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Normandy - D Day Beaches

We are huge fans of Rick Steves and follows his books and all recommendations through our annual trips to Europe. His hotel and restaurant recommendations are always spot on, and we have never been disappointed. We recently returned from a trip to France and the highlight was our visit to the DDay beaches. We did a one day private tour with Chris Emery on Memorial Day. His insight, knowledge and passion for the area are incomparable. Chris met us at Bayeux train station and took us on an amazing tour of Utah and Omaha beaches, with some unexpected stops in between. The stories he tells, in addition to the historic aspect, add an extra special touch. Chris took us to places where we saw no other tourists, and told us anecdotes about the lives of several soldiers, making it even more compelling. He tells his stories with the use of his IPad with photos and videos, and there was not a question he could not answer. At the end of our tour, he had us visit the American Cemetery at Omaha, and right on cue we wrapped up our visit in time for Taps. Our group of 6 highly recommends Chris Emery for a Dday Tour. (And be sure to watch The Longest Day, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, etc. just before your trip.) Rick Steves' recommendations in Bayeux were excellent, as are all his suggested tours, restaurants and hotels.

Posted by Nancy
309 posts

We did a Normandy day trip from Paris. It was a long day but so worth it. I can't imagine being there on Memorial Day.

Posted by Bets
Deep in the heart of Indiana
5538 posts

I can't imagine being there on Memorial Day.

It's not commemorated in France, though there may have been extra flags at the cemetery or another sign of the day.

Posted by rosemig OP
7 posts

While the French don't recognize Memorial Day as we do, the majority of tourists to Normandy, the DDay Beaches and the cemetery are Americans. While it was not overcrowded, there were a great deal of people there and for us to commemorate this visit by being there on Memorial Day was quite special. It was a very moving day, capped off by a very emotional visit to the cemetery.

Posted by Gabe
7 posts

Just got back from France last week and also used Chris Emery from visitdday.com

Great guide with a wonderful personality. We had our two girls with us and being a father of young girls himself, he really put them at ease and included them in the tour.

I don't think you can do a quality guide like Chris as a one day trip from Paris.

We did it with only a two night stay by taking the 8:44am train to Caen from Paris and renting a car there (used Hertz who were very nice but remember they close from 12-2 for lunch). Got to Bayeux before noon. Had some lunch and looked at the Tapestry. We then drove the easy drive to Mont St. Michel and got there around 4pm so missed the crowds. Spent a couple of hours there and were back in Bayeux for dinner around 8pm. Early to bed and then had Chris meet us at our B&B (Hotel Tardiff was awesome) where we hung out for bit over a cup of tea and then headed out for the day. Checked out the next day after breakfast. Decided to drop the car off back in Paris due to train strikes and was all good. Easy drive from Bayeux to Paris via toll roads.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
7262 posts

“....... the majority of the visitors to Normandy, the D Day beaches and the (American) cemetery are Americans”

Many, many people from Canada and Britain also visit Normandy and the D Day beaches, as their men died on the beaches and elsewhere in Normandy, too.. The British and Canadian cemeteries are beautifully kept but somber places.

Posted by caro
Guernsey
240 posts

Sorry what is Memorial Day? Never hear of it before? Is it like Remembrance Sunday in the British Isles?

Posted by stan
The Heartland USA
3192 posts

Yes Caro. It started out being called Decoration Day in the US, intended to honor the military dead from wars. Then became more commonly known as Memorial Day after WWII. Its a national holiday, when traditionally, people visit the cemetery with flowers and ceremony. Unofficially, its considered the start of the summer season.

Posted by rosemig OP
7 posts

"Many, many people from Canada and Britain also visit Normandy and the D Day beaches, as their men died on the beaches and elsewhere in Normandy, too.. The British and Canadian cemeteries are beautifully kept but somber places."

I stand corrected Norma. Yes, many other visitors. Was just trying to point out that Memorial Day for the Americans is an important day to pay respect to our Fallen, as well as all those who fought for our freedom. Thank you.