We took this trip November 2012. It was always on our bucket list because of Omaha Beach-Normanday etc. It was a beautiful, history filled trip. The museum at Caen was so full of information and one of my most memorable moments was when our PD have us each a rose to place on one of the graves of our brave servicemen/women who died. Many of us placed our flower on an "unknown" grave. My words can neve describe the experience.
Now we did something a little different pre and post. We flew into London on our own six days ahead of time and toured London on our own. The public transportation was great. The first thing I saw was Big Ben and I was just floored! Our first time in London and seeing Big Ben [well, it's Elizabeth's Tower and the clock is BB]--but I digress. We had to go up the London Eye at night for a fantastic view. Saw most of the places first time tourists see: Buckingham Palace, changing of the guard, Westminster Abbey,10 Downing Street,The Tower of London, crown jewels, Imperial War Museum and the Churchill War rooms, walked through Picadilly, saw Baker St and avoided going into the Sherlock Holmes museum, passed by Ripley's but it was not our thing so like Sherlock we did not go in [your choice] and went into Kensington Palace. Our hotel was one block away from Kensington Palace.We did all that in 4.5 days but we did walk a lot. Yes. Harrods which was ok--just to say you were there. There is a far better store in Paris where you go to a top floor and can view Paris [for free]--Galleria Lafayette.
Then we too the Eurostar to Paris and caught up with GCT. The GCT ended for us in Paris and we stayed about four days in Paris, again on our own. We opted to go to Versailles with GCT but visited the Louvre on our own the next day.The GCT Paris overview was nice and helped us in making decisions on what we wanted to do in Paris.
I was leary of France because of all the old stories you hear re: American-French visitor treatment. We had a ball and fell in love with France and it's people. Ditto London. We always have a great time dining on our own for dinner. So many neat places-good local stuff everywhere. We did luck out by having a friend who was spending 6 months in Paris meet with us one Sunday. Went to mass at Notre Dame and visited the local area with her.
Our PD warned us ahead about the gypsy's around the Eiffel..they did try the "I found a gold ring on the ground" with us. We saw a gendarme and two of the police on the bikes found the culprits and shooed them away. At least for a while. Typical tourtist beware type of thing. No worse than any other city in US or Europe.
We had unbelievable beautiful weather for the entire trip..I mean the ENTIRE trip. I believe we had only one day in London when we opted to take a taxi back to the hotel from Harrods instead of walking because of rain Friends of ours had been on the same ship just before us and told us how cold they were in Caen etc. We sent them a photo of us in short sleeves. It was November--- You never know with the weather. We were so fortunate. The entire trip was superlative.