I would like to travel to Normandy beach and the surrounding areas of Northern France. This trip is something that I want to do but now got to do it in on a very frugal budget. Is it cheaper to drive or take the train from Germany? Personally I would like to take the train but have no clue as to which train take which will save money. Are there any hidden costs I get slammed with the trains?
Also, is there anyway to find apartments to rent in that area? How do you go about doing that?
Any advice and help appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Did this trip with a family of 4 in June 2010. We spent a week in Normandie. Our base for the trip was in Colleville-sur-mer, right on Omaha Beach across the ravine from the American Cemetery featured in Saving Private Ryan. Utah Beach and Point du Hoc are an easy drive and you can get fresh oysters that are grow on the Utah beach.
From Omaha Beach, you are close to the Contentin Peninsula, St-Mere Eglise and St-Lo are great places to visit. St-Mre is where the paratrooper got stuck on the church steeple and got to watch the battle. The Paratrooper Museum is also located here.
Re. Train vs Car cost. Don't know the price diff, however, a car is probably a must once you get in that area. You could probably train to Caen and rent there...
Caen was an objective for the first day of the invasion. I took a little longer than that. One of the tours guides at the Abby des Hommes was there when this place was liberated by Canadians! He had tears in his eyes when telling us the story. So did we! William the Conqueror is buried in this Abby and his Royal Castle, one of the biggest in Europe is at the centre of town.
On your way out of Caen, you can stop in Bayeux and see the famous Toile de Bayeux. It describes the the tale of WIlliam the Conqueror and his conquest of England.
A must see spot, even is not related to WWII, is Mont St Michel, an UNESCO world heritage site. MIND BLOWING.
Showdogs1, Thank you for replying and the information!
I did hear about Mont St. Michel and want to see it even if I have to stay there a few extra days. Is the Normandy beach (Omaha/Utah as well) close to Mont St. Michel? Now, I am thinking of driving there. It certainly would be more convenient many ways.
I am thinking of going in May during the Memorial Day weekend. Is the weather at that time still cold in the Normandy/Mont. St Michel area?
Thank you once again for the info!
Google Maps says it is about 2 hrs. That means yes, it is close for a North American. Plan on about 3 hours at the Abby. The guided tour of the Abby was well worth it.
On the way out, you can stop at a butcher shop in Pontorson and get some of the special lamb they have there. The sheep in the area of the Abby eat the grass after the tides go out => the salt (left behind on the grass) affects the taste of the meat. It was about $40 US for part of a rear leg. Sound expensive but it fed my family of 4 for 2 meals, mmmmm.
Weather... Hmmm, highly variable in the Spring on the coast of the English channel. Be prepared for anything.
Just outside of Colleville there is a small producer of Calvados. Fun stop and you can try this drink made of apples instead of grapes (cognac). We brought a bottle of 12 yr old calvados home.
You should definitely have a car if you want to travel around the Normandy beaches because apart from the big cities it's really difficult to go from one village to another without a car (unless you speak decent French and feel comfortable using the bus system) I would definitely go to Omaha and Utah Beach, the American cemetery, la Pointe du Hoc, Sainte Mère l'Eglise and Caen, also the Mont St Michel if you have the time is a must see! When I was younger I even crossed (with a guide) the Mont St Michel bay in the sand when the tide was low, a wonderful experience!
Now, when you say:
I would like to travel to [...] the surrounding areas of Northern France.
What do you mean? Do you want to go all the way to cities like Calais, Dunkerque or Lille? Because I know that region pretty well, so if you need any advice about Northern France, I'll be glad to help!