I am going to be going to Normandy for the weekend. Does anyone have any good advice on what to see. I know that I will go see the WWII beaches and museum. Is it best to take a bus tour for that. I am taking a train from Paris to Normandy. Also, I would like to see St. Mont Michel and St. Malo. Any recommendations would be great. Thanks!
Mont St. Michel is incredible, but it's narrow confines become choked with day-trippers by mid-morning, especially on weekends. If you visit, consider staying the night, or arriving either first thing in the morning or late afternoon.
Rent a car. I stayed in Bayeux and drove to the beaches. You can spend as much or little time there as you want. Make sure you go to the WW2 museum in Caen. I started at the British/Canadian beaches and headed towards the American Beaches. There is a lt to see so it is good that you have a couple of days.
Last June our family stayed in Bayeux and took the Battlebus American Sector tour. It was fantastic! A highlight of our entire three week trip. My husband and I were traveling with our daughter, her husband and two teen-age daughters who were fascinated by the whole experience. The tours are smaller (eight people in mini-vans) and our guide wasn't just doing a job, but was passionate about the history of the area. He personally knew many of the veterans and told their stories that they had related to him. Our tour was one day, but Batlebus has many options for different sectors and two-day tours as well. You can get information on their website or in a RS guidebook of the area. We would do it again in a heartbeat. It was a deeply moving experience! I would do the one day tour then the next morning a short side trip to Mont St. Michel.
It is easy to take a train from Paris to Bayeux, then walk to your hotel or B&B. The town is great for strolling around, as it is very pretty and is undamaged from the war. Please, do take the Battlebus tours or one of the other ones on offer. You will never regret hearing these personal stories of sacrifice. Being in Normandy will mean so much more to you if you do some sort of tour. I like Battlebus, the tours are small, the guides are absolutely passionate about passing on information about this very important moment in the worlds history. We did the 2 day American Experience tour and would love to go back and do the Canadian and the British experience tours. They also have a Band of Brothers tour. D-Day was more than just about the beaches, and when you take the tours, you do go to all kinds of places that one might not find, if you were just on your own.
Thank you for all of the great advice. What do you think are the best sites of the WWII tours. I think we might only do a half day one and they all cover different sites. What were the most memorable for you? I know I want to see Omaha beach.
Also should we stay in Bayeaux and take the tours from there and then catch a train to Mt. Saint Michel? And stay in St. Milo. Does anyone know of any castles or other sites on the way there? Thanks!
Many travelers stay in Bayeux and use the Battlebus tour or one of the other tours listed in Rick's book France 2009. If you want to see Omaha Beach, you'll probably want to see the American Cemetery, which is above the beach. And the Canadian, German, and British cemeteries. And Pointe du Hoc, Ste Mere Eglise, Vierville-sur-Mer, and other sites are described in Rick's or other books.
Blair, you will have a busy weekend.
The Battlebus American Highlights tour is all day, but an extraordinary experience.
You need to get to Mont St. Michel early in the morning to get a good parking place and to see the tides come in (if possible). Then you would have time to leave fairly early and get to St. Malo. If spending the night, Hotel Elizabeth is a lovely small hotel with wonderful owners.
St. Malo is a very large town with the small fortified town at the far end of it. It's very nice to walk the ramparts and see the sights.
"then catch a train to Mt. Saint Michel?" Realize that the closest train station is 10 or more kilometers away.
Blair: You mean St. Malo, yes? Suggest you Google each (it will help with Google if you spell the names correctly: St. Malo and Mont St. Michel)--find photos that give you a visual of what each offers, then make your decision based on which one you think you would like best as a place to sleep. Mont St Michel is a very different place at night when the big crowds of day trippers are gone, romantic and atmospheric. But if you don't like that and would prefer more night life, then sleep at or near St. Malo. What I've done, but this is just me, is: do St Malo during the day, on the way to Mont St Michel, and then over-night on the Mont.
Would it be a good idea to stay in St. Milo or stay in Mont St. Michel area? We will have a car. Thanks!
I am spending two nights in Normandy and was thinking of staying in Caen. Is it possible to see the major D-Day sites from there?? Also, we are trying to do this as economically as possible so do you guys think it is cheaper to rent a car or to take a tour or is there some other way such as a bus that stops at the various sites?? If we took a tour we would want to take the least expensive one.
Dina: Yes, you can see the D-Day sites from Caen. Your choices are:1) Renting a car and doing a self-tour, or2) Not renting a car and paying for a tour.You emphasize that you want to do it as economically as possible. Which option is more economical depends on several things, including how many in your group?To estimate the cost of renting a car, go here http://www.autoeurope.com/carsplash.cfm?aff=RICKSTEVESThis is not the only car rental company but is often the least expensive; you can check the other major car rental companies.To see the costs of various tours, go here, these are the ones recommended by Rick (there are others, Google for those):www.battlebus.fr (from Bayeux only)www.victorytours.com (from Bayeux only)www.memorial-caen.fr (from Caen only)www.ddaybattletours.comwww.overlordtour.com (based in Bayeux)Most people reporting in here stay in Bayeux and use Battlebus tours. But that's not the only option, nor necessarily the least expensive.
We took the train from Paris to Bayeux, stayed there at the Hotel Churchill for 4 nights. The Hotel offers a day shuttle to Mt St Michel, and the Battlebus tours leave almost from the parking lot of the hotel. Highly recommend both the hotel and Battlebus.
As Kent mentioned, those who want to take a BattleBus tour must stay in Bayeux. As I recall, they insist on that as the tours leave promptly at 08:00, and they also request information on which Hotel their tour members are staying in.