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What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

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What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby kirkpoore1 » 14 Sep 2019, 03:26

Guys:

My 78-year-old dad just got back from a European cruise that stopped at Normandy for a day or two. He wanted to do the whole D-Day invasion thing, but the time was far too limited. So he wants to go back next year. His wife didn't enjoy that part of the cruise so doesn't want to go--so he invited me and will be footing the bill.

I, of course, said yes.

The only difficulty is that I may be changing jobs in January and will need to build up some vacation time, as well as having another commitment in June. So we're looking at July or later. When is a good time to go, with good weather and moderate crowds? He wants to do mainly WWII stuff, but I also want to find medieval things too, so have to factor in that type of crowd.

A second question, which you may not be able to help with. Is there anywhere near Normandy to fly in other than Paris? We will likely be coming from Chicago. It's not that I have anything particularly against Paris, but I've found smaller airports much easier to deal with than big ones.

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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby greeno » 14 Sep 2019, 06:59

2nd week of Sept.

Schools have gone back and the weather is often still good enough for just a t shirt.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby RogerS » 14 Sep 2019, 07:08

AndyP's the man to answer your questions, I think, as he lives in or near that neck of the woods.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Andyp » 14 Sep 2019, 07:17

greeno wrote:2nd week of Sept.

Schools have gone back and the weather is often still good enough for just a t shirt.


I agree. School summer holidays here are July and August. Before we had kids we always came in September. It can rain anytime of year of course but should be still be in the low to mid twenties in early September.
A shame if you cant make the D-Day commemorations around 5/6th June.

The medieval castle of Falaise is well worth a visit as is Caen of course.

Caen does have an airport so does Deauville and Le Harve but I doubt you will be able to fly into either of those direct from the US.

I live just 10 mins from Pegasus Bridge and 20 mins from Caen. Please drop me a PM you would be welcome for a cuppa (tea of coffee) and cakes could be made.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby RogerS » 14 Sep 2019, 07:29

Andy's right about flights. They are all small regional airports with mainly seasonal flights so probably easiest and more choice - ie cheaper flights maybe - to transit via Paris.

I think Andy means Le Havre.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Andyp » 14 Sep 2019, 07:58

RogerS wrote:Andy's right about flights. They are all small regional airports with mainly seasonal flights so probably easiest and more choice - ie cheaper flights maybe - to transit via Paris.

I think Andy means Le Havre.


:oops: Late night and chimney sweep arrived at 7.30am!

Rouen also has an airport but as Roger says too small for direct transatlantic flights.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby RogerS » 14 Sep 2019, 10:09

Interestingly I think that I could get to Caen with only one stop .

LoganAir from Carlisle Lake District to London Southend. Then Flybe to Caen. :D
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Woodbloke » 14 Sep 2019, 11:44

If you're in that neck of the woods in 'la belle France' this is a 'must see' - Rob
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Andyp » 14 Sep 2019, 12:08

RogerS wrote:Interestingly I think that I could get to Caen with only one stop .

LoganAir from Carlisle Lake District to London Southend. Then Flybe to Caen. :D


Any time Roger, any time.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby kirkpoore1 » 14 Sep 2019, 17:22

Woodbloke wrote:If you're in that neck of the woods in 'la belle France' this is a 'must see' - Rob


Oh hell yea the Bayeux tapestry is on the list, along with Mont St Michel. Sounds like Falaise castle too. Maybe Château Gaillard.

He wants to tour the beaches and battle sites with a guide. I don't know whether than means with a group, which would of course be much less flexible. I'm figuring 6-7 days in country besides a day of travel on each end.

Andy, I will keep your invitation near the top of my list.

Sounds like Paris is the only reasonable flying option. After that, if not on a tour then a train to Normandy and maybe rent a car for the week.

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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Rod » 14 Sep 2019, 19:53

Well at least you’ll be driving on the wrong (right) side

I finished reading Max Hasting’s “D Day” a few days ago.

Very scathing about the fighting qualities of the Allies compared to the Germans. They were better trained, organised and better equipped in every type of weapon except quantities and replacements.

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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby RogerS » 14 Sep 2019, 21:01

Rod wrote:....
I finished reading Max Hasting’s “D Day” a few days ago.

Very scathing about the fighting qualities of the Allies compared to the Germans. They were better trained, organised and better equipped in every type of weapon except quantities and replacements.

Rod


Is he talking about the Army ?
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby kirkpoore1 » 14 Sep 2019, 22:42

Rod wrote:Well at least you’ll be driving on the wrong (right) side

I finished reading Max Hasting’s “D Day” a few days ago.

Very scathing about the fighting qualities of the Allies compared to the Germans. They were better trained, t and better equipped in every type of weapon except quantities and replacements.

Rod


I’ve read different. There were certainly gaps in Allied training, such as dealing with hedgerows. And there were certainly leadership failures at all levels (though nothing as monumental as Hitler’s Operation Luttich, the failed counterattack after the Cobra breakout). But given that the defense is always harder than offense, I think the Allies did pretty well without incurring excessive casualties, Russian style.

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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Woodbloke » 14 Sep 2019, 22:59

Rod wrote:Very scathing about the fighting qualities of the Allies compared to the Germans. They were better trained, organised and better equipped in every type of weapon except quantities and replacements.

Rod


That statement is open to question Rod...you need to dip into stuff by James Holland (a Salisbury lad) to find an alternative view point :eusa-whistle: - Rob
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Andyp » 15 Sep 2019, 07:45

Weren’t the better trained German forces held back by Hitler as he thought the whole Normandy invasion was a division until it was too late?
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby RogerS » 15 Sep 2019, 07:56

Andyp wrote:Weren’t the better trained German forces held back by Hitler as he thought the whole Normandy invasion was a division until it was too late?


Even Rommel was at home, IIRC, as he didn't think an invasion was likely.

Were they better trained, though ?

Another excellent book is Air Force Blue written by Patrick Bishop and also Tirpitz by the same author.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Woodbloke » 16 Sep 2019, 08:29

Andyp wrote:Weren’t the better trained German forces held back by Hitler as he thought the whole Normandy invasion was a division until it was too late?

This is a much perpetuated myth. Some of the Nazi forces were indeed better (eg. Panzer units) but they were relatively few in number. The German forces weren't even mechanised to same extent as the allies and relied on a huge number of horses for troop and equipment movements.
The web of deceit sown by the British (the Americans were relative newcomers to the art) with the use of double agents throughout the war was staggering (Garbo, Tricycle, ZigZag, Op. 'Mincemeat' etc) and also there were wasn't a single Nazi agent at work anywhere in the UK throughout the whole war, thanks to the secret information obtained from Bletchley Park - Rob
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby RogerS » 16 Sep 2019, 09:20

Woodbloke wrote:
Andyp wrote:Weren’t the better trained German forces held back by Hitler as he thought the whole Normandy invasion was a division until it was too late?

This is a much perpetuated myth. Some of the Nazi forces were indeed better (eg. Panzer units) but they were relatively few in number. The German forces weren't even mechanised to same extent as the allies and relied on a huge number of horses for troop and equipment movements.
The web of deceit sown by the British (the Americans were relative newcomers to the art) with the use of double agents throughout the war was staggering (Garbo, Tricycle, ZigZag, Op. 'Mincemeat' etc) and also there were wasn't a single Nazi agent at work anywhere in the UK throughout the whole war, thanks to the secret information obtained from Bletchley Park - Rob


Fully agree with you, Rob, apart from the last part (in bold). I've never come across any reference to any role played by Bletchley Park in the apprehension of any German agents.

I also think 'deception' is a much better word than 'deceit' ! We were bloody good at deception :lol:
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Woodbloke » 16 Sep 2019, 12:15

RogerS wrote:Fully agree with you, Rob, apart from the last part (in bold). I've never come across any reference to any role played by Bletchley Park in the apprehension of any German agents.

I also think 'deception' is a much better word than 'deceit' ! We were bloody good at deception :lol:


The Ultra decripts from Bletchley Park gave ample warning to MI5 about German agents, most of whom were appallingly trained. It's estimated that the Abwher tried to infiltrate around 200 agents into Britain but all were caught, interrogated and either persuaded to become double agents or, if they didn't, they were executed.
Have a dip into the books by Ben MacIntyre about the murky world of espionage and double agents during the war. He's also written an excellent account of the Soviet defector Oleg Gordievsky (straight out of an 007 movie but all true) and an equally superb account of the so called 'Third Man', the infamous Mr. Philby who worked for the Communist cause within the very highest echelons of MI5 right up to the point when he did a runner to the USSR from Beirut in '63 - Rob
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What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Rod » 16 Sep 2019, 12:39

BP picked up the messages re the German spies and they were all rounded up. One was “turned” and gave false info to the Germans.

Better trained probably not, but they had better tactics. They were quick to fill any gaps, whereas the Allies tended to fall back. They were defending which was an advantage, they also seemed to be made of sterner stuff. The majority of the Allies were “green” Experienced troops placed with them, having survived Africa, Sicily etc thought they had done enough and were loath to put their heads over the parapet.

It took the Allies a long time to realise that Tanks needed close infantry support. They would charge on ahead cavalry fashion, leaving them open to attacks from the very effective Panzerfaust.
The Allies had known for many years the design and features of the German tanks they would come up against but they kept on producing very inferior types. Apart from the poor soldiers killed in the “Tommy Cookers” the Allies had the resources to quickly replace them.

The Luftwaffe was nearly wiped out so the Allies had virtually the skies to themselves. However the Allies man-in-charge of the Air Forces, Leigh-Mallory, had a great dislike of the Army and was often very uncooperative. He failed to intercept the Panzer group traveling to close the “Gap” at Caen.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Woodbloke » 16 Sep 2019, 16:09

Rod wrote:BP picked up the messages re the German spies and they were all rounded up. One was “turned” and gave false info to the Germans.

... the design and features of the German tanks they would come up against but they kept on producing very inferior types. Apart from the poor soldiers killed in the “Tommy Cookers” the Allies had the resources to quickly replace them.

The Luftwaffe was nearly wiped out...

Yep, BP did in fact pass on the decripts to MI5 who caught all the Nazi spies sent to the UK. Some were turned, but many were executed,

Some German tanks were vastly superior to anything the allies had, but the Tiger and King Tiger tanks were over-engineered and far too complex which was the reason that there weren't many of them.
One of the main thrusts by author James Holland about WW2 was the vital significance of materiel supplies, particularly so when the USA entered the conflict. With the vast manufacturing capacity of the US (once they got geared up) the defeat of the Nazis was inevitable as they simply couldn't compete. Also consider that the Allied blockade of Europe meant that the Nazis were literally starving towards the end; they had little fuel supplies once the Romanian oilfields were denied to them as well as a hugely diminished supply of vital war raw materials with which to build weaponry.
Bear in mind also that they were caught in a pincer movement with the Red Army to the East and the Allies to the West and South, pushing up through Italy.

At the height of the U-boat threat, when they were causing havoc to the convoys, there were only ever a maximum of 12 boats at sea at any one time. James Holland maintains that if the Nazis had concentrated their efforts on building many more relatively cheap submarines instead of hugely expensive capital surface ships, the outcome of the war would have been very different :shock: Even so, many convoys got through with far more supplies landed in the UK than ever went to the bottom of the Atlantic.

At the end of the war, the Luftwaffe was pretty much a 'spent force' although they did have some highly advanced aircraft designs which might have made a difference had they been effectively introduced much earlier, but by the closing stages of the war, there were very few fully trained pilots left to fly them - Rob
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby droogs » 17 Sep 2019, 22:51

Hi Kirk
For local info AndyP is your man, but just to let you know. Over my time in the British army I conducted several battlefield tours during my time as a DI (mostly organised by our outgoing QM as he went on to work for the CWGC) for recruits. Most of these were done in and around the weeks leading up to and just after the D-Day anniverseries. The reason for this is, for those wishing to do mostly WW2 related stuff, this is the best time to go, as the whole area goes crazy about it. The area is basically transported back in time due to the number of re-enactors, people dressing up in period clothing and the number of tours etc goes up exponentially (although tours are conducted all year round). I don't know if you are specifically looking for UK or US related things, but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for UK stuff is excellent. As are the various museums in the area.
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Re: What time of year is good to visit Normandy?

Postby Andyp » Yesterday, 08:01

I am more familiar with the British & Canadian sectors at the east end of the beachheads and more specifically, around here, the 9th Para battalion and their exploits around Pegasus Bridge, the Merville Battery and the Chateau St. Come. There are memorials on every crossroads around here and many more in between. Every June for the past 12 years I have had the pleasure and honour of meeting veterans of the Para brigades who dropped around here on the 5th/6th. Some of whom not only dropped in Normandy but Holland too.
The Americans of course were concentrated further west and I know that area less well.

When I was planning a tour of the Gettysburg battlefields two years ago I spoke, via email, at length to one of the guides there. He was a member of the Association of Battlefields Guides and remarkably knew my local patch here in Normandy quite well as he had taken a few guided tours here himself. I never got to meet him in person as I was violently ill the day of our planned visit but wife and girls went and enjoyed a personalised 2 hour tour of Gettysburg and it’s memorials.
Kirk I can forward his details if you want.
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