Normandy Journals

Historic, Beautiful, and Brave Normandy

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An August 2004 trip to Normandy by Ed Hahn

Pegaus Bridge today Photo, Normandy, France More Photos
Quote: Three days is far too short a time. We visit the Invasion Beaches and Cemeteries, the Peace Museum, and the castle at Caen.

Historic, Beautiful, and Brave Normandy

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Overview

Utah Beach Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
We take the train from Paris to Caen. We chose Caen as a base because it seemed most central and to tell the truth all the groovy beach hotels were filled. Unfortunately, it's a three-day weekend, the Feast of the Assumption. Soon after we arrive, we run into a wonderful French couple, the Thomases, who had just relocated to Caen and had once lived in the U.S. They not only give us a ride to our hotel, the Le Dauphine, but they invite us for dinner that evening. Before dinner we stroll along the ramparts of Caen Castle and watch the sunset. We dine in the charming Vaugueaux District of Caen, an area of winding cobble stoned streets, restaurants and shops. Our dinner at a small seafood rest...Read More

Best Western Le Dauphin

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Hotel

Best Western Le Dauphin Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
We check in to the Best Western Le Dauphin, a lovely hotel, which is a refurbished Priory. I find that in Europe, at least France, Germany and England, Best Westerns seem to offer the best value - three star quality, reasonable prices and interesting venues. We are in the older section of the hotel so we do have to carry our bags up two flights of stairs. I understand the newer section has an elevator but lacks the charm of the older antique furnished section. The clerk offers to help, but we realize the bags are bigger than he is so we turn his offer down and struggle up the stairs ourselves. Our rooms, though small, were very bright and pleasant. All the facilities in the bathroom worked...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 11, 2005

Best Western Le Dauphin
29 rue Gemare
Caen, France 14000
+33 (2) 31862226

The Caen Memorial, a Museum for Peace

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Attraction

The Caen Memorial, a Museum for Peace Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
We drive and discover it is very easy to find since it's just off the ring-road freeway (périphérique nord) in Caen exit (sortie) #7. We just follow the signs to the Memorial. The parking lot is packed but there is in a distant grassy area. Aside from the fact that it’s a holiday, I discover later that this is the second most visited museum in France after the Louvre. The setting is beautiful and the building is impressive. Because of crowds, we stand in line for 30 minutes to enter the exhibit area. The exhibits are magnificent, covering the complete history of WW II including the pre-war events leading to the conflict and the phony war, the occupation, the holocaust a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 9, 2005

The Caen Memorial, a Museum for Peace
Esplanade Dwight-Eisenhower, Caen, France Phone: 2-31-06-06-44
Normandy, France

Hand Maid Tours

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Attraction | "Hand Maid Tours (Battle of Normandy)"

Hand Maid Tours Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
Hand Maid Tours is owned and operated by John and Elaine Flaherty, who are English, but who have known France for many years and now live in Normandy. I’ve used them twice: 3 days in March 2003 and 1 day in August 2004. John is the primary tour guide. Elaine fills in from time to time for large groups and oversees their bed-and-breakfast. They are both a delight to be with.John identifies himself as a self-confessed obsessive about D-Day, bunkers, concrete, wine, and Calvados. With his long hair and all-weather sandals, he could be mistaken for an unreformed hippie. But contraire, he spent many years in the business world and studied oenology for years. Elaine teaches ESL, is a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 15, 2005

Hand Maid Tours
Les Volets Blancs, Fierville Les Mines
Normandy, France 50580
02 33 52 91 94

Casement: Longues sur Mer Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
I think it’s impossible to write a review of the D-Day Invasion sites in 500 or even 1,500 words, so I’m positioning these two reviews as “Experiences.”I have visited this area twice. In March 2003, I spent 3 days with John Flaherty of Hand Maid Tours exploring the entire area: all five beaches, the German bunkers and artillery batteries that constituted the “Atlantik Wall,” and the museums and memorials that are to be found throughout this whole area. I will write a separate review on the cemeteries. In August 2004, I once again engaged John to give my friend Tom Trier and I a quick 1-day tour of the invasion beaches. We cho...Read More

Normandy Invasion - The American Beaches

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Story/Tip

Pointe du Hoc Eroding Memorial Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
As I said in the review of the British and Canadian Beaches, this is a story impossible to tell in 500 or even 1,500 words. For a suggested 3-day exploration of all the invasion beaches, see “The Invasion of Normandy – British and Canadian Beaches.”UTAH BEACHUtah Beach is the best-preserved invasion site because there has been little development near it. The museum here is outstanding, as are the memorials in the plaza in front of the museum. I walked the beach and found all kinds of interesting things, like one-man machine gun nests and other oddities. On D-Day, the Utah Beach landi...Read More
Cross of Sacrifice - Hermanville British Cemetery Photo, Normandy, France
Quote:
I believe I didn’t really absorb the significance of D-Day and its aftermath until I visited some cemeteries, particularly the American cemetery situated about halfway between Colleville sur Mer and St. Laurent sur Mer. In 2003, John Flaherty and I visited this cemetery and a British, a Canadian, and two German cemeteries.There are 28 military cemeteries in Normandy, 16 British & Commonwealth, two American, two Canadian, one Polish, one French, and six German. John told me that over 130,000 servicemen were killed in the Battle for Normandy, most of them German. Until the First Gulf War, British war dead were always buried near where they fell, which explains the large number of British...Read More