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Day trip to D-Day beaches from Paris

Can anyone recommend a good tour for taking a day trip to the D-Day beaches or are we better off finding our own way? Is there an Australian equivalent to the American cemetery that is featured in Saving Private Ryan?

Cheers
Sam

Posted by
9110 posts

I've poked around Normandy off and on for years and am just about positive there are no dedicated Australian cemeteries. Many Australian graves in the Commonwealth cemeteries, however.

Posted by
21846 posts

Sam, when I first visited the beaches I was surprised at the size of the area. The beaches themselves are over 50 miles from one end to the other end. Then all the stuff behind the beaches which cover another wast area. I am not sure what I was expecting but I was not expecting so much stuff scattered over such a big area. And Paris is a long ways away. If you only have a day from Paris the best you could do would be to concentrate on one corner or a small section. To see it well, you really need an overnight.

Posted by
12040 posts

Not really recommended as a daytrip, as the commute is too long. I have never taken it, but the most commonly referenced tour, Battlebus, requires you to stay the night in the Normandy region. If you drive in the summer, you might just be able to see a few of the beaches quickly, otherwise, it really isn't feasible to visit the region on a daytrip.

Posted by
359 posts

Sam, I wouldn't try a day trip to Normandy from Paris either, even as a previous visitor familiar with the area. One overnite in Caen/Bayeux should do it and with adequate prior research you probably could do it on your own with a car rented at Caen. I hear the organized tours are pretty slick, though, and at reasonable cost.

Check on the website for "Commonwealth War Graves Commission" (CWGC) sites in Normandy. That's where the ANZAC boys will be buried with the all too many other Brits/Commonwealth casualties. I'm familiar with the Bretteville-Sur-Laize CWCG cemetary near Caen because of family connections but there are several others in the area.

You'll see on the CWGC site you can do searches by name/war/service/cemetary/?? which should get you going in the right direction(s) using the driving instructions on the site. Good luck, Geoff

Posted by
11450 posts

Sam,, as others said,, a daytrip is not ideal,, but if you really want to see the d Day Beaches,, and truly can only spare one day, there are bus tours from Paris. They are expensive, but at least you can sleep on the bus.

Tours are offered by Cityrama and Parisvisions, both reputable companies. Just google them.

Posted by
31516 posts

Sam,

As the others have said, a "day trip" to Normandy is not the easiest solution. If you did use Paris Vision or one of the other firms, it's unlikely that any of their stops would be at Australian cemetery sites.

You might want to check the battlebus.fr website to see if they have any tours that cover the areas you're interested in. They DO require tour members to stay in Bayeux the night prior to the tour, as they depart at 08:00 PRECISELY and it's difficult to get there from Paris by that time.

The main Canadian cemetery is at Beny sur Mer (which is a few miles inland from Bernieres sur Mer) but I can't recall if it's a "Commonwealth" site or just Canadian? There are memorials and cemeteries all over Normandy, and I'm sure the BattleBus Guides would know where they are.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
977 posts

Sam we are doing a D Day/Normany tour from Paris in September. I am booking with a company called Viatour. I realise it's a long day and not cheap, but this is the only alternative for us as we don't want to drive in Europe. Our first preference, as Aussies, would have been to go to Villers Bretonneux. However, this would require hiring a car.

Posted by
11450 posts

Judy,, Viatour is not a company. It is an agency the sells other companies tours. Perhaps you should find out which company they are using. Sometimes the price comparision is surprising.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you, that's given me alot to think about and I'm happy to do a bit of researching. My husband would also like to visit Villers-Bretonneux so perhaps renting a car for the day and heading there would be a better idea.

Posted by
22 posts

Judy, I'd love to hear how the D-Day tour goes and whether you think it was worth it. The other place I guess Aussies are interested in is Frommelles, especially with the identification and reburial of previously unidentified soldiers - it's a long way from Paris though.

Posted by
88 posts

Hi Sam, Check out Victory Tours (http://lignerolles.homestead.com/victorytours.html). I took a full-day tour from them in June (as a day-trip from Paris) & found it really enjoyable. It is timed to begin after the first train departs Paris, so you don't need to spend the night there the night prior. You do the transportation portion on your own. For me, this was a plus, since I had a rail pass. If you don't, the price might be about the same as one of the companies departing from Paris. I doubt the tours leaving Paris are as good as Victory Tours, but they are probably more convenient transportation-wise.

Posted by
977 posts

Thanks for the information re Viatour. I will endeavour to find out which tour group/s they use and try to do some comparative pricing. Will let you know Sam when we get back out thoughts on the D-Day tour. Haven't completely given up on visiting Villiers Bretonneux. Still researching.

Posted by
977 posts

My persistence paid off. For anyone interested in visiting the Western Front battle sites, I found a company owned and operated by two Aussies - Western Front Tours. They do day tours from the town of Arras which is easily and quickly accessed by TGV from Paris.

Posted by
26 posts

Sam,A day trip from Paris to even scratch the surface of the D-Day beaches is a waste of time&money.At least 1 night in Normandy is the minimum you would need. As far as I am aware there were no Australian units involved in D-Day,individuals perhaps but no units. However,Australian units had a major role on the Western Front in WW1 (as well as Gallipoli in the Dardanelles)and her soldiers are buried from Ypres in Belgium down to the Somme in France near Arras&Albert.A day trip from Paris to the Somme area is practical (start early) There are no Australian cemeteries by themselves that I am aware of but there are ones where Australians make up a goodly number of the graves.Your own tourist (govt)people should be able to give you info. before you leave home. A very good source of info. is Major&Mrs.Holt who have been doing this kind of thing for years.They will answer questions for you at no charge and their many guidebooks are excellent! I have used two of them.They are at www.guide-books.co.uk If you had a relative involved in WW1 or WW2 use the CWGC site at www.cwgc.org or Google them.Hope you have a great trip,I will be there in Sept.
Regards,John

Posted by
977 posts

There is a significant Australian War Memorial and grave site at Villers-Bretonneux, a small French village near Arras which the ANZACS saved during WW1. The French were so thankful they put up a sign in the village school which says 'Never Forget Australia' The school was rebuilt from funds given by the Victorian Government. The school is named Victoria College. The main street is called Melbourne Road.
The best site for information and research is the Australian War Memorial web site.

Posted by
11450 posts

Judy,, thats great you finding this all out,, I am sure some you have done some other Australians a service,, just wish it was easier to do a search on RS helpline.

Posted by
7 posts

I also did the Viator bus trip and we enjoyed it - it was three hours one way - but, we really saw it - American Cemetery and a few of the beaches and it was nice to catch up on sleep on the bus.

Take care - Tami

Posted by
977 posts

Thanks Pat. I am so glad I discovered the Western Front Tours web site, which led to other links re this area. The Western Front to us is what Normandy is to Americans.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you for all the suggestions, we'll definitely be looking into the Western Front tours - the Somme and Fromelle ones in particular are of great interest to us.