I was born on D-Day and have always wanted to be there on the 75th anniversary. I am very familiar with London and plan to make it my home base and would like to spend a few days in Paris and two days in Normandy. What is the best way to travel from London to Paris? Is there a good English tour to the Normandy sites with a place to stay overnight? PS I am very active, in terrific health and do a lot of moderate Arizona hiking/walking.
London to Paris screams "Eurostar" (train under the Channel) to me. That will be the fastest option city center to city center. Others can tell you approximately what date the tickets will go on sale. If you buy then, the fare should be very reasonable.
There are several companies running good small-group (van) tours to the D-Day sites. I took a one-day Overlord Tour and was very pleased with it, but there are other options. I know that Overlord even has a two-day tour. I don't know whether that tour includes a hotel room on the intervening night. Most of the tours are run out of Bayeux, and you might be on your own to arrange that night in the middle of the tour. (See what the OverlordTours website says.) That would be no problem, and you'd want to spend the night before the tour in Bayeux as well. I spent 3 nights in Bayeux (there's a good WW II museum in town that's worth a few hours, plus the Bayeux Tapestry and the picturesque historic area). If your time isn't too tight, I'd recommend 3 nights there if you want 2 days for the D-Day sites, then you can think about whether there's other stuff for you to see in Normandy. For me, the answer was "Yes."
It's easy to get the train from Paris to Bayeux. Buying in advance will probaby save some money. I would not recommend a one-day bus tour from Paris. The bus would be slower than the train, and all that time on the bus would mean you wouldn't get to see as much of the invasion area.
You will have no problem with the modest physical requirements of a D-Day tour.
I figured the best way to Paris would be by train and I am so grateful for the tip on Overlord. Also, I forgot all about the Bayeux tapestry. I've always wanted to see it so I'll ad some time to my stay in Normandy. Thank you...
You need to take account of the massive crush of people and hotel rooms that the anniversary will create. You should do some research and book immediately. I would worry about getting cancelled when vendors get a higher bid than you agreed to pay - but I have no such experience. You do want to spend a few days in Paris, if only because the trains to Caen and then Bayeux don't leave from the same station as Eurostar arrives. Even on a regular summer day, we found the parking lots above the beaches jammed. I would hope there would be extra shuttle busses and so on, during the big week. But "crowded" would be an understatement. This has nothing to do with your age, only with the press of visitors.
There is an alternative option.
Train from London to Portsmouth, visit the D-Day museum and other associated sights if time permits and then take the ferry to Cherbourg or Le Havre for quicker and easier access to the Normandy sites (plus it feels more apt to travel to the area via boat albeit on a ferry with bars, casinos and discos!)
I hope the Cherbourg ferries aren't as flaky as those on the St. Malo-Channel Islands-Poole run. I've experienced 2 cancellations out of 5 planned trips. That would be a big problem for someone with a tight itinerary.
I would just add this: Have you been to Normandy before? If not (or even if you have), please consider that there is a lot more to Normandy (and surrounding areas eg Brittany) than just the D-Day sights.
Normandy is beautiful. Yes, the D-Day sites and other historic WWII locations are wonderful, and everyone should experience them. They alone make the trip worthwhile. But don't overlook the other wonderful attractions all around this region. Incredible food, pleasant old cities, cute villages, lovely countryside, everyplace steeped in history...it's one of Europe's easiest-to-fall-in-love-with regions. Well worth any amount of time that you can manage to enjoy there.
I agree with making reservations as soon as possible.
The name of the hotel that our Paris and the Heart of France tour will be staying at this June in Bayeaux is
21 Rue St Patrice
I haven't stayed there yet, but I did check it out on Trip Advisor and it has many positive reviews. Out of curiousity, I checked to see if it was possible to make reservations for June 2019. The website from this hotel asked for an email requesting a reservation. The price quoted for 5 nights (a few days before and few days after) was a little over 700 euros.
Boats crossing the channel do get effected by weather, that happens to ferries everywhere! Living in the Channel Islands I am very, very aware of this!!!! But the way I look at it the boats get stopped by high winds, but can sail when there is fog which will ground airports, also travelling by ferry is a lot more relaxing than having to deal with airports like Gatwick and Heathrow. So I am a vote for taking the ferry from Portsmouth and very apt.
Since you are planning this far out, do plan to stay in Bayeux at least 2 nights. Since you haven’t bought airfare yet, consider flying open jaw-in to London and out of Paris or the reverse. Then take the Eurostar just one way between the 2 big cities.
I stayed at d’Argouges in Bayeux on a Rick Steves tour and it was lovely!
On that tour we did the DDay landings with Dale Booth who is awesome.
Whilst it is true that bad weather can result in the cancellation of some ferries it's far less likely to happen in June. From my house I can see the ferries departing and cancellations seem quite scarce, the catamaran is more susceptible to cancellations.
Both of my canceled ferries fell between late May and early August. Last year's 3-days-in-a-row cancellation was in early August. The earlier one could have been in June or July; I don't remember.
Acraven, you must be the most unluckiest cross Channel ferry passenger!
Yeah, it seems that way. But neither of my trips was ruined by the ferry cancellation, so not a big deal in the end.
Last September I went from London to Paris on the Eurostar. You arrive in Paris "Nord" and your train leaves for Bayeux from Gare St Lazare. I had booked my tickets in advance and I had 1 hour to get from Nord to St Lazare. A friend told me that it was possible to take a taxi and get there in that time frame. Unfortunately, the queue for taxi's had about 200 people. By the time we got a taxi, we had missed our train. I had bought non-refundable tickets, so I had to buy all new tickets. I would suggest getting tickets that have at least 1 1/2 to 2 hour layover. Our train left about 8:30 a.m. We were trying to get to Bayeux in time to see the Tapestry. By taking the later train, we arrived too late to see it. So you might look at taking an earlier train from London to Paris.
We stayed at the Churchill Hotel. It was wonderful. It was easy to walk to a lot of the sights in Bayeux. We had booked a tour with D-Day Battle tours. Our guide was Rene and he was wonderful. My husband asked about a specific incident that happened in the battle, and he changed our tour to be able to visit that location. They can customize your tour. I would think that the 75th anniversary will be a little crazy. You might want to go a few days earlier or at a completely different time. The experience will still be poignant and moving regardless of when you go. We were at the American Cemetery when the flag was lowered. It was very memorable.
Last hint... bring a rain coat and/or umbrella. It rains here a lot. We were drenched all day long. We also had dinner at a crepe restaurant, "Le Moulin de la Galette. It happened to be my birthday and we had a marvelous dinner.
We’ve stayed at Hotel d’Argouges in Bayeux at least 6-7 times, for a week each time, and love it. The owner and staff are really wonderful. I highly recommend this hotel.
I hope you can stay much longer than 2 nights in Bayeux (a wonderful, charming town) as there is so much to see. And if you’re going all that way, you should make the most of it. Normandy is beyond wonderful and the people are very nice and welcoming.