I've been there twice. First time w/ a tour van--which I highly recommend and I'm not much of a tour guide traveller. The travel area of all the highlights from WWII is about 75 miles wide. My DH and I stayed more nights and saw what we didn't see w/ the guide the next day. And then went back 5 years later. We LOVE this area and Brittany too.
It is a very humbling experience.
Best starting point is in Bayeux. It is possible to take the train from Paris to Bayeux but you would have to leave Paris very early and the train station is far from the pick up point for the guide. And then Caen is not to be missed.
In Bayeux there is the Museum of the Tapestry (Musee de La Tapisserie De Bayeux A 100 meter (I think, may be shorter) tapestry outlining the Battle of Hastings. You may want to see this on your trip to Bayeux.
We stayed once at Hotel Churchill and another time at Hotel Lion D'Or in Bayeux. We liked Lion D'or better but nothing fancy at either place.
Since you're in the area, if you have not been, would also recommend Mont St. Michel. Either a day trip or spend the night up on the Mont. It is an abbey built in the 13/14th century that is dedicated to St. Michael.
There is at least one small hotel on the Mont and when the tide comes in at night, you can't get off the island. I heard they were, or did build a causeway since we were last there, but you'd have to check that out.
Mont St Michel for several years was the most visited tourist attraction if France, more than the Eiffel Tower.
I could go on and on, we love this area and Brittany. I would love to retire here when the time comes.
If you just post questions I will do my best to answer them.
Ah one more place we loved. The town of Saint Mere Eglise in Normandy. There is an airborne museusm, small doesn't take long.
But also There is a famous church where a US paratrooper named John Steele was hung up on the steeple of the church at the beginning of the D Day invasion. He hung there for I think 2-4 hours and pretended he was dead. But he was captured by the Germans, and later managed to escape.
The movie "THE LONGEST DAY" is about his story.
You will enjoy your tip much more if you read about the area and the history before you go. There is a LOT to see, that I haven't even mentioned. The British cemetary for one. Also the history of what happened w/ the British, Canadian and Australian troops is very interesting. We Americans sometimes forget, that we were part of the "ALLIED FORCES."
And read about mulberrys or false seaports that were built in the English Channel. That's how Hitler knew the Allies were up to something but he was sure the landing point was not going to be at Omaha Beach but further north. In the town of Arromanche, there is small museum, which is not be missed and best place to see what the sea has not destroyed of the original Mulberrys.
Gold, Sword and Juno Beaches are where the Canadians British and I think some Australians landed. We mostly landed at Utah and Omaha Beach, but the fog hampered our ability to hit the Germans prior to the landing. That's why there were so many casualties
Also must go to see Pointe du Hoc where the Rangers landed on the cliff. Battelbus will take you to all the beaches I mentioned, pointe du hoc and the american Cemetary. If I remember right, they also take you to the British Cemetary. They also take you to Arromanche.
thank you SO MUCH for sharing this information. husband would like to take this trip with his parents (and me of course ) so i hope we can do it in the next few years. h and his dad are major history buffs and both of his grandfathers fought in WWII (so did mine but he always pointed out that he spent most of his time in the brig...)
Have this problem when I'm at sights of tragedy (pearl harbor, world trade center,etc) An overwhelming sense of sadness. I sob, to myself quietly. Usually people think I personally lost someone there. Still feel a need to see this. A little crying never hurt anyone.
Woo Hoo Vegas Long Legs and Dawn. Thanks for your kind replies. I love this area of France and nearby Brittany. I love to visit all that there is to see of the D Day area.
It's a holiday you won't soon forget and when you get home, you tell all your friends and family about it until they're sick of hearing about it . If you get a chance, would highly recommend that you go.
In the small visitors center of the cemetery is a map of the gravesites if your family is looking for an old relative--can find them by name. Or the staff can help you find them.
Two of President Theodore Roosevelt's sons are buried there. The oldest Theodore Jr. died of a heart attack in Normandy; and Quentin his youngest was shot down by the Germans.
Two of the Niland Brothers for which "Saving Private Ryan" was based on are buried there also.
The American Cemetary is on Omaha Beach owned and maintained by the United States.
I did it with a private guide and it was EXCELLENT. The area is very vast so you need to either rent a car, go with a tour group or take the train and have a guide waiting for you in Caen. (That's what I did)
ETA: the guide I used is Alain Chesnel, here's the site: