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Advice on Tour(s) in Normandy?
Old 07-15-2016, 06:02 PM   #1
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Advice on Tour(s) in Normandy?

My buddy and I are traveling to France at the end of September and will be going to Normandy for two days. Does anyone have any recommendations for which tours or tour companies to use? This will be my first time there. M thoughts are to book a tour for the first day then do a self guided tour on day 2. We will Have a car and will be staying in Bayeux.

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Old 07-16-2016, 08:49 PM   #2
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Bayeux Tapestry is great. I don't think you need a tour with a car. Of course the landing beaches & Saving Private Ryan famed American Normandy Cemetery & WW2 Memorial. Experienced emotions there like visiting the Vietnam Memorial. You walk just a bit from the rows of graves & you're staring at the landing sites. Mont St. Michel is a pain to get into & packed wall-to-wall.

Honfleur is great little quaint port town. Caen WW2 War Museum decent. Rouen Cathedral & Monet's lily pad gardens & home/studio at Giverny are quite good. Flowers are magnifico, but may depend on the time of year. Versailles & Chartres are just outside Normandy towards Paris. Really ought to pre-buy a Versailles ticket & still will be packed. Don't think anything is as far as 2 hours from Bayeux. All this is more than 2 days, like 4,5,6, so pick & choose.

Me, I'd probably do tapestry, beaches/cemetery, Honfleur & maybe Caen Museum as they are all quite close. Stop at Rouen and/or Giverny on way to/from Paris if that's where you're based.
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Old 07-16-2016, 09:07 PM   #3
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Last October we were in Normandy and used Bayeux Shuttle and they were excellent. They use screens in the vans to explain the history and also to map where they will stop during the tour. The guide was very good and the experience was very moving. We also stayed in Bayeux and enjoyed the restaurants recommended in Trip Advisor. We agree tapestry is also a must-see!
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Old 07-20-2016, 05:03 PM   #4
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Since you'll have a car, I wouldn't bother with a tour. I've biked in that part of Normandy twice in the past 6 years. It's a pretty region. Bayeux itself is a lovely town. In addition to the Tapestry, the British WWII war cemetery at the edge of town is worth a quick visit.

There are lots of WWII-related museums in the region. The one in Bayeux is supposedly one of the best, though I didn't visit that one. I liked the museum by Pegasus Bridge (a few miles NE of Caen near the coast), the "Airborne" museum in Ste-Mere-Eglise, and the war museum at Utah Beach. Utah Beach is much less developed than the other 4 WWII landing beaches. It's also the westernmost, not too far from Ste-Mere-Eglise. The large American war cemetery is on a stunning bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, and it's quite close to Bayeux. It's a moving place. It also has a free museum you walk through before walking out into the gravesites. We visited one of the German cemeteries and it was interesting, too. Each country's war cemeteries have very different styles. There are at least 2 Canadian war cemeteries in Normandy, as well. We saw Juno Beach (the Canadian landing beach), but not the Canadian war cemeteries. Whereas the U.S. and Canada buried their war dead in large cemeteries, the British generally buried their fallen soldiers very close to where they died. The result is that there are a lot of small British war cemeteries throughout Normandy. A young British soldier we encountered in the cemetery in Ranville (near Pegasus Bridge) explained some of the things we couldn't figure out ourselves on the British gravestones.

For pretty towns (besides Bayeux), the coastal towns from Cabourg eastward to Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur, are all very nice and have the distinctive ornate brick Normandy architecture. Deauville is quite upscale. There is a stunning village inland called Beuvron-en-Auge about 10 miles south of Cabourg, the prettiest village I've seen anywhere in Normandy.

I found that the small Top 10 Normandy book to be quite useful. Whatever your interests, the book will tell you where to find the best examples in Normandy.
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Old 07-20-2016, 05:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for the pointers. Hope to hear more from others. This is on my bucket list.
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:38 AM   #6
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Thanks for all of the information. Normandy has been on my bucket list also for many many years so I am looking forward to my trip.


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Old 07-27-2016, 04:22 PM   #7
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We used Dale Booth for tours in Normandy last time I was there (a few years ago) and he was wonderful. It is a van tour and he drives you all over the beaches and has you hop out to see various sights. We did one day, but he also does a two day tour, one day for the British beaches and one day for the American beaches.

His website is: http://dboothnormandytours.com


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Old 07-28-2016, 04:54 AM   #8
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Enjoy the cider and crepes!
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:43 AM   #9
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One other thing about Normandy: Timing. Both of my bicycle trips to Normandy in recent years were in early June, around the anniversary of D-Day (June 6). There are lots of special events and activities. I was amazed by all of the Allied flags strung up in towns and even at private homes, and by all of the WWII and 1940s-related shop window displays. There are parades, re-enactments, & free concerts. I saw many people are driving around in old surplus U.S. Army Jeeps. In the tourist office in one town, the women were all wearing WWII-era dresses and had WWII-era hairstyles. One warning, however: If it's a major anniversary (e.g. 2014 was the 70th), there were lots of travel restrictions for a few days because of all of the heads of state present. We got out of the D-Day beach area just before the travel restrictions went into effect. Also, for reasons unknown to me, there seemed to be a lot more displays and activities in areas liberated by American forces compared to towns liberated by British or Canadian forces. A British cyclist I met noticed the same thing.

Timing is worth considering for visiting Giverny (Monet's gardens & home). Much of the magnificent gardens are planted with perennial flowers, and their peak blooming period is generally mid-May through June. That's when I visited each time.
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