two to see the museum and it's within walking distance from all the hotels in Bayeux.