Normandy trip, suggestions....

#1
I'm heading down to Normandy for the first time at the end of the month. I've only got 4 days, so assuming 2 days travelling, I've got two full days to do stuff.

Obviously I'm interested in the Brit and Canadian beaches, first time out anyway, so any suggestions of an itinerary, places not to miss etc? Is it better to hire a proper guide or join an organised tour?

Thanks in advance.
 
#2
The Caen Memorial museum
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/caen-memorial-for-peace.htm

Longues sur Mer battery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longues-sur-Mer

Airbourne Museum at Pegasus Bridge http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/airborne_museum_pegasus_bridge.htm

Merville Battery
http://www.pegasusarchive.org/normandy/depth_merville.htm

Arromanche
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arromanches

Le Grande Bunker, Ouisterham
http://travel.webshots.com/album/561359496yeDNsO

Those were the ones that most impressed me but there are hoards of others, all well signposted
If you have time to pop over to Omaha/Utah there are some impressive bits there too.
St Mere Eglise is well worth a visit (nice museum too) and there is a small museum up the hill from the western end of Omaha (name escapes me) which is worth a look at.

Well worth taking a wander along the beaches themselves too, standing down toward the low tide mark on Omaha does make you look at the whole business in a different light.
 
#3
Thanks jagman, that just the sort of thing I was after.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#4
Seconded on Merville,

Read up on it before hand, and then when on the ground put yourself in the position of having a Coy(+) available for a Bn objective, with orders to confirm it secure before the objective is shelled whether you are on it or not!

One hell of an objective.
 
#5
Ord_Sgt said:
Thanks jagman, that just the sort of thing I was after.
No problem, the hard bt is deciding where you have time to visit.
I'm sure others will chip in but next time I go those are the places I will revisit first.
Even just driving down the coast you will come across loads of bits of interest, many of the towns and villages have preserved tanks etc as memorials including a DD Sherman recovered from the sea years ago.
 
#6
A new Museum opened at Pegasus bridge dedicated to the Airborne with a mock up Horsa Gilder. Dont get a beer at the Cafe Gondree or all your money will be gone!
 
#7
#8
Pegasus bridge is worth a visit even if it's only to visit and meet Madam Gondree. A very humbling experience and she is a font of knowledge on the landings having been there as a child.
 
#9
Bee_Gee. said:
A new Museum opened at Pegasus bridge dedicated to the Airborne with a mock up Horsa Gilder. Dont get a beer at the Cafe Gondree or all your money will be gone!
I'd have to disagree with you on that one BG. We spent the best part of 2 hours in the womans company and never put a hand in our pockets, she insisted on us not paying for our drinks and even gave a couple of us an T-shirt and sweat shirt at no cost.

Unless of course she just happens to like jocks.
 
#10
Excellent stuff chaps.

Rough itinerary I'm planning, with acknowledgement for jagmans great links..

Leave The Hague Thursday morning and drive to Caen about a 7 hour drive). Visit the museum in the afternoon and spend the night in Caen.

The Caen Memorial museum
www.sacred-destination...-peace.htm

Friday morning drive to Pegasus Bridge, same day head over to Merville Battery and end the Day at Ouisterham. These are all pretty close to each other so should be I think doable in a day.

Airbourne Museum at Pegasus Bridge battlefieldsww2.50megs...bridge.htm

Merville Battery
www.pegasusarchive.org...rville.htm

Le Grande Bunker, Ouisterham
travel.webshots.com/al...9496yeDNsO

Saturday morning drive to the invasion beaches at Arromanches, spend the morning there.

Arromanche
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arromanches

Saturday afternoon we head to St Michel Monastry (doris wants to visit this) about a 2 hour drive and stay there Saturday night.

St Michel Monastry
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/mont-st-michel.htm

Sunday easy drive back to the Hague, taking in a few places on the way.

For those that have been, does that sound reasonable.
 
#11
Sounds good.
Worth trying to add in Longues sur Mer battery on your way over to Arromanche (if I remember my geography right) or even on your return leg. Won't take you long to wander round it, its still pretty much complete with guns and big holes fram Naval Gunfire. If I remember rightly (you would need to confirm) its an open site and you can wander in of an evening if that helps your itinary, but do confirm that bit!
 
#12
#13
Sounds perfectly reasonable mate. We did most of it by bike except the Pegasus Bridge and Merville batt part.

Good luck and no doubt you will enjoy it.

On a final note from me, it may be worth visiting the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, purely just to see the amount of men actually lost in their part of the landings, again, very humbling.
 
#14
Sounds like a great plan Ord, echo The_Dukes comments re; Merville Battery. Also worth keeping an eye out for the memorials above Aramanche, quite a few were either spruced up or erected for the 50th anniversary. Don't forget the digital camera!

Is the original Pegasus Bridge still 100yds down the bank - thought there was a possibilty of it being taken for scrap a couple of years' ago?
 
#15
Thanks for the suggestions jagman, Longues sur Mer battery is on the drive up to Arromanches. Good suggestion devilish, I was thinking of cemetery's for the Sunday drive back, so the American Cemetery at Omaha can go on the list.

Yes I'm after the British perspective Mr D, at least for this first small trip. Has anyone read D-Day and Beyond: Forgotten Voices of the Second World War By Max Arthur? Thats also and audio book.

Publisher's Summary

The 1942 raid on Dieppe was an attempt to test the enemy readiness, and take some pressure off the Russian front. It was a costly disaster, but lessons learned there were of the utmost importance to the D-Day planning. After a massive build up of men and materials, the D-Day landings finally took place in Normandy on June 6th, 1944. Despite vicious battles and stubborn resistance, within 12 weeks the Allied forces invaded Paris. To compound the enemy's problems, the allies invaded southern France and rapidly advanced northwards. In desperation, Hitler released his "secret weapons", the V1 and V2, over Britain. Slowly but steadily, the Allies advanced through Belgium and Holland, and despite setbacks at Arnhem and in the Ardennes, finally reached the shores of the Rhine. After a hazardous crossing they finally advanced to meet the victorious Russian Army. Hitler, Mussolini and their cohorts were all dead or captured, and the war was over, at the cost of millions of human lives.

©2004 Max Arthur and the Imperial War Museum; (P)2004 Random House Audiobooks
Imperial War Museum, so hopefully more like a bit of what I'm after, with a British/Commonwealth slant. Not knocking our American cousins contribution of course, just trying to take in a bit at a time ;)

Many thanks guys for all the input. I can see I'm going to have to put aside another week this summer :) If I can only make an impression with this on the Doris then I'm going to be quids in for visiting more often. ;)
 
#16
ABrighter2006 said:
Is the original Pegasus Bridge still 100yds down the bank - thought there was a possibilty of it being taken for scrap a couple of years' ago?
Now part of the museum on the East side of the bridge. Safely preserved.

Stephen Ambrose has a distinct bias to his version of history, not always entirely truthful either.

I'm sure Mrs Ord_Sgt will love Normandy, lots of good food and pretty countryside etc.
Keep treating her to a nice restaraunt or two and it'll keep her sweet for another trip ;P
 
#17
Oh I always do that, I enjoy a good bit of French food and some fine wine as well ;)

Pete_the_writer, sorry I missed your earlier post, great idea though, I've just ordered a copy of that book.

Thanks again for all the input. I thought organising this was going to be a bit time consuming, but of course I should have known the power of arrse would pull through. :D
 
#18
Rather than just visiting the allied cemeteries, the German cemetery at La Cambe is worth a visit. It's quite a contrast from the bold white crosses at the American ones in Normandy, with its understated dark stone plaques almost flush with the grass. Wittmann's grave is also there, with his tank crew.

And I agree about Ambrose' D-Day book. When I read the line 'up until this point Britain hadn't produced any war heroes, except perhaps Monty', I didn't enjoy much about what he wrote about the British from that point onwards.
 

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#19
devilish said:
Sounds perfectly reasonable mate. We did most of it by bike except the Pegasus Bridge and Merville batt part.

Good luck and no doubt you will enjoy it.

On a final note from me, it may be worth visiting the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, purely just to see the amount of men actually lost in their part of the landings, again, very humbling.
when i went to the cemetery 2 years ago i was surprised to find it shut at something silly like 1630,and i mean shut, gates locked and sullen french guards out which was strange as yanks were pouring up the road and many had travaled long distances prehaps its a throw back to 9/11,but check times before hand.
 
#20
So much to see, so little time. Holt's guide is priceless if you need to plan a tight itinerary. I stayed at La Cambe a few years ago and can recommend a walk around the German cemetery. I also enjoyed Point du Hoc aswell as Merville and the other sites. Slightly off topic but if you visit Bayeaux take time to visit the tapestry exhibition by the cathedral. It's all French propoganda of course but a pretty important event in our history too!
 
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