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Bayeux + Normandy beaches - one day side trip from Paris

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21 posts
Bayeux + Normandy beaches - one day side trip from Paris

We just got back from a week's stay in a Paris apartment from which we made a one night trip to Normandy. Rather than respond to some opf this recent queries on this forum, I'll lay out for you the whole experience, hoping this will be useful to other visitors.

I'll make separate postings on renting a Hertz car, train travel to Bayeux and a one day battle field tour..

We had an unusual situation. I (with my wife) was given round trip air travel from Boston to Paris and a week in a Paris apartment as a 70th birthday present from my brother and sister. Although I've been to France eight times in 40 years, I'd never been to the Normandy invasion sites. That's why it was a one night round trip from Paris, staying at Bayeux. So this isn't just an posting to the Trip Advisor forum; it's also a thank you note to my family.

We arrived Bayeux on the train from Paris at 14:26 and took a taxi to the B&B Aggarthi. A nice place, 65 Euros, where the woman who owns and runs it speaks grammatically interesting English – competent but not fluent. She also tolerated my survival French, giving me some good practice. It's a small place with four seats in the breakfast room so she takes orders and schedules you breakfast time when you check in. She asked if we wanted tea or coffee, and when I said coffee, she asked if I wanted expresso or "swimming pool" – first time I’ve heard term for the large cups of coffee drunk by Americans.

We rented a Hertz car - see my next posting. We left Bayeux at 10:00 the next morning and did the battlefield tour, seeing all the sites that held the most interest for me - St. Mere Eglise, Mederet River crossing, St. Marie du Mont, Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc and the part of Omaha Beach from Vierville draw to Colville draw.

To keep this from getting too long, I’ll give you the battle field itinerary and info about trains from Paris as two separate posts – tomorrow as it’s getting late now.

Level Contributor
21 posts
1. Re: Bayeux + Normandy beaches - one day side trip from Paris

Here's the narrative of our side trip. I thought this experience might be useful to those who’d like to make a short trip to Normandy and see the key attractions. Two weeks ago my wife and I took an overnight side trip from Paris to Bayeux for a battlefield tour.

We left Paris on the 12:30 train arriving at Bayeux about 2:30. We had plenty of time to check in at B&B Aggarthi, do the tapestry tour and visit the Museum of the Battle of Normandy , and get out to Hertz to pick up our car about 6:00. I highly recommend the battle museum in Bayeux as a starting point for a tour of the Normandy battle sites. IT has a good collection of tanks and other vehicles and a set of narrative posters that is very well done. An hour there was an excellent introduction and got us in the mood for the next morning.

BTW, I’m not unaware of Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, etc., but as an American with only one day, that simply didn’t fit the time frame.

We left our B&B at 10:00 and were back at Hertz in Bayueux at 17:30, satisfied that I had seen what I most wanted to see – St. Mere Eglise, Mederet River crossing, St. Marie du Mont, Utah beach, Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach between the Vierville and Colville draws with time for a relaxed lunch.

It’s about an hour down the road to St. Mere Eglise, of most interest to me as a fan of the airborne. The church itself is a good starting point and right across the street is the airborne Museum. That museum is outstanding. Among the exhibits is a C-47, a glider you can walk through and a Higgins boat. It has a multitude of artifacts, many being donated collections from veterans and gives you a good feel for what the soldier had to work with, everything for BAR’s to mess kit and rations and even the instructions for the fishing kit in an airplane life raft.

Also a good book store in case you’re arriving less than well prepared. I recommend Holt’s guide and map which has easily drivable itineraries, good instructions and everything in the book well keyed to a very good map.

Then we went west to look at the Mederet River causeway and back through St. Marie du Mont to Utah beach. Walked out on the beach, skipped that museum for lack of time and had a nice lunch at the “Utah Beach Internet Cafe”, BTW the only place to eat. Reasonable food at reasonable prices (for France in 2008) and a computer you can use for $3.00 if you really must check your email.

It must have been around 2:30-3:00 when we left for the 20-30 minute drive to Pointe du Hoc. Along the way going out we had passed a road between many trees well trimmed almost in the shape of balls. Coming back, by accident of taking the wrong exit from the N-13, we saw that it was the German Cemetery. You get a good overall view of that for less than a ten minute detour.

On the way, detour through Grandcamp Maissy and visit the Ranger Museum. It’s a few hundred feet east from the big fishing piers along the beachfront road. But the road is one way counterclockwise, so you’ll have to go several blocks down the main street and come back. It’s small but has a good narrative display and is a very good introduction before going to Pointe du Hoc.

Pointe du Hoc is a easy visit. There is a circular trail from the parking lot – follow it and you’ll be back about a thousand yards later having seen the key sights. Seeing the cliffs those rangers had to scale from up close is impressive. So are the bomb craters, dozens of them - larger than your average home swimming pool, and except where there are gun emplacements you can’t walk 50 feet in a straight line without going into one.

From there it’s a nice drive through the country to Vierville Draw. Lots of apple orchards and cider mills. Down the draw to Omaha Beach and back through the next draw. The bluffs behind the beach are much more impressive closeup than they are in photographs of the battle.

One last word of advice. The roads can be tricky, but they are well signed. Get the Michelin map of Normandy. It has the accurate detail of nearly every paved road in the area – most having local numbers. Without that I might have wasted an hour finding myself several times.

2. Re: Bayeux + Normandy beaches - one day side trip from Paris

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