Visiting the Landing Beaches
The five beaches of the landing sector extend over 50 miles of coastline, and then of course the fighting moved inland. There is therefore so much to explore that it is impossible to do everything and choices do have to be made.
Very often, visitors will have a single full day to explore the beaches. While this allows for an excellent overview, it does as I say mean making choices... Distance-wise, going to Utah will probably mean not seeing Juno, for example, and vice versa. Hence the importance of discussing itineraries and specific wishes beforehand.
Two days (or more!) are ideal : one day for the American sector, another for the British and Canadian beaches, for example. With more time to get off the beaten track...
(Some visitors really do only have the possibility of a half-day. While not optimal, this does just give time to visit perhaps two major sites, eg. the American Cemetery and Arromanches.)
Living as I do at the junction of the American and British (including Canadian) sectors, I do believe that getting a feel for both, with their respective geographies, is helpful to give an overall picture.
Time permitting, I love to share the story of the liberation of my village, Port-en-Bessin : its role as the meeting-point for the two armies and as the first petrol port deserves to be better known. And it's a beautiful stop !
If the story of D-Day is key, June 6th was just day one and the Battle of Normandy would rage on through the end of August 1944. Some visitors will be interested in the Battle of Caen, the taking of Saint Lô, the Cobra offensive, the fighting to close the Falaise gap...
There are some excellent museums and visitor centres along the coast but often people will prefer to visit these on their own, optimising their time with the guide by concentrating on the different actual sites themselves.
It is a lovely coastline, and the weather can be wonderful... But it can also be unpredictable – wind and rain are not unknown ! – so please come prepared (walking shoes, fleece and rainwear just in case).
A last but important point : it is always a privilege to accompany veterans or those with a family link. Please do let me know, so that I can research and propose an appropriate itinerary.
Enjoy the D-Day experience !