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Anyone been to the D-day beaches?

Travel Forums General Talk Anyone been to the D-day beaches?

1. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

I've been thinking of taking a small side trip to the Caen region of France this November for Rememberance/Armistice/Veteran's Day. I'd like to attend the Canadian ceremonies, but have so far gotten the (very polite) run around from Veteran's Affairs.

I'm hoping to retrace the steps my grandfather took when he was there - he left a detailed account of where he landed and each city he crossed through, so I've got my "map". All I'm missing now is some sort of "permission" or day pass to attend. Actually, I don't even know if I need one, really - hence this post! Plus I was wondering about how to get around from place to place in the area since I am to be without a car.

Has anyone attended ceremonies on any of the beaches? Or have you visited the area and have some interesting adive/stories/recommendations to share? I'd love to hear from any of you who've actually traced the steps of a relative - whether they were in the war or they had other equally life-changing journeys to make...

2. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 11y

Are you going to fly to England first. You could get the train from London to Portsmouth (1 hour). Spend an afternoon at the D-day museum and then sail across on the ferry to Le Havre/Cherbourg and then maybe you can look at the coastline as you approach and try to imagine what your grandad must have been thinking(assuming your grandad wasn't a para). My uncle is actually in the process of trying to do the same, unfortunately there are still a few gaps that are proving really difficult to fill in. We know where he landed on d-day+3 and where he was until about november. At some stage he was assigned to another unit and this is where he 'disappeared' until about february/march so we are not sure the route he took into germany. In the next few years a few of the boys in the family are going to retrace his steps. I wish he had made a record like your grandad, then we could have done the trip already

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

Hi Tway

Ive been there - not retracing any steps or anything - but I imagine that you would enjoy it all the more for that. It's a lovely part of France. I have a huge interest in war history and I found it to be a very sobering and humbling experience being there.

I got around by car there so I'm no help to you on that score unfortunately. But as it is much visited part of the country at all times of the year, I'm sure there are plenty of public transport options from place to place.

What you're doing sounds exciting - good luck;)

4. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Thanks to both of you!

Dave, I'll be leaving from Belfast so I could probably fly to London pretty cheap and then take the train and ferry. That actually sounds like a fantastic idea - I was thinking I'd have to fly in to Paris and take the train from there. But making the trip by boat... I'm so glad you mentioned it.

My Grandfather made a video tape of himself a few years back, describing his experiences in the war. He never let anyone see it, though, claiming it was ours "when I'm dead." He talked to me about bits and pieces in the last few years, and if I remember right he was actually transferred to England and landed with the British. He passed away last October, so now my Grandmother is gathering all the information she has, including the detailed account he wrote a few years back for Veteran's Affairs. I'm hoping to plan the trip with her help.

5. Posted by Cupcake (Travel Guru 8468 posts) 11y

Tina? Did you get my PM?

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Yes, Joz, thank you! I'm just answering it now.

7. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 11y

As i'm an ex Royal Navy man and still live only 15 miles from Portsmouth if you need specific info let me know as i'm in a good position to find out for you if i don't know already. Train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth will take about an hour and a half. The ferry trips take about 6-8 hours depending on where in France you go. I think 3/4 a day leave for France maybe more. Good luck with planning the trip. Like i say if i can be of any help just give me a shout and i will try to assist.