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Le Havre - Normandy Beach DIY Excursions?


NAJNLA

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We'll be arriving at Le Havre on the Crown Princess on September 4 at 7 AM, with a sailaway time of 8 PM. The two of us usually do our own DIY tours in most ports, but still haven't figured out what to do in Le Havre. We've never been there before, and our main goal is to see as much as possible of the landing beaches and other sites related to D-Day.

 

We're looking for ideas for a DIY itinerary. We would prefer to take public transportation, but wouldn't mind renting a car if public transporation isn't available or doesn't go to the right places. Does anybody have any suggestions?

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Just a word of caution. I had rented a car at Paris airport and planned to drive to Normandy myself, as the tours were just too expensive. We arrived in Paris to rain, fog and low hanging clouds. I cancelled the car, as visibility was just terrible, and didn't want to risk driving directions in that kind of weather in unknown territory. And I thought the day at the beach area of Normandy would be worse. So just to forewarn you, be prepared with a plan "B".

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We toured the beaches from Cherbourg. Its maybe a bit closer than Le Havre. I don't think you will find any public transportation that will be suitable. We rented a car. It was quite easy driving and we had a great day.

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Just a word of caution. I had rented a car at Paris airport and planned to drive to Normandy myself, as the tours were just too expensive. We arrived in Paris to rain, fog and low hanging clouds. I cancelled the car, as visibility was just terrible, and didn't want to risk driving directions in that kind of weather in unknown territory. And I thought the day at the beach area of Normandy would be worse. So just to forewarn you, be prepared with a plan "B".

 

Since GPS is avaialble the chance of getting lost is very small...

 

Regards,

HeinBloed

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We'll be arriving at Le Havre on the Crown Princess on September 4 at 7 AM, with a sailaway time of 8 PM. The two of us usually do our own DIY tours in most ports, but still haven't figured out what to do in Le Havre. We've never been there before, and our main goal is to see as much as possible of the landing beaches and other sites related to D-Day.

 

We're looking for ideas for a DIY itinerary. We would prefer to take public transportation, but wouldn't mind renting a car if public transporation isn't available or doesn't go to the right places. Does anybody have any suggestions?

 

Let's see what we can do:

 

September 4 is a Friday. So we need to have a weekday schedule.

 

The general problem is that the sommer schedule is not released yet.

 

So let's check for another Friday like May 22, 2009 just to see if it would work with public transport:

 

Let#s be optimistic and you get soon from the ship, grab a taxi to get to the bus terminal at the train terminal:

 

dep 07.55 Route 20 to Caen

arr 10.31 in Caen

transfer

dep 12.15 Route 30 to Bayeux

arr 13.23 in Bayeux

 

Here is the War Museum and you are right in the center of the D-Day Beaches:

 

http://www.mairie-bayeux.fr/index.php?id=230

 

The D-Day tour starts...

 

http://www.normandywebguide.com/

 

You wrote that your ship is leaving 20.00 hrs... but Le Havre Port Autorities say 19.00 hrs.

 

So let's be safe... and try to be back in Le Havre at 18.00 hrs

 

arr 18.14 in Le Havre... tough... if the departure is 19.00 hrs...

dep 15.30 Route 20 from Caen

transfer from

arr 13.41 in Caen

dep 12.35 Route 30 from Bayeux

 

I. e. you must leave earlier from Bayeux than you would arrive...

you need to be lucky that you are first from the ship

you need to be lucky that your bus is not delayed and you can grab immediately a taxi once you arrive back in Le Havre...

 

So do not wonder that I did the research for you...

 

I did for myself for my INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS cruise where we stay two days in Le Havre.

 

One-way it's about 70 miles and 1.30 hours away if I drive myself

 

vs

 

5 1/2 hours in a local bus, i. e. more NYC-Transit-standard than Greyhound...

 

NOT WITH ME... I'M OUT WITH THE BUS...

 

So my decision is made: I will definately hire a car and drive by myself!

 

Especially the landscape of Calvados is extremely beautiful and "dangerous". You will find a lot of destilleries enroute where you can try some Apple Spirit... and maybe I'll be glad to have my trunk with me...

 

What ever you decide for yourself: this was just the result of my investigations and I know that I will book a car.

 

And on the way you can see additionally Honfleur...

 

Regards,

HeinBloed

 

N.B. We are this May in Le Havre and booked our car with

 

http://www.lehavretourisme.com/Rent_A_Car_Croisiere_2008_000.pdf

 

They will deliver right to the cruise terminal once the ship arrived.

 

Send a mail to Julien - speaks perfectly English: le_havre@rentacar.fr

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We'll be arriving at Le Havre on the Crown Princess on September 4 at 7 AM, with a sailaway time of 8 PM. The two of us usually do our own DIY tours in most ports, but still haven't figured out what to do in Le Havre. We've never been there before, and our main goal is to see as much as possible of the landing beaches and other sites related to D-Day.

 

We're looking for ideas for a DIY itinerary. We would prefer to take public transportation, but wouldn't mind renting a car if public transporation isn't available or doesn't go to the right places. Does anybody have any suggestions?

 

Hire a car and buy a good map. Relying on public transport especially if you are unfamiliar with the country (and they also speak a funny language) is asking for trouble unless you have lots of time in hand.

 

The D-Day Beaches are over 55 miles long. And they start approx 50 miles from Le Havre. So there's a fair bit of driving.

Start from the furthest point and work your way back allowing ample time to get to Le Havre.

 

Otherwise, go on the web and you may find a Safari that will take you. But you really need a group of 6 to make it economic ($130 / $150 per person)

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Get out of Le Havre, its a dump with nothing to offer. D-Day beaches are a good choice, but forget public transport. Taxi only if you've got stax of cash. You need an organised tour or a car rental.

With a rental car, take the main road out of Le Havre (use the narrow underpasses to avoid junctions), & head on the A29 over the Normandy Bridge (Pont de Normandie - bridge toll about 4 euros) to take the fast A13 Cherbourg road to Caen by-pass, then country roads to the coast at Courseulles-sur-mer, at the western end of the British "Gold" beach. Head west for 5 miles into Arromanches, small museum and remains of the temporary "Mulberry Harbour". 75 miles & 90 minutes from Le Havre, Now you're in the American sector. West on the D514 for 10 miles takes you to the main American cemetary & memorial near Colleville, and a further 8 miles to the heavily-cratered german defensive complex at Pointe du Hoc, overlooking Omaha. 2 miles further on you drop down into the fishing port of Grandcamp-Maisy, and back onto the main N13 - you are now 90 miles, well under 2hrs, from your ship, but allow at least 3hrs. If you have time continue west along the N13 for 23 miles (30 mins), to Ste Mere Eglise. Excellent airbourne museum, close to the church made famous by the paratrooper who got caught-up on its roof (his dummy still hangs there in his harness). On Utah beach, near La Madeleine, about 8 miles (15 mins) away is a very good D-Day museum on the beach. You are now something over 2 1/2 hrs from the ship, but allow at least 3 1/2.

Return along the N13. If you don't eat into your time safety-margin, just before the Pont de Normandie, drop into the picture-postcard fishing/tourist harbour of Honfleur, 15 miles (25 mins) from your ship. Honfleur is the most popular "easy" day trip.................Have a good one. John Bull

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Thanks to all of you for the good information. Much appreciated! :)

 

One further question. If we rented a car at Le Havre, would we have time to see both the Utah and Omaha landing beach areas and Mont Saint Michel on the same day and still get back to Le Havre before the ship sailed? It looks like going there and back from Utah Beach would add about 150 miles to the total driving distance.

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Thanks to all of you for the good information. Much appreciated! :)

 

One further question. If we rented a car at Le Havre, would we have time to see both the Utah and Omaha landing beach areas and Mont Saint Michel on the same day and still get back to Le Havre before the ship sailed? It looks like going there and back from Utah Beach would add about 150 miles to the total driving distance.

 

As we are planning doing the same:

 

Le Havre - Mont St. Michel = 2.15 hrs - 2.30 hrs

Mont St. Michel - Bayeux = 1.30 hrs

Bayeux - Le Havre = 1.30 hrs

 

Bayeux is only set as an reference point. You will only shift the single driving time but not the total.

 

I. e. 5.30 hrs driving vs. allocation of remained time for the sights:

 

We will do it because our ship has an overnight stay in Le Havre.

 

We can start so early the second day that we might have breakfast in Mont St. Michel.

 

But how about your ship:

 

total possible stay time

./. 5.30 hrs

----------------------

how much is left???

 

Then you can decide if you can do both on the same day.

 

Regards,

HeinBloed

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Just touching base at 2 beaches and Mont St Michel is 325 miles and 6 hrs driving. That's mainly on fast boring roads where you won't see "France", and excludes unforseen delays. Bayeux (avoid the town centre, can be gridlocked) is inland, about 15 mins from the beaches Do you want to see these places, or just tick them off on your list ? Theoretically its possible & it's your butt in the seat, not mine, but in all honesty you won't do them justice in your time-frame, esp if you wisely give yourself an adequate margin to be back in time. I'd be inclined to forget Mont St Michel. .......John Bull

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Thanks to all of you for the good information. Much appreciated! :)

 

One further question. If we rented a car at Le Havre, would we have time to see both the Utah and Omaha landing beach areas and Mont Saint Michel on the same day and still get back to Le Havre before the ship sailed? It looks like going there and back from Utah Beach would add about 150 miles to the total driving distance.

 

Last year we rented a car at the port (prebooked), then drove the freeway to the beach areas and American Cemetery. We drove through some of the scenic countryside on our return and stopped in Honfleur for 1-2 hours before getting back to the ship in time for sailing. Mont St. Michel seems like it would be a stretch to do if you want to see the beach areas and any of the associated history.

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Thanks to all of you for the good information. Much appreciated! :)

 

One further question. If we rented a car at Le Havre, would we have time to see both the Utah and Omaha landing beach areas and Mont Saint Michel on the same day and still get back to Le Havre before the ship sailed? It looks like going there and back from Utah Beach would add about 150 miles to the total driving distance.

 

Less is more. The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach is itself such a magnificent memorial that it should not be missed esp by any Americans. Walk over and look down at the beaches from the bluffs, get in a German pillbox, there are many. Look down and see just how insane that invasion must have seemed to the 16 year old German youths who were guarding the Reich from there. It still gives me chills.

 

Alternatively one can walk those same bluffs and image William the Duke of Normandy planning his voyage to England or years later a sad and exiled Beckett waiting permission to return only to be killed as he said mass in cathedral. History is alive in Normandy.

 

I would not try to go to Mont St Michel take your time around Bayeux, have some pommeau in Honfluer and return to the ship determined to return to Normandy for the extended time that it deserves.

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Last year we rented a car at the port (prebooked), then drove the freeway to the beach areas and American Cemetery. We drove through some of the scenic countryside on our return and stopped in Honfleur for 1-2 hours before getting back to the ship in time for sailing. Mont St. Michel seems like it would be a stretch to do if you want to see the beach areas and any of the associated history.

Could you tell me which car rental agency you used? I understand both rentacar and Alamo are at the port. Thanks.

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Could you tell me which car rental agency you used? I understand both rentacar and Alamo are at the port. Thanks.

 

We used rentacar. I prebooked an economy size which cost us 85 euro for the full day. I don't remember seeing any other car rental agencies right at the port but I wasn't really looking as we had ours prearranged.

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We used rentacar. I prebooked an economy size which cost us 85 euro for the full day. I don't remember seeing any other car rental agencies right at the port but I wasn't really looking as we had ours prearranged.

Thank you for the info. No problems w/rentacar tacking on any extra charges were there? I'll give them a look see and compare. I'm running alittle behind on planning our DIY Normandy beach excursion, we leave in less than 2 wks:eek:

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Alamo and National are with Europcar in Le Havre. It's 20 minutes walking and they refuse to deliver to the port.

 

If you want to return your car after their office hours they ask you to return to Hotel Mercure which is farer away than their own office. We did not want to return by 6pm if our ship leaves at 9pm. A nice French outdoor dinner in the old port of Honfleur would not been possible.

 

So we were happy to book with rentacar as they will deliver their cars to the port and insurance was included. They ask us to deliver 8 pm our car.

 

You will get a confirmation that you should present credit card and international driving lisence. Ignore it: I called them for another cruiser: US-driving-license holder do not need an international driving license in France.

 

We asked also the the other international car rental brands: some of them are only located at the airport and refuse to deliver as well.

 

Regards,

HeinBloed

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Thank you for the info. No problems w/rentacar tacking on any extra charges were there? I'll give them a look see and compare. I'm running alittle behind on planning our DIY Normandy beach excursion, we leave in less than 2 wks:eek:

 

The only thing additional was for us to fill the tank before return.

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The problem with rental cars in Europe is - you may have trouble finding an automatic. We are in Le Havre on a Sunday, so rental cars aren't an option. I am joining a private tour to the D-Day beaches, so I'm all set. In Cherbourg we are renting a car from Hertz, and we did book an automatic, although it's a compact.

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The problem with rental cars in Europe is - you may have trouble finding an automatic. We are in Le Havre on a Sunday, so rental cars aren't an option. I am joining a private tour to the D-Day beaches, so I'm all set. In Cherbourg we are renting a car from Hertz, and we did book an automatic, although it's a compact.

 

Rentacar at the port of Le Havre is open on Sundays for cruise customers. We rented form them last year on a Sunday and also have a car booked for our return this year on Sunday.

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We are also going on this cruise itinerary (but in August rather than September). After reading these boards, car rental sounds to be the best option in Le Havre. One question....do we need to set up the rental ahead of time or does Rent-a-car have enough rentals in Le Havre to obtain one without a confirmation?

Thanks, Deb C

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We are also going on this cruise itinerary (but in August rather than September). After reading these boards, car rental sounds to be the best option in Le Havre. One question....do we need to set up the rental ahead of time or does Rent-a-car have enough rentals in Le Havre to obtain one without a confirmation?

Thanks, Deb C

 

We prebooked on line with them prior to going and have done so again this year for our August British Isles Cruise. They don't require any deposit and will hold your vehicle I believe until about 0900 that morning at the port for pickup. If you don't claim the vehicle by then, they can rent it to someone else. I think you should prebook just to be sure.

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Thanks for the tip on rentacar, looks like that's the way to go since they deliver to port area. Very convenient. Will be prebooking today. No worries about getting a manual, we have a manual spare car now.

From previous posts, looks like about a 5 hr roundtrip drive to the beaches and then a quick lunch in Honfleur. Sounds like a grand day! Now to get my maps in order or do the cars come equipped w/ GPS option?

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Thanks for the tip on rentacar, looks like that's the way to go since they deliver to port area. Very convenient. Will be prebooking today. No worries about getting a manual, we have a manual spare car now.

From previous posts, looks like about a 5 hr roundtrip drive to the beaches and then a quick lunch in Honfleur. Sounds like a grand day! Now to get my maps in order or do the cars come equipped w/ GPS option?

 

Rentacar has a booth right at the port. You can ask for the GPS option and they provide maps as well. It's a good idea to plot out your route ahead including the turns on the roundabouts (We missed a few).

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Public transport is out.

The only feasible solutions are:

The ships excursion,

A driver guide,

Hire a car and a guide,

A d-day audio guide exists but includes ste Mère Eglise and Utah which are too far away from Le Havre. You'd have to do just the afternoon part -La Cambe, Point du Hoc, Omaha, Cemetery, Arromanches.

Don't just drive around with no guide. You'll waste your day.

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