Normandy Destinations

Ouistreham

Ouistreham is a resort town and port with regular crossings between France and England. It is in the Calvados department in Normandy and situated at the mouth of the River Orne. It is 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Caen to which it is linked by road, by the River Orne and by the ship canal, Canal de Caen a la mer.

During the Second World War, Ouistreham was occupied by German troops and from 1942 the beach became a no man’s land and was part of the Atlantic Wall, an extensive system of coastal defences and fortifications built by Nazi Germany against an expected Allied invasion from Britain. On 6th June 1944 this invasion took place as the British army landed at Ouistreham (codenamed Sword) and fought their way to Pegasus Bridge. Museums in the local area mark these events and visitors can travel to the renowned Sword Beaches.

We sail along the Canal de Caen a la mer to the site of the Pegasus Bridge, a road crossing over the canal. The bridge was originally named Benouville Bridge and renamed after the emblem of British airborne forces, the winged horse Pegasus. The Pegasus Memorial Museum tells the story of the Normandy landings on the 5th and 6th June 1944. The original Pegasus Bridge is now a centrepiece at the museum having been replaced in 1994 by a modern day version of what is known as the ‘Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridge’ or ‘rolling bridge’.

Caen

We sail along the Canal de Caen a’ la Mer, a short canal that links the English Channel to the city of Caen. Caen is a port and university city and the capital of the department of Calvados. It is 15 km (9.3 mi) inland from the northwestern coast of France, located in the heart of Normandy and 200 km (120 mi) northwest of Paris.

Caen has many historical links. It was once the home of William the Conqueror of England (c.1028 – 9th September 1087) and his wife Queen Matilda (c.1031 – 2nd November 1083). Each commissioned a grand abbey to be built and they are now buried there. William in the Men’s Abbey and Matilda in the Women’s Abbey. They are impressive buildings that remain today and are open for visits despite the destruction of much of the city during the Battle of Normandy in 1944. Caen was finally liberated on 9th July 1944 and in its memory a memorial and museum dedicated to peace can be found at the Memorial de Caen.

The city centre was carefully restored following World War II and is an inviting place to visit with its shops, markets, restaurants, museums, and public gardens. In the centre of town you will find the yachting marina, the Bassin Saint-Pierre.

Port-en-Bessin

Port-en-Bessin is located in the Calvados department in Normandy.

The Battle of Port-en-Bessin also known as operation Aubery took place from 7th to 8th June 1944. It was captured by the Royal Marines and used as a terminal for PLUTO (Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean). Operation PLUTO constructed submarine oil pipelines under the English channel to supply the forces in the Normandy landings and their advancement rather than use coastal tankers that could be affected by bad weather, vulnerable to air attack and needed to be offloaded into potentially visible storage tanks ashore. The pipeline was eventually extended to the Netherlands and part of the pipeline remains there in the town, Beek en Donk

Today Port-en-Bessin is a bustling fishing town with an active port. It has a warm and friendly atmosphere with plenty of eateries to enjoy a Rouge-certified Normandy scallop, a speciality of the town.

Grandcamp Maisy

Grandcamp-Maisy is located on the coast in the Calvados department of Normandy between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. The beaches have retained the code names given them following the Normandy landings.

During World War II Maisy was the site of a large German headquarters and gun batteries. In 1944 it was buried in the fields of Normandy by American engineers and for over sixty years it remained undiscovered until a British military historian rediscovered the site by researching an American invasion map. The site was unexpectedly large and contained a labyrinth of trenches and tunnels with office bunkers, supplies buildings, general quarters, radio rooms, and many other blocks, including an underground hospital. He purchased the site, excavated it and turned it into a museum. Maisy Battery Museum opened in 2006 and you can walk through 2km of original German trenches and explore this long forgotten site.

Grandcamp-Maisy is an active fishing port, with a fish market located on the harbour side. There are a range of eateries for the hungry traveller.

Carentan

Carentan is a small rural town in the Manche department in Normandy. It is situated on the River Douve estuary surrounded by vast wetlands and marshes, bursting with wildlife and slightly inland from the beaches at Normandy. It’s a great place for bird watching. The marshes have some bird hides so you can watch the wildlife unobserved and the estuary has its own colony of seals. The estuary is one of only a few places in the world where there are mascaret tidal waves – a wave that makes its way upriver from the sea.

World War II had a huge impact on the area. Although a small rural town its location was important to the Normandy landings as taking the town back from German occupation gave the Allies a continuous defensive line against expected German counterattacks and was the consolidation of the U.S. beachheads (Omaha Beach and Utah Beach). It was key to capturing back the cities of Octeville and Cherbourg, with the crucial port facilities in Cherbourg. Its capture started with a dawn assault and it was a difficult house to house battle with German troops who were planned and prepared. US forces who led the capture maintained possession of the town despite a German counterattack on June 13th to the southwest of the town. It became known as the Battle of Bloody Gulch.

The American mini-series and war drama, Band of Brothers (2001) created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks dramatises an account of World War II from the perspective of ‘Easy’ Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. It was critically acclaimed and won the Emmy and Golden Globe awards for best mini-series. It gives an account of the liberation of Carentan.

For shoppers, Monday is market day where you can sample the local produce and visit small shops where you can buy local terroir products. Seafood dishes such as smoked trout or trout marinated in Calvados and basil as well as cheeses such as Camembert, Livarot and Pont l’Evêque.

For those who like walking and cycling there are nature trails and cycling routes around the town. Carentan is also on the Tour de Manche cycle

Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue

Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is in the Manche department in Normandy just a short journey from the port of Cherbourg. Tatihou Island, a small island opposite the port can be visited on foot at low tide. You will find a maritime museum, beautiful botanical gardens, a bird reserve and cafes to sit and watch the world go by. Trawlers are moored in the port of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and oyster beds are visible at low tide; it is the oldest oyster basin in Normandy.

Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue has a long history. Excavations have revealed human occupation during ancient times. It has played its part in many battles between England and France including a failed Anglo-Saxon invasion, The Hundred Years’ War and the War of the English Succession. Two fortified towers built from 1694 to defend the bay were listed in 2008 as part of the Fortifications of Vauban UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was in recognition of the work of the military architect Vauban (1633-1707). Shortly before the Normandy landings the Germans left Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and on 21st June 1944 the port was the first Channel port liberated by the Allies.

In 2019 it was voted France’s Favourite Village by viewers of the TV programme Village Préféré des Français, a testament to its narrow streets, great restaurants and coastal location.

Cherbourg

Cherbourg is a maritime town located in the department of Manche at the northern tip of the picturesque Cotentin Peninsula.

Cherbourg has one of the largest artificial harbours in the world that was built during the 18th century and it is an important part of French naval history. In the 20th century it was from here that the Titanic stopped on the 10th April 1912, collecting 281 passengers, before setting sail again. Twenty-four passengers stepped safely off the ship at Cherbourg having only booked the cross channel crossing. During World War II Cherbourg was the primary goal of US troops during the invasion of Normandy (1944) so that it could supply their campaign in Western Europe. In the present day it continues to be an important Channel port between France and England, Eire and the Channel Islands as well as welcoming ‘Our Lizzie’ from the UK and cruise ships from different parts of the World.

There is plenty to see and do in Cherbourg. One highlight is a visit to the Cite de la Mer Maritime Museum situated in the former Art Deco transatlantic terminal building (Gare Maritime) where ocean liner passengers used to embark and disembark. The museum is made up of themed areas that tell the story of underwater exploration, immigration from France to the USA and the story of the Titanic. There are also aquariums full of sea creatures and the opportunity to look around the disused French nuclear submarine, Le Redoutable, which is the world’s largest submarine open to the public.

In the Old Town there are fish markets and seafood restaurants where you can sit and enjoy a drink, maybe calvados, the local brandy made from apples or pears while eating the local cheeses and watching the boats in the harbour.

Booking Your Adventure

Bookings can be made for the whole boat or on a couple / individual basis.
Couples can book the En-suite Fore Cabin or the Saloon on this site directly.
There are two separate single cabins available for individuals or crew. We ask that single guests call us as there are different booking formation options depending on the group size and other bookings.
She is ideal for families and small group holidays offering an unrivalled experience of classic maritime charm, history and grace.