Normandy lodging

My husband and I are considering a fall trip (early October) to England (3-4 days) and then on to Holland to visit family for a week. We are both history buffs and would love to see Normandy and spend 2-3 days in that area. We'd have a car and are willing to drive but neither of us know any French and are a bit fearful of the area because lack of language knowledge. Of course we'll learn some basic phrases but probably will not have the knowledge of anything past "where is the bathroom?" or "do you speak English" Does any one have any suggestions as to good lodging where English is spoken? How about suggestions as to tour groups for Normandy? Is it better to join a tour of Normandy beaches or can this be done on our own?
Thanks!

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3209 posts

Bayeux is a charming town that makes a great base for visiting DDay sites. We love Hotel d'Argouges in the heart of town, where we've stayed more than 6 times. The owner, Mme Ropartz, and her staff are wonderful. Mme Ropartz speaks English well. I speak French so don't know about the staff, but I am sure they do. It's a beautiful manor house, with lovely gardens, parking, wonderful breakfast, large rooms, good beds, large bathrooms, very clean, and very inexpensive. I think you will find a lot of people in Normandy who speak English. I have always found everyone to be extremely warm, friendly and gracious. They have never forgotten what the Americans, British and Canadians did for them in WWII and they show it. We've done all the sites many times on our own, it's very easy. We did a one day guided tour and got a lot out of it. Doing both is ideal. You will get a lot of people recommending a tour, but if I had to choose just one, I prefer on our own. Do a lot of research beforehand. I like the freedom to spend as long as I want somewhere. Others can recommend tour co's or you can look in the Search box for old posts. The WWII museum in Bayeux is the best one of all imo. Driving in Normandy is super easy. There's a freeway, but we like the 2-lane country roads best. We love to explore and make lots of stops. Normandy is my favorite area of France (after Paris) and I think you will enjoy it immensely. Don't be fearful. Just learn basics in French: bonjour madame/monsieur and au revoir madame/monsieur (anytime you enter or leave), and merci. Relax and enjoy!

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

A "trifecta " again ! put me down for a third vote with Terry Kathryn and Susan !

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
892 posts

I definitely agree with Susan on Bayeux and her recommended hotel. We stayed there too and loved it. My husband knew minimal French, and it was no problem. People are so helpful and friendly. The roads are very easy to drive (as was said). The only thing I would disagree on is a tour - we did take a one-day tour and absolutely loved it! If I were to go back (which I do plan on doing) I would not take a tour - would do on my own, but for the first time it was absolutely fantastic! We had Dale Booth of Battlebus tours, and he now has his own business.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
495 posts

Just in case the Hotel mentioned by Susan and Sharon is booked, take a look at www.chateau-de-Sully.com/fr/ Not as expensive as you might think. Trust me, finding someone that speaks English will not be difficult. When we get lost in France, we look for a female ages 20-30, generally, they are shy and say their English is not that good, but they seem fluent to me. You'll be fine and if you are a WW II buff, you'll be in heaven. Rick S. covers this area in detail. Learn to trust him.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3209 posts

I didn't say don't do a tour. I said we did one and got a lot out of it. I said doing both is ideal. But if I had to choose only one...

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1012 posts

They gave you the best hotel choices! Side note: The people of Normandy are some of the friendliest people to Americans that we have ever met anywhere we've ever travelled. They all speak English. They have not forgotten the sacrifices U.S. soldiers made on their behalf. We saw school field trips going through the museum in Caen. Make sure you go there, and bring some kleenex. Very moving.

Posted by Sheri
Demotte, IN, USA
29 posts

Thanks for the input! I am excited to start planning our trip. Anyone out there have suggestions for 3 days in London or the London area?

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
307 posts

I agree about the town, the hotel choice and the museum, but I would encourage you to check and see if Dale Booth could accommodate you for a tour. I know others speak highly of some of the other small group tours as well. As history buffs, you can expand on your knowledge without getting turned around. Most if not all of these guides have had to pass exams to qualify and many of them have meet the men who were actually involved, so they have stories to share as weLl.