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Posted: 3/15/2002 11:05:09 AM EDT
I am off to Normandy next week. We Will land in Paris Tues and drive to a house in Normany that we rented for 1 week. 30 miles from D-Day beaches. Anybody out there been to Normandy? Besides the obvious must see spots (landing Beaches, SteMarie D'Englise) what other sights are worthwhile? Also, any tips on dealing with the frogs?I mean the French.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 11:08:37 AM EDT
don't believe the stories, the french aren't ALL that bad. (but a lot are) don't expect to get ice in your soft drink, (weird). BTW, the book D-Day by stephen ambrose is the best account that i have ever read, it includes a lot of maps and photos you could use.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 11:11:36 AM EDT
I visited Omaha beach a couple of times while I lived in Germany . It was a quite sobering experience , I had tears in my eyes when I realized my grandfather almost died there . Its a must see place and then theres the Normandy Military Cemetary and all those rows of whitw crosses .... sorry getting choked up ... everyone should go there at least once . Kind of makes you wonder whats gotten in todays Americans who so willing to give up their freedoms .
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 11:55:11 AM EDT
Originally Posted By ar15bubba: Also, any tips on dealing with the frogs?I mean the French.
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Don't expect any frog to be thankful in the manner of "My regards to your grandfather and tell him merci for saving our derrieres time and again." Worse, they often refuse to understand English. Be rough, but firm, and bring shiny things ;) Mention baths quite often, and praise their usefulness. By all means, ask to see EuroDisney, and try to pay with US-$$$ wherever you go :)
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 12:30:45 PM EDT
ar15Bubba, My wife and I did the Normandy thing back in '93 just before the 50th aniv. You can drive down the bluff just below the cemmetary at Omaha beach. The beach is pebbly there and really quiet. Just get out of the car and stand there for a few minutes; you'll feel it. Also drive over to Point Du Hoc where the rangers climbed up the sheer rock face-you won't believe how men could have done it. The ground there is littered with bomb craters. A must-see is Phillipe Jutras Airborne Museum in St. Mere Eglise. He's got a real glider inside and a c-47 in the other building that were both used in the invasion. Make sure to sample the local cuisine including Calvados-the local grog. Bayeaux also has a neat little museum with vehicles and weapons on display. You can also view the Bayeaux Tappestry nearby. You'll have a great trip, and don't worry about the language. My high school french came back to me and was appreciated by the locals. Most of them also speak enough English so they get their point across. Have a blast.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 12:48:50 PM EDT
Oh, I almost forgot. About halfway to Normandy on the main road from Paris there is a toll booth. Make sure to head for the lane with the outline of a TOLL TAKER-GUY. All the other booths are automated and you have to put in some kind of card or token. I found that out the hard way! Anyway, the guy came out of the toll house and took my money and sent me on my way. He was really cool about it too. As far as the French people being rude; I've found that they generally respond to the way they are treated. If you act like the "ugly American" they have no problem treating you like one and suddenly don't understand English. Just be as polite as you would normally and you should have a pleasant trip.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 2:00:55 PM EDT
Cool, going to Normandy is probably the only place in france I would want to go. Another place I don't want to miss (in Europe) is Netherlands (or was it Belgium?), I understand there are some great WW2 museums to be seen there.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 3:31:46 PM EDT
7IDL, My wife and I visited the Belgium, Holland and Lux last August. I'm a WWII buff as my dad was involved in the "Bulge" battle in '44 and I wanted to see where he served. All he ever told me was "I was a telephone lineman and they handed me a rusty carbine!" The area is pretty driveable and there is still lots to see. We flew into Brusells on a typically rainy day and started driving. There is a fine museum in Bastogne that has a teriffic display of weapons and equipment from the battle. The museum in Diekirch is unbelievable. It's in an old brewery and has whole floors with dedicated to major events of the battle. It's a must-see for any WWII buff! You can't miss it as it has a 155 Howitzer and Sherman Tank just outside the dooe.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 3:34:56 PM EDT
OOPS, I mean Door.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 4:52:14 PM EDT
I went during Christmas last year. I have pics under one of my Albums. It was sobering standing there looking over the same beaches so many died on. Make sure to take lots of pics and post them. I may never get a chance to go back, but will always remember when I went. Have a good time.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 4:58:09 PM EDT
Thanx Kar98 , but he died 5 years ago and in the confusion someone stole his garand that he was issued and carried on that day .
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 8:03:42 PM EDT
I was there almost exactly 3 years ago. This is a good time of the year to go, although storms can blow in from the ocean which means high winds and heavy rain. The drive from the De Gaulle airport is easy. The Shell-Europe web site has a good trip-tik generator. The tolls are hefty but worthwhile since you can drive on nearly-empty roads most of the way there. One thing which surprised me--Sunday is a real quiet day there. Almost everything is closed except museums. Food and drink (wine/coffee) are pretty cheap. Everything else is heavily taxes and expensive. There are some bigger department stores/supermarkets in Caen and Bayeux but a lot less in the more rural areas of Normandy. What big town or city will you be closest to? Normandy is big region and you will do a lot of driving visiting all the sites. Definitely see St. Mere Eglises and the areas around it where the 82nd fought. Supposed to be a good airborn museum there but it might be closed still for winter. I really liked the Bayeux Tapestry in Bayeux. In fact Bayeux is a great little city with a nice shopping area and some good restaurants. There are some specialized tourbooks for only the battlefields. I cannot get the references right now. Also "After the Battle" magazine (they have a web site) has a lot of specific issues on various Normandy battlefields. Someone has said that there is a great restaurant in Argentan (?) the town where Patton took the Third Army out of Normandy. I do not speak French but had no problems. It would be a good idea to pick up a guidebook like Lonely Planet and a phrase book. LP is the least PC tourbook I can find. Helps to always say "Bon Jour" to everyone. They like that a lot. GunLvr
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 9:30:13 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Fly-n-hitch-hiker: 7IDL, My wife and I visited the Belgium, Holland and Lux last August. I'm a WWII buff as my dad was involved in the "Bulge" battle in '44 and I wanted to see where he served. All he ever told me was "I was a telephone lineman and they handed me a rusty carbine!" The area is pretty driveable and there is still lots to see. We flew into Brusells on a typically rainy day and started driving. There is a fine museum in Bastogne that has a teriffic display of weapons and equipment from the battle. The museum in Diekirch is unbelievable. It's in an old brewery and has whole floors with dedicated to major events of the battle. It's a must-see for any WWII buff! You can't miss it as it has a 155 Howitzer and Sherman Tank just outside the dooe.
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I went to the Museum in Diekirch LUX last month while I was in Germany om a Guard deployment, GOD DID I HAVE A CHUBBY THE WHOLE TIME I WAS IN THERE !!! Not much to look at from the outside but my god that was the best WW2 small arms and militaria collection I have ever seen. Did you happen to notice that about 99 % of the firearms weren't demilled they must have had atleast 20 MP44's. Didn't have much time since they had funky winter hours but I really wanted to go to the Patton museum and Bastogne. Ps.the have a website that is pretty good, do a GOOGLE search for Diekirch and its on the second page....
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 3:23:31 AM EDT
TANGEANT, Yeah, you aren't kidding! How 'bout that tableau that depicted our guys crossing the Our river? They actually had mannequins dressed in period uniforms with boats. And that snow looked real! Since I'm a WWII weapons collector I checked out all of them. You're right-all appeared functional. I could've spent all day there but I think my very-understanding wife might have left me there for good. Even so, she really enjoyed it and learned about the battle. Did you try that Diekirch Beer? It was the best!
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 3:35:14 AM EDT
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. If you want to visit Gen. Patton's grave it is the American Military Cemmetary just outside of Luxemburg City. That place is just as impressive as the one in Normandy at Courville-sur-mer. The German cemmetary is also nearby. The headstones are dark stone crosses. A pretty somber place and even moreso when you realize that each cross has FOUR German dead beneath it!
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 3:52:18 AM EDT
The Steven Ambrose book is "okay", but certainly not the best choice as a guide. I suggest that you obtain the following: -"Stand Where They Fought: A Guide to 150 Normandy Battlefield Sites" by Carlton Joyce -"Major and Mrs. Holt's Battlefield Guide to the Normandy Landing Beaches"----I would suggest, additionally, that you purchase both the Holt book and map. -Michelin Map #231 of Normandie, France At this time of year, be prepared for cold weather, including rain and, possibly, some snow and/or slush. You will also find that some of the more prominent museums will be closed----have fun anyway. I don't know how long you are planning to spend in the area, however, with over 500 memorials, museums, batteries, bunkers and cemeteries----you could spend 4 or 5 days in the area and still not get bored. Be forewarned----visiting the American Cemetery at St. Laurent, overlooking Omaha Beach, is a very emotionally moving experience.
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 10:04:29 AM EDT
Awesome diorama's, Had a few Diekirch beers down the street waiting for the museum to open. It was a 3 hour drive back to Calogne and the group wanted to go to Lux city for dinner so we didn't have time to see Patton's grave or bastogne maybe next time, I did get to see the room he died in at Wiesbaden Hospital when I was there for surgery a few years back. I'll deffinatly revisit the Diekirch museum again ! check out their website, they show some pictures of there diorama's and displays.
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 10:23:20 AM EDT
The French are not that bad outside of the big cities. One way to really get along with them is carry a english/french phrase book and butcher their launguage. They figure if you are willing to try, they will help you out by speaking english. I biked through France and didn't have big problems.
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