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Paris to Normandy American Cemetery tour?

sunnysky2k

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In October, we're planing to visit Paris for 8 days.
I would appreciate any information regarding group tour (name of company, $, and hours?) or if not, rent a car (how easy?) to there?
I checked @ web sites but not sure they actually stop at American cemetery.
Thank you!
 

alfie

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I would simply rent a car and drive to Caen, then Normandy. The most difficult part is to get out of Paris,(some cars have a GPS) but, once you are on the highway A-13 it is a breeze. This is a toll road, but, you can get there in less than 4 hours. They have photo radar and a new points system in France now, so the traffic has really calmed down. The only thing you may not be used to are the traffic circles but, once you master them, you will wonder why we don't have more of them in North America. All the beaches, landing areas and memorials are very well marked, so with a little research you should not have any problems. You should plan to stay overnight.
 

sunnysky2k

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Thank you very much.
Hope we can find my father-in-law's grave stone easily.
 

Jimster

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I took the train to Bayeu and took the Battlebus Tour. I believe it leaves from Gare du Norde station in Paris. Personally, i have no desire to drive through France if I can avoid it. I have rented cars but that is not my general method of transportation in Europe. In the US and Canada where mass transportation is dismal, I always rent cars, but in Europe there is little need to do so. Also on the train you actually mingle with the French people. But if you want, maybe you might choose to stop at a Holiday Inn, rent a Ford from Hertz, eat at McDonalds and watch ER on the TV too while you are there. Then you can say you really soaked up the French experience.:D But if you do decide to rent a car or decide to get off the train, you can make a side trip on the way if you choose to see the "lilly pond" of the artist Monet. The guide (Stuart) was very animated and knowledgeable. Having a MA in history myself and specializing in that era, he didn't tell me much about the battle that I didn't know BUT he has taken many many vets from D-Day on that tour and has many interesting stories about them that you otherwise wouldn't know. The tour always ends with a trip to the American Cemetery (usually about the time they have closing ceremonies) and Stuart will help you find your relatives grave stone. You do not need to rent a car once there because you are in the heart of town. You can also visit the Bayeu Tapestry while you are there. This is from the Normans and is known world wide. There are B and B's in town and the Churchill hotel- the Battlebus tour starts and ends from the parking lot of the Churchill. You can get the details of the Battlebus Tour on line- just google Battlebus. Incidently, our trip had 6 people and I think the max is 10 so it is a very personal experience.
 
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hibbeln

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I would HIGHLY recommend staying the night before and after in Bayeux. The Hotel Churchill is an excellent option, and is right where Battlebus picks-up. The Hotel Tardiff is also highly rated and is a few minutes walk away. The day before or after your tour, you can visit some sights in Bayeux, like the Cathedral (gorgeous from the outside) and the town itself (very picturesque) and the Bayeux Tapestry.

You can either drive from Paris (we drove from the airport, no problem at all). I used the turn-by-turn guidance from www.viamichelin.com and it was unbelievably right on the dot. Told you where to expect to pay a toll and how much, gave you exact readings of what the exit signs would say (boy, that helped a LOT!). It is kind of a longish drive, but certainly do-able. The other option that is mentioned is to take the train from Paris straight to Bayeux. If you stayed at the Churchill or Tardiff in Bayeux, you wouldn't need a car at all.

Tell your tour guide in advance that your FIL served and is buried there. Give them as many details as possible and they will be prepared with any info or special sites they can figure out. People in this area love to know they have a relative in their midst! D-Day is still very much a big deal here, and it is refreshing how much Americans are loved in this area!

Also, CONTACT THE AMERICAN CEMETARY IN ADVANCE with your exact day of visit, what tour you will be on (they know all the guides well). When their is a relative coming, they do some special things. Usually there will be flowers on the grave (they actually have a local group that brings flowers out weekly and puts them on graves on a rotating basis). They also send someone down to the beach and bring up wet sand from where the troops came ashore. This is wiped onto the engraving on the tombstone. Against the white, white marble, the sand looks gold. It's a tribute to the family, and makes your photos come out excellent with everything clearly readable. When we were there (with a private guide that we hired because our youngest was too young to be allowed on the Battlebus tour) our guide was VERY excited to find one that still had wet sand in it. He was hopping up and down with excitement and looked all around hoping to find the family to express his appreciation to them (he was 3 on the day of D-Day, and was injured by shrapnel in the neck) but we couldn't find them.


Trying to "do it" on your own would be frustrating. It is one of those places where you get SO much more by having a guide. And the local guides really do a superb job and are extremely enthusiastic. Our guide commented that many people that try to do it alone mess up completely because the American Cemetary closes very early, even in the summer, so you can end up not getting in altogether unless you time things just right. And, as mentioned before by others, they get you there at "just the right time" so you can look around and be present as they play Taps and lower the flag (not a dry eye in the cemetary).

Reply here or Private Message me if you have any other questions or would like the contact for our personal guide. I can't figure out how to add an image here to show you what the gravestone looked like that had the family visiting.....but I know I could email it to you.
 
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Jimster

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Normandy

Hibblen adds many good details above, but I think the OP is coming from Paris and not London. Therefore, if taking the train, you would leave from Garde du Norde(which is easy to get to from the Paris Metro). If you take a car and do as stated above, you'll end up leaving it in the parking lot most of the time. Anywhere you want to go in town is quite walkable. The Cathederal is less than 2 blocks from the Hotel Churchill and so is the Tapestry.
 

hibbeln

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Oooops, why on earth did I write "London"?! Thanks for catching that, I went back and corrected it to Paris (which is what I meant).
 
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