Traveling to Normandy

I am planning a trip to Normandy in May. I will be staying in Bayeux and plan to follow an itinerary in Rick Steves' Normandy Snapshot guide. One of the days will be spent visiting the American sector starting in Arromanches then following Rick's itinerary East. I would like to add Utah Beach and Ste Mere Eglise to his itinerary and I wonder if I can do all this in one day. The stops would be Arromanches, German Battery, American Cementery, Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Utah Beach, Ste Mere Eglise, German Cemetery at La Cambe, and back to Bayeux. Is this too ambitious? Thanks.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7972 posts

You don't have a prayer. One example: it takes two hours to drive from Bayeux to St Mere and back, without even stopping to look around.

Posted by Lew
Wake Forest, NC, United States
51 posts

Thanks for the reply but now I'm really confused. Using Google maps I plotted a point to point trip from Bayeux and returning. The total driving time is just under three hours. Allowing six hours for looking around it seems like I would have enough time. Any insight would be appreciated.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7972 posts

I can't fight your logic. All I can offer is that there's an internet and then there's people who can drive the area in their sleep without a map or gps. Here's a couple of more numbers using your math. Eight places in six hours is forty-five minutes at each stop. I have both pilot's and jump wings. I know more about amphibious warefare than the vast majority of people on the face of the earth. I think the museum at Saint Mere is horrible in its presentation. It still took me an hour to walk through it. If you park at the very front of the lot at the American Cemetery, you have a ten-minute walk up to where the displays are and ten minutes to walk back. You can't even take in the two main displays in the remaining twenty-five minutes. And good luck with front row parking. Give it try. Start early, work from east to west, saving Saint Mere until last if all you really want to see there is the parachute on the church roof. You might make it since there's fourteen or fifteen hours of daylight that time of year. But you're going to be pooped.

Posted by Deb
Jay, USA
16 posts

Not enough time. You will want two hours minimum for American Museum and Omaha Beach, more is better; Ste Mere Eglise has a fascinating museum that is worth a good 90 minutes. Also, there is a terrific DDay museum right in Bayeux, with a lovely English cemetery (with German soldiers graves as well) that you should see, too. For what you want to see, I would allow at least 3 days. My husband and I spent a week in Normandy two years ago, splitting up our time between WWII sights and William the Conqueror sightseeing and almost had time to do what we wanted.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1967 posts

The 1 day Overlord Tour we took did part of that, starting at 8 am and finishing at 6:30 pm in Bayeux. Add time for detailed explanations but subtract Arromanches and the German Cemetery. We had an hour for lunch in Ste. Mere, but no time for the museum at the American Cemetery. We were driven by a guide who knew the roads , didn't get lost or slow down to look at maps, and was able to tell us the history while toodling down the roads. I doubt you could do all that in one day on your own, a lot of it but not all.

Posted by Lew
Wake Forest, NC, United States
51 posts

To all who responded to my question. Thank you very much for your insight. It helps when people who really know what's going on can help you. I'm going to rearrange my trip accordingly. Again thank you all for your help.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8742 posts

I think that would be ambitious. One of the best, for me after Bayeux but before Caen and St Mere, museums about the invasion is the museum at Arromanches. It even has a super detailed large model of the Mulberry Port in top form. I was there nearly 4 hours. I didn't see it all. To try to do more than fly past and check things off a list is unlikely with your worthy list.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17745 posts

Lew, It's good to hear that you've decided to revise your Itinerary. I definitely agree with the others that your original plan was overly "ambitious", given the area you want to cover. It's important to allow adequate driving time between each location, including an allowance for possibly getting "lost" at least once (which has happened to me on occasion). As someone else mentioned, there's also a great WW-II Museum in Bayeux, and of course the famous Tapestry which depicts a much earlier battle. Regarding some of the places you mentioned: > German Battery - which "battery" are you referring to? If you mean the Batteries at Longues sur Mer, they're about a 15-20 minute drive outside of Bayeux, so easily visited. I'd allow at least an hour (if not a bit more). If you want to explore the Command Bunker (used in The Longest Day), be sure to take a Flashlight. > American Cemetery - I'd suggest allowing a bit of extra time. It's a very moving place, and you might find that you just want to sit for a few minutes and reflect, or walk along the path that overlooks Omaha Beach. > Omaha Beach - there's not really much to see on the beach itself, but a short visit is certainly worthwhile. > Pointe du Hoc - mostly a bunch of craters and a few gun emplacements and Widerstandsnests. The part with the memorial is usually closed due to "safety concerns". > St. Mere Eglise - you'll need at least an hour to visit both the Church (Pvt. Steele is still hanging on the Bell Tower) and the Airborne Museum across the street. The Museum is in two parts, with the roof of the buildings shaped like a parachute canopy. The Museums aren't large, but I thought they were well done. Happy travels!

Posted by Lew
Wake Forest, NC, United States
51 posts

Thanks for the input. I have added a day to the trip which will me two days to visit the sites I originally planned for one. Thanks again to all for the help.