Planning your trip to Normandy

If you’re planning on heading to Normandy to visit some of the historic war sites here are some tips to ensure you get there safely and easily.

Transportation to Normandy

The two easiest ways to travel to Normandy are via Ferry and Eurotunnel. Both options can be done if you choose to drive yourself; and which you choose will depend on your location in the UK and the cost of travel. If you don’t want to drive and choose to pick up a car when you arrive, you can still get the ferry, but alternatively you can jump on the Eurostar from Kings Cross in London to Paris. Both options will allow you to pick up a car on your arrival in France, and the drive from Paris to Caen where a lot of the sites are is under three hours.

If you are going to pick up a car from France make sure you check how far away the rental car is from the port you are arriving at.

A lot of people think going from Dover to Calais is the only option when it comes to travelling across the channel, but there are far more options than this including:

  • Brittany Ferries have routes that leave Portsmouth and arrive at Caen, Cherbourgh and Le Harve, all of which have good access to Normandy and D-Day historical sites.
  • Brittany Ferries also run their ferry service from Poole to Cherbourgh.
  • P&O Ferries run a ferry route from Dover to Calais, and Caen is just under a 3 and a half hour drive from Calais.
  • DFDS Seaways also offer a ferry route from Dover to Calais. You can also travel from Dover to Dunkirk which is just over a 3 and a half hour drive from Caen. Alternatively their third route goes from Newhaven to Dieppe which is under two hours away from Caen.

With so many options there are several things you need to take into account when booking a ferry. It is important to look at the distance the port is from your location in the UK. You will be doing enough driving in France so you don’t want to have to spend longer than you need to driving to the UK port. It is also worth checking out the prices for different routes as you may save extra money by leaving from a port slightly further away, or arriving at a port a few miles further from where you’re headed.

If you decide to take the Eurotunnel you can get a train from Folkstone to Calais in just over half an hour. From Calais, Caen is just under a 3 and a half hour drive.

Getting around Normandy

A lot of the D-Day and Normandy sites are spread out along the South West coast of France with some venturing slightly further inland so public transport can be a little tricky to navigate. We would highly recommend you either take your car with you or hire a car when you are in France to make your travel between sites easier.

For example if you decide you want to travel from the La Cambe German war cemetery in La Cambe to The Memorial du 19 Aout 1942 which is a memorial dedicated to the Allied soldier who lost their lives in Operation Jubilee, you might struggle to get between the two on public transport taking the best part of a day, but the drive itself is only about two and a half hours.

By choosing to travel by car rather than public transport you will have the flexibility of changing your travel plans at the last minute if you want, or changing the order of visits due to weather or other conditions.

Driving in France

If you do take your car with you from the UK there are a number of items that you need to carry with you when you’re driving. You must have:

  • Your full driving license alongside your paper counterpart
  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of vehicle ownership (V5C)

When driving through France there are a number of items you must ensure that you have with you in the car:

  • A GB sticker must be placed on your car
  • Your car must have headlamp beam deflectors on
  • You must carry two breathalysers at all times
  • You must carry a warning triangle
  • A reflective jacket must be stored in the vehicle within easy reach

For more information on driving in France check out tips on The RAC website or get some handy tips here.

When driving in France you should always ensure that you never allow your fuel levels to get low because rural petrol stations can be quite hard to find. A lot of places close for lunch, and some aren’t open on Sunday’s.

It is likely that you will have a GPS/ Satellite Navigation system with you to help you move from one site to another, but bear in mind in France it is prohibited for drivers to carry devices that are capable of detecting speed cameras.


While no one goes on holiday and thinks about getting ill it’s always handy to be prepared just in case.

UK citizens should have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which will enable you to access state provided healthcare in France at either a reduced cost, or for free should you get ill or injured on your travels. The card will cover you for treatment right the way until you return from France to the UK and it also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions which you may have.

You can download a EHIC app from your Smartphone which will explain how to use the card and tips and information on health care in different European countries. You can find out about costs, emergency contact numbers, treatments and what to do if you’re ill directly through the app.


Most phone providers now will allow you to pay a few pounds a bit in order to use the same calls and texts abroad as you do at home. For example you may pay £3 a day but get your unlimited texts and calls the same as you would back in the UK.

If you are staying in France for an extended period of time, or your network has higher usage charges then it might be worth getting a cheap pre-paid sim like this one. This may prevent you from coming back from your holiday and getting an unexpected bill.