May 28th, 2010, 04:48 PM
My family of 4, (myself, DW and two teenage sons) will be spending 4 nights in Portsmouth prior to our TA on the Epic this June.
I had the thought to take the family for a tour of Normandy and the WW2 sites.
Has anyone ever tried this starting from Portsmouth. If so, some pointers or direction would be of great help.
If this is a stupid idea, please tell me.
I am also posting this on the "British Isles" forum.
Many thanks for any and all input.
May 28th, 2010, 08:40 PM
It's an excellent opportunity, and can be done comfortably in a long day. :)
From Portsmouth, you have ferry options to Le Havre, Ouistreham (Caen) and Cherbourg.
For the American end of the D-Day beaches, Cherbourg is by far your best bet since it's only 1/2 hr drive from Ste Mere-Eglise, with its airborne forces associations & excellent museum, and the US beaches starting just 20 minutes from there.
(For the UK & Commonwealth beaches. Ouistreham is best, it is at the eastern end of the D-Day beaches, just ten minutes from Pegasus Bridge & excellent glider-borne museum.)
Brittany Ferries operate the Cherbourg route with both hi-speed & traditional ferries, for a one-day venture you will need the hi-speed ferry, which crosses in 3 hours.
For times & availability you'll need to run through a dummy booking. Take care- their Poole/Cherbourg route, unsuitable for you, is on the same page.
On a random weekday in June, the timetable includes an outbound at 7am (arrives 11am) & a return at 8.15pm (arrives 10.15pm), giving you around 9 hours in France, which is more than adequate.
These times allow for french time being 1 hour ahead of UK time.
You will need a hire car or tour operator, public transport is not viable for a D-Day tour. It's very very easy with a rental car & a good deal cheaper than with a tour operator.
Because of ferry availability, cost, & rental car terms, if you plan to rent a car it makes sense to book a car from Cherbourg, & cross as foot-passengers.
CC forums are littered with problems renting a car in France on a sunday. It's possible, but I suggest you avoid potential grief & go on a weekday.
The UK is one of the few EU countries which requires travellers to carry their passport when travelling to another EU country.
Been hunting via the search facility for stuff that I and others have posted in response to cruisers porting at Cherbourg & Le Havre, lots of good info about the sights - will try again in the next few days.
Bear in mind that you'll be arriving in Cherbourg later than those on cruise ships - you can sail back later, but because of museum hours etc, you're best to start your tour at the nearest point,Ste Mere-Eglise, & work your way east. And I'm fairly certain that Pointe du Hoc isn't a gated site (but don't trust me on that ;), so can be left til the end, along with Arromanches (where US & UK/Commonwealth landings meet) if you go that far - it has only a modest museum so no big deal if you get there too late, but you can still see the remains of caissons of the Mulberry harbour, built in the days after D-Day.