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Old 04-11-2008, 01:55 PM   #1
 
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Default Normandy, and northern France

My 3 month trip next year is going to be a blast, and recently ive been looking at more specifics of where i really want to go.
i would really really like to see the Normandy beaches, pas de Calais, and the such.
i was wondering if anyone has been there before and has any advice on how to go about seeing these things, rental car, train, etc.
i must see them!
thanks
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Old 04-12-2008, 07:14 AM   #2
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Never been there but I am curious to know what kind of things do you want to see?
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:32 AM   #3
 
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i want o see some pillboxes, the landing beaches, and maybe the cliffs that the rangers climbed at Calais. some of the cites, like carentan, st mere eglise, and etc.
i just want to know the most effective way of seeing this stuff without spending a fortune on a tour.
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:45 PM   #4
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Not much for France but I must admit I do like the places mentioned especially Normandy which is perhaps my favorite part of France.
When in Normandy I would see the town of Cherbourg located on the coast it has delicious sea food and nice views of the channel. There is also a museum if I am not mistaken. The most effective way may be just to take a stroll and see what you come across-thats what we did. Of course I getting lost as a child also got to see a French Police station and ride in a police van-a fun experience but not one that I would recommend

Calais...while I have been to Calais many times I have little memory of it aside from my Dad buying wine at the Auchen-a little tip never go to the hypermarkets on the coast. Go a little bit inland because the hypermarkets there are supposed to stock better quality goods.
Another Normandy recommendation is Bayeux home of the famous tapestry. I saw this as a child after studying it in school and was very impressed. For those who do not know the tapestry tells the story of the battle of 1066 where the Normans beat the Anglo Saxons and took over England.
Oh yeah and in Boulogne they have a really cool aquarium/sea life center called Nautica.
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:10 PM   #5
 
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that sounds awesome, how long did you spend in northern france?, any good places to stay? preferably cheaper than the places in paris.
i would be very interested in cherbourg. it would be my last stop before going to london and then home, so i should have at least a week to explore, or even more.
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Old 04-13-2008, 02:07 AM   #6
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As a child I went to France probably a few times or so and would normally stay for a couple of days. If you're looking for a cheap place to stay I recommend the Formula 1 hotels or Etap-I mean they're not super cheap but its not super expensive either its 31euros per night
For more information check out their website http://www.hotelformule1.com/formule1/index.html
Its safe to say that anywhere else in France is cheaper than Paris in fact most places in western Europe are cheaper than Paris. Not saying its not worth a visit but if you do go-bring money
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:19 AM   #7
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We had a fabulous time in Normandy about a year and a half ago. Though we only spent four days all together, we were able to see quite a lot - the fact that it was October and pretty untouristed helped, I'm sure.

We visited four of the five beaches - Gold, Juno, Utah and Omaha, and checked out German fortifications, Allied museums, the point in between Utah and Omaha beaches that the Marines took (that was absolutely amazing - though the name escapes me at the moment), a German cemetary and the Peace Museum at Caen, as well as the Bayeux Tapestry and plenty of great restaurants and pretty little towns along the way. That was in four days, with four kids under 12. And it wasn't a panic - we had plenty of time to spend in the museums, of which the best was the Canadian memorial at Juno Beach. That's not my Canadian bias, it was the newest we visited and really well put together. There are dozens of small museums, you kind of have to pick and choose based on your own interests, where you want to stay and maybe leave some to chance. We also had lots of time to play and walk on the beaches themselves, which would have been more pleasant in the summer, but were still lots of fun.

I think there's more info about our trip with specifics about the museums/landmarks we visited in the family travel forum if you want more details. It'll be in the "museums" topic.

The Bayeux Tapestry was well worthwhile, there's a review of it, as well.

We drove down from Germany, so had our car on hand, it definitely made it easier to get around, particularly among the smaller villages. If you can rent a car for at least that portion of your trip, it will definitely save you some time. Also if you have a car, you can take better advantage of the gites - French B&Bs, which often are very reasonable for solo travelers, and give you a local flavour you won't find so much in the hostels/cheap hotels. Prices are definitely higher during the summer season, so if you can plan your stay during the shoulder or off-season, you'll save considerably. We got rooms at a beach front B&B for about 55 Euro (for up to 4 people/room) which would have been almost double that during the summer. Obviously you won't need to accommodate 6, so you'll have a lot more options. Google Normandy Gites for an idea.

Other highlights in the area are Rouen, Calvados, and the spectacular Mont St. Michel, although that's farther south and would be a fair haul from the D-Day beaches. Good if you're working on a circular type route, though.

On another trip, I really enjoyed a day at Vimy Ridge, for some WWI Canadian history lessons. I believe Arras is the nearest largish town - I know I stayed there when I went.

For Americans, northern Normandy is a very positive French experience. I'll leave it at that.

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Old 04-14-2008, 10:56 AM   #8
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Yeah Vimmy Ridge near Arras is an impressive land mark and if you're interested in WW1 history I would seriously recommend it.
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