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4.6 out of 5 stars41
4.6 out of 5 stars
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We went to Normandy this summer, to the D-Day beaches, and we took two books, one of them this one.

This is the book that we referred to the most. It is a superb book. Not only is it a guide to the individual sights but it contains a series of suggested itineraries, each of which can be `done' in one day.

The book also gives you a lot of the history behind each site.

My personal preference is to avoid Kindle versions of travel guides. I bought the paperback version of this book and the Kindle version of another travel guide. While the latter's content was good, I found the Kindle format terribly irritating. It taught me that when using a travel guide, you want to be able to flick quickly through it and jump around easily - that's SO much easier with a physical book. In addition, you want it to be in colour - you can cure that by taking your iPad with you but an iPad is bigger and heavier than this book in its paperback version. Travel guides just don't work well in the Kindle format, in my opinion.

You may feel otherwise but that is how I feel. I found the relative awkwardness in flicking around the Kindle book a major handicap.

We also found Brittany Ferries' iPhone/iPad app useful (and very cheap).

For what it's worth, my favourite place to visit was Pointe Du Hoc. Please be aware that you can download a terribly good free iPhone/iPad (and presumably Android) app on Pointe Du Hoc, created by the American Battle Monuments Commission, which will give you an audio tour - just search on iTunes for `Pointe du Hoc'. Also, because Pointe du Hoc is outdoors and is a self-guided tour, you can visit it after other places have closed. So, for example, the US cemetery at Omaha Beach closes at 6 p.m. in the summer - you could go from there to Pointe du Hoc (for example, in July it does not get dark until 11 p.m. so the evenings are beautifully long). The only thing at Pointe du Hoc which you would miss is the museum which closes at 6 p.m. but it is very small - it is nothing like missing the museum at the US cemetery at Omaha Beach. Better still, aim to arrive at Pointe du Hoc at about 5 p.m. to catch the museum.

One tip: if travelling via Le Havre, may I suggest that you visit Honfleur. It is about 20 minutes' drive from the Le Havre ferry terminal, yet only about 5 minutes off the motorway from Le Havre to Caen (so it adds pretty well no time to your journey). You take the first exit immediately after crossing the 'Pont de Normandie' - the impressive bridge - if travelling from Le Havre to Caen. Honfleur makes a great first port of call for breakfast on the way out (if on the overnight ferry), sitting in a café outdoors by the picturesque harbour, or a last port of call on the return journey. It makes for a much more relaxing and civilised end of a holiday than a motorway dash from Normandy for the ferry.

Also, if you have a diesel car, diesel (not unleaded too, sadly) is a lot cheaper in France than in the UK. In the summer of 2014 we paid approximately 1 GBP per litre at which time it was approximately GBP 1.30 in the UK. So don't make the mistake I once did of `doing the right thing' and filling up immediately before leaving home.

Back to the book: even a week with this this book was insufficient time to see all of the key sights. There is so much to see regarding D-Day.
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on 28 October 2012
I purchased several D-day tour books and I think this was the best, most helpful one. It has pages of full color, present-day photographs and good descriptions of the sights. There are many maps in the book, which are helpful. It's a small enough book to fit in a backpack or handbag without being too heavy, but not small enough to fit in a big pocket in your trousers. The cover is laminated, so the book won't get ruined in the rain that Normandy is known for.

The cost of the book is well worth it. I strongly preferred reading this book and using it as a guide at my own pace, rather than paying over $100 per person for a guided tour. My grandfather landed at Omaha beach on D-day, and I wanted to spend more time seeing that beach and the places he fought. If you're interested in Omaha beach, I recommend also reading Joseph Balkoski's "Omaha Beach" for a thorough recount, and using C"ampaign 100: D-Day 1944 (1) Omaha beach", which has GREAT maps of the battlefield and many pictures taken from the war.
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on 20 September 2013
Very comprehensive, but maps not detailed enough, it took some time to find Hillman for example. A pity he panders to the myth that the British and Canadians were slow compared to the Americans, but against all the evidence it has become the accepted story. By and large it was good and I wouldn't have known where to start without it.
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on 25 June 2014
A must have book for anyone doing the D-Day tour, written in such a way that you can dip in or out for shorter trips. Full of fascinating historical details and interesting facts about key individuals together with local info on where to stay and eat. Lots of photo's, particularly of individual memorials. Overall, a thoroughly good read and good value for money.
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on 25 August 2014
I visited D Day site on an escorted coach tour, it was quite excellent. Now I have read this guide book I realize how little I actually saw. Using the guide I am planning a return trip travelling independently.. The book is so clear, well laid out ,packed with information and oozes the fact it is written by a couple with great passion for the area and story it has to tell. I will have it to hand throughout the trip. I can understand why it is dubbed The Definitive guide.
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on 17 July 2014
If you are going to the beaches of Normandy and can take only one book, take this and the map that is issued in conjunction with the book. Updated and easy to read. The tours listed worked for me but then I would expect nothing else from the Holt's. These people have set the standard over the last ten years that everyone else is following. Great read, easy to follow maps with clear photographs of what to look for, splendid as always.
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on 8 June 2015
We've just come back from a tour of the D Day beaches. When I first bought the guide for my wife I was a little unsure about the format. It is separated into six itineraries. One for each of the D-Day beaches and one for the airborne operations around (and to the east of) Pegasus Bridge. After using it in "anger" I must admit I am very impressed. Not only does it tell you ALL the places to see, it explains the back story, and adds interviews with the soldiers who were actually on the ground. If you are going to Normandy for the D Day beaches then take this book! Also if you are going around the 6th June contact the French Tourist Board to see what is going on (there are lots of events).
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on 4 October 2013
I have to give credit to the authors for their phenomenal research. The history, text and descriptions are first class, and this is great resource for anyone visiting Normandy with WW2 in mind. The SatNav co-ordinates are really useful.

However, the layout of the book needs a re-think (e.g. start a new location on a new page) and the over-simplified maps let it down. Also, there's too many modern day photos, many not directly linked to the neighbouring text. More photos from 1944 (if they exist and can be found and used) would be welcome.

Nevertheless, it considerably enhanced my experience of what my father must have been through on the Mulberry harbour.
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D-Day Normandy Landing Beaches

The D-Day commemorations of 2014 were to remember the battles of 70 years prior with the last of those young men who are now in their early 90s at their youngest in attendance. This was probably the last time the brave men would be able to attend and remember their contribution to the biggest invasion on to mainland Europe ever, while also remembering those who never able to go home.

As those who were there grow old and the memories begin to fade, my generation are probably the last to have Grandparents who fought in the World War 2 whose memories were fresh. Major & Mrs Holt first wrote their guidebook to the D-Day Normandy Landing Beaches for the 40th anniversary in 1984, this new book is updated and just as fresh as it was then.

As those who fought become fewer and their stories of what was happening to them and their mates begin to die with them, we need help in remembering what was happening and where. This book is the most definitive guide book to all the beaches even with GPS locations so even the stupid cannot get lost.

There are wonderful background stories so you can understand what you are looking at and why various things happened around the towns and villages. This book helps to bring to life the battles and the stories of those who were there at that time. Sometimes there are stories of the villagers and what they felt and what they saw.

From the approach the soldiers took from Portsmouth towards the beaches to what happened on the beaches as the allies moved towards their targets. It also covers those from the airborne divisions that landed and had to take various bridges and installations waiting to be relieved by their comrades. There are plenty of pictures and maps as well to aid your discovery of the beaches and the various towns.

This is a must have book for all students of history who wish to plan and go to Normandy and honour the memory of the sacrifices made. This is a great book with much need information that takes nothing for granted.
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on 15 December 2014
Bought this a few weeks in advance of visiting Normandie so managed to read it and plan before going in Dec 14. A good guide although, despite stop press at the back, the details of museum opening times is very out of date, luckily most were open in excess of advice. It would be useful for the memorials to be numbered in the text to coincide with the numbers on the maps. However, by pre-planning you could easily cherry pick from the itineraries without doing the complete tour. Overall a very thorough and useful guidebook which made our 4 day trip a great experience.
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