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D-Day beaches - transportation issues

London, Canada
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D-Day beaches - transportation issues

Hi all,

My wife and I will be in Paris in early April and would like to tour the D-Day beaches. The big problem we have is that we will be taking the train from Paris and therefore wouldn't be able to arrive in time to take any of the full day tours that leave in the early morning (earliest train doesn't arrive until 09:27). We are Canadian and therefore primarily interested in the Juno Beach area and other points of Canadian interest.

It would seem that we therefore have three options:

1. take an afternoon-only tour, such as the one offered by Normandy Sightseeing Tours (www.normandywebguide.com/AnDdayTours.htm)

2. hire a car in Bayeux and do it ourselves

3. rely on the public bus system to get around

Various questions that I'm hoping someone might be able to help with:

Has anybody used Normandy Sightseeing Tours? Are their tours restricted to the beaches and museums or do you get to visit the towns a little bit too?

I have not learned to drive a car with a manual transmission (e.g. stick shift), but my understanding is that it is virtually impossible to find a car with an automatic transmission in France. Is this true?

Finally, I cannot make any sense of the bus schedules at all. I know that Line 74 travels to the areas I'm interested in but the schedules seem very sparse.

Bayeux towards Courseulles is found at busverts.fr/_hiver/…L74S2.pdf

The return bus schedule is found at busverts.fr/_hiver/…L74S1.pdf

Does anyone understand these? Are there really only that few buses running each day at those very few times, or am I missing something? To be clear, it looks to me that there are only 4 buses leaving all day from Bayeux, with the earliest being at 1200. Can that be right?

Any help or suggestions would be really appreciated.

Thanks.

Ohio, USA
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1. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

>>> 1. take an afternoon-only tour, such as the one offered by Normandy Sightseeing Tours <<<

I'm not personally familiar with them but if you have checked them out and they seem to be offering what you want, why not? You could email them first and make sure they will be able to take you to the specific places you want to see.

>>> 2. hire a car in Bayeux and do it ourselves <<<

Not a good plan IMO unless you have done a heck of a lot of research first. If you have done your homework though, and have really good maps of the region and somebody who knows how to read them, this is certainly an option.

>>> 3. rely on the public bus system to get around <<<

I would say this idea is a definite non-starter.

san francisco
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2. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

hi----i am planning on doing the exact same thing on May 12th--------but will arrive with my husband at 7:30 AM into CDG---------so we are thinking of renting a car, driving to BAYEUX, then going on the afternoon tour with OVERLORD tours

and the next day (after overnighting in Bayeux) taking a FULL day tour with them------------maybe that will work

what have YOU discovered, as you seem to be a few jumps ahead of us----------can you advise me what you found out and how you plan to do this

then will you go to Paris? my husband says he wants to drop the car in Bayeux, and TRAIN back to Paris with our luggage.........

sheri

Ohio, USA
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3. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

>>> hi----i am planning on doing the exact same thing on May 12th--------but will arrive with my husband at 7:30 AM into CDG---------so we are thinking of renting a car, driving to BAYEUX, then going on the afternoon tour with OVERLORD tours <<<

I *strongly* recommend you NOT drive AT ALL, far less to Bayeux after an overnight flight crossing nine time zones. The combination of fatigue, jet-lag and sleep deprivation with the disorienting effect of driving a strange car on unfamiliar roads with signage and driving conventions that you are not accustomed to is a cocktail whose potential effects are dangerous to put it very mildly.

Assuming you manage to arrive at your destiation safely (and most drivers who have had one drink too many do this most of the time...) I certainly do not think you will be anywhere near alert or awake enough to do a tour of the beaches that afternoon.

My suggestion would be that you spend that day in Paris. Get a lot of fresh air, take a good brisk walk, see a couple of places you have ben dying to see, eat some good meals and get a good night's sleep before heading off to Nomandy the next day, having (hopefully...) adjusted to the new time zone. Alternatively take the train to Bayeux and do much the same when you get there. Do the Battlebus tour the next day and then pick up your car on day 3 to head off to wherever you want to go next.

San Antonio TX
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4. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

We just returned from there and had a very short time frame. We only had a half a day as our schedule was really full but decided to go for it anyway! We took the train to Bayeux, rented a car there through Hertz. You can get automatics you will just have to pay more. We mapped our route out using the online Michelin maps and had no problem. Everything is pretty well marked and close together in this area and it proved to be quite an adventure. Still if I had a choice I would opt for a guided tour half day is better than not. There is so much there and it would have been really nice to have had someone explaining everything we were seeing.

Have a good trip!

Atlanta
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5. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

Clients have mentioned Battlebus and Link Paris as companies that do the D-Day tours out of Caen. Link Paris will do the train tickets from Paris. Battlebus is listed above but does anyone know if both companies are good and reliable?

Denver, CO
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6. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

All,

My wife and I went to Normandy in August of 2006 and we chose http://www.ddaybattletours.com/. Elwood is the operator and guide. I can't say enough good things about Elwood. He is ENglish by birth, has his own private World War II museum in his house and is unbelieveably prepared. We loved it!! He picked us up at the local train station (we came from Paris) and dropped us off at the end of the day. Our only regret is not getting the two day tour!! We even left our camera in his bus and he sent it to us at no cost!!! I recommend this trip unconditionally. My two cents....

illinois
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7. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

Hi Bris,

I am just back yesterday from France. We did drive (with 4 kids in the back seats) and I would HIGHLY recommend it. We rented a car in central Paris and drove to to the Bayeux area. It was about 3 hours with 1 stop. I joked is was like driving on an interstate in Wisconsin. There a plenty of "rest areas" along the road for gas and snacks. There are SEVERAL tolls that I didn't know about. At least 4 of them, about 10 - 12 euro total. Signs are excellent.

Taking a train to Bayeux would be a great idea. Rent a car when you get there. Driving in Paris was pretty crazy, even though I am used to city traffic. There a loads of one way streets and the motorcycles alone drove me nuts. Next time I am bringing a sling shot!! :)

I had a Michelin guide book for the area that was useless. We really wanted to focus on the D-Day beaches, and we found a map book on the first day at one of the museums that had a guided tour of the entire area. We ended up following the trail from Arromanches to Point du Hoc. Signs with Sea gulls on them for the trail are posted at almost every intersection. Even on the foggiest of mornings we could easily figure out the route. It was AMAZING! My kids ages 5, 9, 11 and 12 were even thrilled with it! We back tracked and ended at the American Cemetery which was just perfect. We stopped at the 360 degree movie and the museum in Arromanches, Longues Sur Mer, Port En Bessin, Colleville, St. Laurent, Vierville, Point Du Hoc, Grandcam Maisy and the cemetery.

Here is the web site listed on the back of the booklet www.calvados-tourisme.com

The booklet was free and we found them in quite a few places. I have extras and could send you one if you like.

Try to get a very street specific map of the area. I never did find one, but by then, I had the booklet, so I was ok.

Also, make sure you see a few movies before you go. The BIG RED One, Saving Private Ryan. It is just awesome to be able to stand there and see the history. It was 100 times better than I could have ever imagined!

My uncle had invaded Omaha on his birthday, June 6th. I wish he were still alive to tell me more of the facinating stories.

C

Cumbria
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8. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

We spent a week in the Bayeux area last Sept, touring the D-Day beaches and the many wonderful museums around that area. It was absorbing and very moving. We find driving in that area very easy - the roads are not busy, and are well signed for all the places you will want to visit.

Public Buses - dont bother - it is a rural area and therefore the services are patchy.

Definitley avoid driving in the Paris area - unless you like STRESSSSSS.

I also recommend the "Band of Brothers" series on DVD if you get the chance, which paints a very vivid picture of WWII in Northern France.

9. Re: D-Day beaches - transportation issues

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