10 tips for planning a trip to the Beaches of Normandy

After commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings earlier this year, the Beaches of Normandy continue to welcome tourists to remember the battles that turned the tide in World War II.

Beautiful landscapes, intense history, and a sobering dose of the realities of war all blend to make a worthwhile trip away from the Parisian crowds.

The good news is it won’t break the bank if you plan appropriately.

Tips for visiting the Beaches of Normandy

Here are a few ways to save time and money on a trip to these iconic sites.

1. Give yourself plenty of time

Treat yourself and don’t try to do it in a day. Of course, if you’re pressed for time, you can visit a memorial and a beach during the day and return to Paris in the evening. It’s tough but doable.

Instead, give yourself at least one night in one of the nearby towns so that you can enjoy more of what the Normandy beaches have to offer. Two nights is even better, and hotel rates will usually be cheaper than in Paris.

Related: 8 Paris day trips less than an hour away by train

2. Getting there on the cheap

Public transportation to the beaches is reliable, but it takes time. A train to Caen or Bayeux takes about two hours. From Bayeux, true Cheapos can plan a bus route to the beaches. The line 70 of the Bus Verts, for example, takes about thirty minutes to get to Omaha Beach for just a few for euros. Plan your trip carefully because buses don’t run too often, so missing one could mean a long wait!

The best option, though it will be pricier, is to rent a car from a town outside Paris. It may cost more upfront, but you’ll be able to experience more without a potentially costly taxi ride when you miss the last bus to town.

To see more details about transportation options in Normandy, check out this local website.

Stay in Bayeux for a fairytale experience. Photo: Gaetan

3. Stay in Bayeux

There are numerous options in Bayeux for affordable stays, allowing you to use the charming town as a base for your Normandy escapades. It’s located midway between most of the major sights, making in a convenient option. The town itself has a stunning cathedral and a world-famous tapestry if you decide to stay longer. Search for hotels in Bayeux

Caen is a slightly larger town, and it sometimes has some good deals, though Bayeux is arguably a more worthwhile experience for visitors. If you’re looking for more options, you can search for hotels in Lowery Normandy.

4. See the famous beaches

From east to west, the main beaches are Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah. Omaha Beach tends to attract more Americans since it is also home to the cemetery dedicated to fallen U.S. troops and features the cliffs where Germans defended against the Allied invasion. Each beach has its story, with memorials and museums open to the public.

It’s best to do some research on them beforehand to choose which one or two are most important to you to visit and then plan accordingly, to economize on driving time (and fuel!).

5. Don’t miss the museums and memorials

To understand the importance of each beach, there are exhibitions dotting the coastline and towns around Normandy. Some of the most famous include the Musée du Embarquement in Arromanches where the artificial port was built, Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux, the Le Mémorial in Caen, and the Utah Beach Landing Museum.

It will be impossible to visit every beach and museum, so, again, choose the one or two that seem the most interesting to you. If traveling with children, one might be enough.

American Cemetery at Omaha Beach

The American Cemetery sits on top of the cliff near Omaha Beach. Photo: JRP

6. The American Cemetery is a must-see

The most famous is the American cemetery at Omaha Beach, where white marble tombs face the United States. Its visitor center was renovated in time for the 75th anniversary of the landings in 2019. A visit here is humbling and free, but it’s not the only cemetery worth visiting. British, Canadian, and German cemeteries also line the coast, like the Bayeux War Cemetery, home to over 4,000 Commonwealth troops.

There are dozens to visit, some containing only a few tombs while the American cemetery has nearly 10,000 graves.

7. Take a tour

While ParisCityVision does offer day trips from Paris, consider booking a local guide once in Normandy. Some companies like Normandy Sightseeing Tours offer half and full-day options but get creative with your Googling for other options that might be more intimate or budget-friendly.

The value of a guide is that you’ll be able to learn about the beaches, bunkers, and other sights that you may otherwise just look at without truly understanding what happened.

8. Study your history

If you’re going the true cheapo route and bypassing a guide, then do yourself a solid and study up on the importance of the beaches before going. Those who are unfamiliar with what happened along the Normandy coast may have difficulty understanding the significance of these beaches.

It would frankly be a waste of time to rush out for the photo op without taking a moment to appreciate the fallen soldiers and all that happened on these pristine sandy shorelines.

Related: 10 ways to prepare for your trip to Paris

9. Bag that lunch

A classic tip for any trip around France, be sure to bring your lunch. Fantastic baguette sandwiches and pastries at the local bakery in Bayeux, for example, are affordable and fantastic alternatives to spending time in a mediocre café somewhere on the road.

We’d rather nibble a €3 jambon beurre (ham and butter sandwich) while overlooking the crashing waves than sitting in a roadside cafeteria, wouldn’t you?

10. Make an easy detour to Mont Saint Michel

While going to the Normandy Beaches is an experience unto itself, consider stretching the trip even longer and driving to nearby Mont Saint Michel, an hour and a half drive from Bayeux. It’s not related to the WWII landings, but if you’re halfway there, it would be a shame to miss one of France’s most iconic tourist sights.

Have you been to the Beaches of Normandy?

We would love to hear your experiences on what you saw and how you got there. Share your favorite tips in the comments below!

The post 10 tips for planning a trip to the Beaches of Normandy appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

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