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Immortalised in classic movies such as The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan, the Normandy Landings was one of the most dramatic conflicts in the Second World War. On 6 June 1944, allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest seaborne invasion in history, aiming to liberate France from German rule.
To this day, the beaches are popular destinations for tourists and for travellers looking to pay their respects and commemorate the events of D-Day. There are memorials, cemeteries and museums in the towns surrounding the beaches.
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The tour begins in Caen, which is 113 miles away from our port in Dieppe, 241 miles from Dunkirk and 215 miles from Calais. From Caen you will drive to Utah Beach, taking in sites from the D-Day Landings, as well as the cemetery at Bayeux and other memorial sites – a total distance of 90 miles.
From the UK we have 3 routes to France, sailing from Newhaven to Dieppe and from Dover to our ports in Dunkirk or Calais, with all 3 offering easy access to Caen.
Once you arrive in Caen you may begin to notice that much of the city still bears the scars of heavy bombing during the Second World War. Head to the Museum for Peace, widely regarded as one of the best World War II memorials around, and set the scene for the next few days.
After the museum, take a short drive to Pegasus Bridge, where the invasions began with a glider attack, and visit the museum there before exploring the beach at Ouistreham, which was codenamed Sword Beach on D-Day and was the site of British troops landing under heavy fire. Overnight in Caen.
Begin your second day by driving 13 miles north to Juno Beach, which is where exiled French general Charles de Gaulle famously arrived ashore following the landings as the first French soldier to set foot in mainland Europe since 1940. From there, you can head to Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches, where allied ships disembarked on an artificial port, commemorated in the Musée du Débarquement.
Longues-sur-mer and Gold Beach saw some of the fiercest fighting during the conflict and you can still see the 2 150mm artillery guns in their concrete casements to this day. Later, drive inland to Bayeux, the first town to be liberated after D-Day. Visit the War Cemetery, with almost 5000 graves from 10 countries including Great Britain, and explore the conflict through photos and personal accounts at the Musée Mémorial de la Bataille du Normandie. Overnight in Bayeux.
Travel the 13 miles from Bayeux to Omaha Beach and you may be struck with a sense of familiarity. Omaha Beach was the setting of the famous opening scene in Saving Private Ryan, where 40,000 American troops landed and were instantly under fire.
There is a memorial on the beach to the lives lost during the conflict, and an American cemetery nearby, the largest of its kind in Europe. Follow the coastline another 28 miles toward Utah Beach, stopping off at Pointe du Hoc, where you can see huge deep shell impact craters and ruined bunkers. Utah Beach is also home to another Musée du Débarquement, where you can see a genuine B26 Marauder aeroplane which fought in the battle.Overnight in Bayeux.
While not part of the D-Day landings, Dunkirk was also the scene of a heroic and famous military operation during the Second World War. Operation Dynamo involved the safe evacuation of over 300,000 allied troops. Visit the Dunkirk War Museum on your way back to port and learn more about this famous evacuation, and why the huge scale of it guarantees it will forever be remembered as a miraculous success against colossal adversity.
Take the 4 hour, 257 mile, drive from Bayeux to Dunkirk and you can sail back from our Dunkirk port, or drive an extra 27 miles to Calais and sail from our port there.