Top critical review
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Fun read before the trip but useless when IN Normandy!
on 6 August 2012
I had to use this book together with "The 25 Essential World War II Sites: European Theater: The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Battlefields, Monuments, and Museums" since this book doesn't describe the museums well enough, to determine if you really want to go there or not. The other book describes the museums better but has a foul rating system. This book is similar to that one in one respect and that is that it was written for an American audience. Oh yes, it will have itineraries for all five beaches and a sixth one for the British paratroopers that jumped in to take Pegasus Bridge and the Merville Battery, but we have different ways of looking at things. The book tells you how much time you ought to spend in each museum, at each monument and we soon discovered when in Normandy, that Americans look at museums differently than us. We started to call it an American visit when we looked at the times alloted. That nationality rushed in to a museum and looked quickly at the items displayed, didn't read any of the signs and stood and had ridiculous arguments in front of the objects instead of reading and settling their minds. In other words, Americans can go in to a museum and be ready to move on in the 35-45 minutes alloted in the book. Or like this American lady said to her daughter in the Caen Memorial, "we'll stay an hour". If you are serious about your visit, you need to get another book than this one. First of all to get the addresses for your GPS because our GPS did not take the longitude and latitude numbers. Secondly, you need to make up your own itinerary because a museum that says that it takes 35 minutes to visit, will take about 2-1/2 hours in reality, to visit if not more. Just as an example: On itinerary six, when you go where the "red devils" went, it suggests that you go and visit the Caen memorial before you start the tour. Well, we did that and it takes 9 hours to visit the Caen memorial if you skip some of the signs. If you read everything, you need to be there at opening at 9:00 and you will leave when they close at 19:00, meaning that you can not make it to any other place that day! It is also a very expensive museum, costing more than 18 Euros, so you don't want to hurry through it. Another problem was one that we encountered when we went to find "Piper" Bill Millin's monument. After a lot of wrong driving we came to the spot, but the statue is still not erected there since they still have not enough money for it. You start wondering about having purchased the book in the first place when that happens!
I had this book with me all over but found it mostly frustrating and not very helpful. The only thing it really helped with was to show some of the museums and routes and then I collected pamphlets in Normandy to plan my real trip around the place. I had to abandon the book in other words and rely on my own itinerary, created from the pamphlets the museums print themselves, and put in the hotel lobbies and at the museums.