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France day trip
daniel3721
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Has anyone done a day trip to either normandy invasion or mt saint michel? My question is if it is possible to do both in one day? Thinking about renting a car and leaving first thing in the morning and trying to visit both in a day. I know preferably a day at each would be great, but if this is the only opportunity to see either, is it worth it to try and do both? If not, which would you recommend seeing? thanks

oldlady
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I’m not sure either is a reasonable day trip from Paris and both would be next to impossible. I think you might be able to do Mont St. Michael by taking the TGV Atlantic to Rennes (300 km/hour on the train will beat 100 Km/hour in a car) and renting a car, doing a tour or using train and bus from there. The Normandy beaches would be a difficult day trip unless you used a tour. Even Europe by Eurail, which outlines some seriously long and complicated day trips recommends doing an overnight to Normandy. A google should get you some of the tour companies that do day trips to Normandy from Paris. Almost all of them use the train from Paris to Caen or Bayeau as it’s faster than by road.

Please post back if you actually do this. I’m seriously thinking of going to Mont St. Michael from Paris and have been wondering if it’s actually (as opposed to theoretically) doable as a day trip.

eggywegs redux
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I think the hardest part of doing either of those day trips is getting around once you’re there. Even if you’re willing to spend 4-5 hours on the train, finding a bus to take you to the beach or the castle would be pretty time consuming. Mont St Michel is 45 min by car from Rennes; you probably would end up spending a lot more time traveling than actually visiting the place.

Cil
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I can’t imagine doing Mont St Michel as a day trip out of Paris—that is one heck of a car trip, it’s got to be at least 3 hours, probably closer to 4, you’d have to get up awfully early.
We got to MSM early and it was already crowded when we left.

We did see Mont St Michel and the Normandy beaches in the same day, but we were already up in Brittany (Cancale) when we began.
Afterward we spent the night in nearby Bayeux because I really wanted to visit the memorial at Caen the next day—it really enhances what you’ve seen at Normandy.

Seeing just the D-day beaches out of Paris is doable, if a lo-ong day.
It’s just not the kind of place you rush through.

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Some things are just so popular (read crowded) that you can’t see them as well in person as you can on one of the many videotapes available. We went to St. Peter’s in Rome, stood in a very long line, then got inside and it was so crowded you couldn’t really see anything. Michelangelo’s Pieta was in a corner behind a rail, poorly lit, and the crowd was about eight deep along the rail, all jostling for a better spot. It was not a pleasant day, and I have seen it to much better display on a number of videotapes. We skipped MSM for that very reason; if you want to actually enter it, you face long lines and blocked views.

By contrast, the Invasion sites were, at least on the days we were there, not at all crowded and very viewable (be alert, however, as we stood on Utah beach looking at the sea, my wife was almost run over by a trotter and sulky, apparently they train there and are not used to having people in their way).

Caen is a relatively short train ride from Paris, and the car rental places are right across the street from the station. With good planning, I think it would be easy to see the invasion sites and the Bayeux tapestry in a day; leave plenty of time for the memorial at Caen; it is extensive and interesting. They have a little restaurant there so you could spend your morning, eat, and then see the actual invasion sites in the afternoon.

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oldlady
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Quote:
Caen is a relatively short train ride from Paris
The train times have improved significantly in the past few years. It used to take 3 to 4 hours, it’s now about 2 hours. You certainly couldn’t drive it in that.

You can look at the landing beaches and visit the memorial (I’d recommend a minimum of 2 hours for that) in a day. However, with the time involved in renting and returning a car (even if it’s pre-arranged) and the huge array of sights available, I still wouldn’t recommend it as an on-your-own day trip for somebody who is seriously interested in WWII. I think a packaged tour makes more sense if you really want to do it as a day trip from Paris.

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Good idea about that little restaurant at the Caen memorial and seeing the Bayeux tapestry.
The Tapestry with audio accompaniment is a must see, truly fascinating, but I did not care all much for the town of Bayeux.
We didn’t have any trouble getting into Mont St Michel, and the setting is amazing, but it was plenty touristed, that’s for sure.

oldlady
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Quote:
We didn’t have any trouble getting into Mont St Michel, and the setting is amazing, but it was plenty touristed, that’s for sure.
Cil, isn’t there a fair amount of time involved in actually seeing the place, as opposed to just taking the picture?

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Maybe it would be best to spend the night near mont st michel and see that in the early morning to try and avoid the big groups of tourists and then heading to the beaches of normandy? You’d have to do a longer drive at night and find somewhere to stay, but it might make your ‘day’ stretch a little longer.

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daniel3721
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Thanks for all your responses, i think the best bet would be to see normandy and stay overnight there and then head to msm. thanks again

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oldlady wrote:
Cil, isn’t there a fair amount of time involved in actually seeing the place, as opposed to just taking the picture?

We did not go to Mass, nor did we eat there—we didn’t even walk much on the causeway.
We did climb up as high as we could in one of the towers, and visit the monks’ garden.
The layers of history are interesting, but my husband can only take so much of that stuff.
We were there for under two hours, maybe more like an hour and a half.
The peace museum at Caen was another story—we spent a long time there, so much to absorb.