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Old 07-09-2015, 09:41 PM   #41
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From what I've read, touring the WWII Sites in Normandy from Paris - you definitely need a tour as the logistics are complex. It's a long way there, and the sites aren't easy to get to using public transportation.
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:01 PM   #42
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I actually had a cop scold me when I walked up to him asking directions.

I had just walked up and said: "Ou est XYZ? " without the "Bonjour"
He just looked at me and said, mockingly: "Bonjour, Monsieur Gendarme, ou est XYZ?" showing me that is how I should have addressed him.

It is really important.
This was very amusing!!!

I imagine they were often scolded like that as children whenever they forgot the "protocol".
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:18 AM   #43
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From what I've read, touring the WWII Sites in Normandy from Paris - you definitely need a tour as the logistics are complex. It's a long way there, and the sites aren't easy to get to using public transportation.
I've been to the WWII Normandy sites twice, both times by bicycle, including last year. I believe that none of the 5 landing beaches are accessible by train. Sword Beach and Juno Beach are essentially beach holiday towns today. They might have bus service from Caen. Gold Beach is somewhat more isolated. The 2 American landing beaches are the most isolated, especially Utah Beach, the westernmost of the 5 landing sites. Pointe du Hoc is near Omaha Beach and is even more isolated.

Both of my visits were during early June, and there are lots of special events around the anniversary of D-Day. I was taken aback by how many town streets, shop windows, and private homes were displaying flags of the Allied countries.

It's a wonderful area to visit if you have your own transportation (a car would be fine), because there are loads of things to see in the middle of nowhere. There are tiny British war cemeteries literally in the middle of farm fields, one had both British and German graves. We frequently came across monuments to specific battles or events on tiny country roads. We saw numerous re-enactment camps. Old US Army Jeeps were all over the place. I happened upon a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach. We saw a new monument being erected at Omaha Beach. I came across a ceremony at Ranville and I spoke with a British veteran of the Normandy liberation, and I met an American Normandy veteran at the Airborne Museum at Sainte-Mere-Eglise. I spoke with a young British soldier in the Ranville cemetery last year who was parachuting in ceremonies at both Ranville and Sainte-Mere-Eglise. He explained things about the British headstones that my friend and I couldn't figure out. He was very funny and told me that he's scared to death to jump out of airplanes, but that the only reason he does it is because they pay him extra!

Both times that I passed through Sainte-Mere-Eglise there were big celebrations taking place. Last year, there was a stage erected and bands playing music of the 1940s. The tourist office was staffed by women wearing 1940s-era dresses and all had 1940s-era hairstyles. The atmosphere was wonderful.

There are some great museums there. My favorites were the Pegasus Bridge Museum and the museum at Utah Beach. The American Cemetery has a good museum, too. The war museum in Bayeux is supposed to be excellent but I ran out of time when I was there. Bayeux is a lovely town, and both the famous Tapestry and the large British War Cemetery (the largest in Normandy) are worth seeing. The American War Cemetery is remarkable, on a perfectly manicured site overlooking the English Channel and Omaha Beach.
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:54 AM   #44
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From what I've read, touring the WWII Sites in Normandy from Paris - you definitely need a tour as the logistics are complex. It's a long way there, and the sites aren't easy to get to using public transportation.

In this case I'd usually rent a car. This way I have flexibility to move around freely. The downside is that you have to know where to go and you don't get the knowledge of a tour guide. But many individual sites usually have tours, audio or such, that it's not a big problem.

I'm glad this topic came up, since know I'll at least think to look at yours. Before I'd just assume to go it alone (habit).
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:06 AM   #45
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In this case I'd usually rent a car. This way I have flexibility to move around freely. The downside is that you have to know where to go and you don't get the knowledge of a tour guide. But many individual sites usually have tours, audio or such, that it's not a big problem.

I'm glad this topic came up, since know I'll at least think to look at yours. Before I'd just assume to go it alone (habit).
That's what we'd usually do when taking friends to Normandy.

The hardest part is getting out of Paris traffic! Once you got that done, it's a nice drive through the countryside. About a two hour drive. Be sure to get a rental with GPS!!!!!
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:07 AM   #46
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I've not had much interest in WWII sites so I've never been to Normandy.

I'd think I'd go back to Provence before going to Normandy though.
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:56 PM   #47
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We may visit Normandy one of these days. We're not interested in the WWII sites, but rather the coastal towns such as Honfleur, cities like Rouen and Caen, the Bayeux Tapestry, and Mont St. Michel. And sampling the local cuisine and cider (and calvados) of course.

I figure we'll have to rent a car. We'd try picking it up in one of the towns a train ride away from Paris.

Some neighbors drove all over Brittany looking for menhirs (large upright standing stones from prehistoric times). Their blog was quite amusing.
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:42 PM   #48
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Ah hum, please allow me a shameless plug for eastern France as well. Alsace, Burgundy, and Savoy have a lot to offer too and they are easily accessed by TGV from Paris. Lyon is considered to be France's food capital and it is beautiful in its own right.
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:54 PM   #49
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We really enjoyed Alsace.
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Old 07-10-2015, 06:39 PM   #50
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From what I've read, touring the WWII Sites in Normandy from Paris - you definitely need a tour as the logistics are complex. It's a long way there, and the sites aren't easy to get to using public transportation.
Yes-- and the bus tour makes it very simple. It's a long day (about 14 hours), but we were able to see everything that was pertinent. Truly a good use of time and $.
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Old 07-11-2015, 03:35 PM   #51
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Ah hum, please allow me a shameless plug for eastern France as well. Alsace, Burgundy, and Savoy have a lot to offer too and they are easily accessed by TGV from Paris. Lyon is considered to be France's food capital and it is beautiful in its own right.
Ah, Lyon. I looked through my photos and found this one of the Rhône River that flows through town. Or it could be the Saône.

Anyway, we were visiting Lyon as a day trip, and did not have time to check out the local culinary art. But even if I come back with that intention in mind, do not think that I can overcome my thrift to dine at Chef Bocuse. I just looked out of curiosity, and indeed for 255 euros/person (before wine, tax, and tip), one can get a 7-course dinner with poulet de Bresse as one of the dishes.

I think I will go to the imitation Bocuse Restaurant in NY first. The cost is very pedestrian there.

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Old 07-11-2015, 03:44 PM   #52
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Lyon is nice. I think they take pride in the night lighting too.

I'm not too big on traditional cuisine there. I think the big thing involves pig heads.

Too rich for me.
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Old 07-11-2015, 06:54 PM   #53
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We were talking in Sunday School about visiting Normandy and what a serious visit it is. There are just so many grave markers there.

I've traveled to Europe many times since going to college there in 1970. Although we love the beauty of Paris, we don't consider ourselves to be Francophiles. There are so many other off the beaten path places in Europe we have yet see--and where we prefer to spend our time.
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:03 PM   #54
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Lyon is nice. I think they take pride in the night lighting too.

I'm not too big on traditional cuisine there. I think the big thing involves pig heads.

Too rich for me.
Pig head does not scare me. And offal done right can be very tasty.

But if that's not your taste, fear not. Spend a bit of money at Bocuse, and you will not have to eat pig head. Here's one of his current prix fixe menus (there's offal though).

MENU BOURGEOIS

Maine lobster salad ‘à la française’
or
Scallop of foie gras, pan-cooked, passion fruit sauce
-----------------------
Red mullet dressed in crusty potato scales
or
Turbot with Champagne sauce, potatoes soufflées
-----------------------
Beaujolais winemaker’s sherbet
-----------------------
Veal chop and kidney cooked in a casserole, garnished ‘à la bourgeoise’
(for two persons)
or
Pigeon in puff pastry with young cabbage
or
Veal sweetbreads braised, white Ivoire sauce
-----------------------
Selection of fresh and matured cheese from «La Mère Richard»
-----------------------
Délicacies and temptations
Fantasies and Chocolates
-----------------------
220.- €uros per person
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:15 PM   #55
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I don't think I tried a traditional bouchon when I visited.

But it is a beautiful city.
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Old 07-18-2015, 11:09 AM   #56
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This was a fun thread to read through.

On one visit to France we ate a brunch in a small restaurant with nice natural lighting on the grounds of Versailles. DW ordered a croque monsieur and I ordered a croque madame (with egg) and received a sly smile from the waiter.

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Old 07-18-2015, 01:33 PM   #57
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This was a fun thread to read through.

On one visit to France we ate a brunch in a small restaurant with nice natural lighting on the grounds of Versailles. DW ordered a croque monsieur and I ordered a croque madame (with egg) and received a sly smile from the waiter.

Very cool! I'm not surprised the waiter was pleased.

I would have wanted goat cheese added!
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:16 PM   #58
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We may visit Normandy one of these days. We're not interested in the WWII sites, but rather the coastal towns such as Honfleur, cities like Rouen and Caen, the Bayeux Tapestry, and Mont St. Michel. And sampling the local cuisine and cider (and calvados) of course.

I figure we'll have to rent a car. We'd try picking it up in one of the towns a train ride away from Paris.

Some neighbors drove all over Brittany looking for menhirs (large upright standing stones from prehistoric times). Their blog was quite amusing.
The places you mention ex-WWII sites are all very nice & worth 3-5 days. Driving is good, easy. The Brittany walled town of Dinan is quite nice also. Not sure why you're not interested in the WWII sites, but the US Cemetery there is as moving as it gets for me.
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:25 PM   #59
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Except in Paris, we've driven around most of France via two trips totaling 3+ weeks.


A few things in Paris I haven't seen mentioned that we enjoyed immensely. Napolean's grave site, the Dôme des Invalides, and the church there are worth an hour or two. A block away is the impressive Rodin sculpture garden & museum. The original "The Thinker" is there but so much more. Then there's St. Etienne church with it's marvelous stone carvings through out. And San Chapelle is the best thing there is ex-Eiffiel.
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:34 PM   #60
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Went to Rodin museum in late April and there's a lot of renovation going on there. Might not be the best value to visit during renovation, unless you have a Museum pass.

Agree about Sainte Chappelle but it's a pain to get in, the place is popular.

As for WWII, I like watching things like Band of Brothers but not really a war buff. Yes there were a lot of sacrifices made, people basically absorbing bullets to break through the Nazi positions. But I'm not sure I would go out of my way or go to much expense to visit. I avoided going to concentration camps in Germany. Nothing wrong with somber reflection but I like bright sunlight, not cemeteries or catacombs or some dark cells and ovens.
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