Careful Planning


The Hotel du Casino - overlooking Omaha Beach - Normandy

Looking out across a field of poppies - Audembert, France


Traveling in France is a joy, the countryside is beautiful and the people are wonderful and hospitable.

Let me guide you some of the areas that I have been to on my last two trips to France in 2013 and 2016.


Careful Planning


One of the first things to consider before even booking your trip to France is to plan carefully before you go, don't wait until you get there!

Figure what you want to see and where exactly you want to go. In regards to WWII museums and bunker locations in France you need to realise a a number factors to take into account first.

Normandy for instance is not entirely easy to get to, it's a trek, a beautiful one but it's a journey nonetheless so be prepared and don't worry I will prepare you in this section on how best to get there.

The Pas de Calais and other regions too will be featured here, what I like to call "bunker country". In this area there is some really beautiful countryside when visiting the remains of the Atlantik Wall as well as the nice variety of museums.

The first thing I did before booking my flight was to think about what I wanted to see and where I wanted to go. I always wanted to go to Normandy, so in 2013 I sat down and browsed through a few books on D-Day, the landing beaches and the coastal defense networks of the Atlantik Wall.

I selected a number of different locations and planned from there.

Looking at Google Earth I pinpointed the locations and the sites I had in mind.
From there I added place markers as to where my locations would be and once I had everything in place I exported the place markers from Google Earth to my desktop PC. The next step was also relatively simple. If you have a Garmin GPS for your vehicle I strongly advise you to purchase the French Road Maps package by Garmin. What you will need to do is to connect your Garmin GPS to your PC using the USB cable that should have come packaged with the equipment at the time of purchase.

After purchasing the French road maps from Garmin download the software to your PC. Connect your Garmin GPS device to your PC and then upload the French road maps software to your Garmin GPS device.

The next step is to make sure you have all of your places of interest ready to be downloaded from Google Earth.

When you are ready go to Google Earth and select with your mouse and click Save As. You are going to Save As to your desktop or folder of choosing and the file will be saved as .KMZ file. The file format is the format in which Google Earth codes the navigation data including latitude and longitude.

Click to enlarge example


Once you have downloaded the .KMZ files it's now ready to upload them to your Garmin GPS device. Now since my 2013 visit Google have removed a great feature that once allowed you to upload the .KMZ files directly to your GPS device, why they did this is a bit a mystery to many of us that loved that feature. But never fear! a solution is here!

There are in it's place a number of excellent mapping software programs on the market including Garmin BaseCamp, EasyGPS, Expert GPS and so on.

Once you have purchased this software you can easily follow the directions and upload your .KMZ files directly to your GPS device. From there you can re-name or keep the same names of the locations you want to visit, mount it in your car in France then select whatever location you want to go to based on the .KMZ files you uploaded.

To the left the Garmin City Navigator Map pack - France -
click to buy from Amazon.com
This saved so much time and hassle by having GPS set up, no messing around with a great big paper map! Though I do caution not to rely on GPS alone! Make sure you bring a map of the region you are visiting, I have listed 3 versions below that you can purchase via Amazon.com

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