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WWII-themed trip to France

Fly into Nice September 15th. Want to see some of Provence's small towns. Feel compelled to see Oradour-sur-Glane, site of entire town slaughtered June 10, 1944. I know it is in the middle of nowhere, or more exactly between the south of France and Normandy. Then on to Normandy, leaving September 21st for Belgium. How do we travel? Drive? Viamichelin seems like long hours in the car. Normandy seems to require a car. Trains go to Paris and then back south to Limoges (Oradour.) Then another train to Caen? Should we just fly to Normandy and bag the most solemn of martyr towns? Help!

Posted by
4132 posts

There are WWII sites across France. In Provence do not miss the Resistance Museum in Fountaine de Vaucluse. Only you can decide about Oradour, but it will take a big bite out of your trip. Le coeur a ses raisons, just make sure you really want it. If you had the time I'd suggest a slow road trip from Provence through the Dordogne, thence to Oradour and Normandy. But only if you have the time to do these places justice.

Posted by
32273 posts

Holly, I'm not sure you're going to have time to visit Nice, "see some of Provence's small towns" and also Normandy within what seems to be a 6 day time frame. That's going to be a lot of travelling, whether by train or car! I suspect you'll need to make a choice between visiting small towns in Provence and visiting WW-II locations. If the WW-II sites are important, skip Nice and Provence and plan to visit those on a future trip when you have enough time to see them properly. If you start in Paris, the WW-II sites will easier to arrange. There are direct trains from Paris Austerlitz to Limoges-Benedictins (~3H). That's the closest large town to Oradour-sur-Glane. Spend one night there and use Taxi, Bus or Rental car to reach Oradour (it's about 15 miles west of Limoges). Although somewhat of a "sombre" experience, a visit to the Memorial is absolutely worthwhile. You'll enter through a Visitors Centre, which has displays describing the events. I can't recall if they offered guided tours, but I'd recommend that if available, so that you have some idea of the most significant sites in the village (ie: Laudy Barn). From there you could travel to Normandy by train (~7H, 1 change in Paris) or Car (I didn't check driving times). I'd suggest staying in Bayeux, as it's a great central location. Taking one of the excellent local tours is highly recommended, as they provide a much more interesting and rewarding look at the history than by touring on your own. They know where all the sites are, so get around very efficiently. If you need names of tour firms, post another note. From Bayeux, it's relatively straightforward to get back to Paris (hopefully no track work is taking place) and then to Belgium (travel time ~4.5H) Happy travels!

Posted by
4411 posts

FYI - It's definitely time to book a guided tour in Normandy, if you're interested in that. Same thing for Bayeux hotel reservations. Trust me ;-)