I'm planning to spend June 4th, 5th, and 6th in Normandie, and I expect the D-Day Beaches to be closed for the 75th Anniversary on June 6th. On our last day there, I'm hoping to enjoy the great Bayeux Tappisserie and leave a few flowers at the Reporters Memorial, dedicated to every reporter murdered while on the job since 1944. Then the criminally under-rated Caen Memorial. But what about the other days? If the Beaches are also closed on the 5th and 7th, I would have to reschedule my whole trip! Of course, it's a year away, so there's time to reschedule properly, but I'm a little nervous, because you should book facilities more than a few months in advance! I contacted a PR lady on the Normandie tourist website, and she said the schedule will not be announced until after June 6th 2018! Anybody hear anything yet?!
You are talking about next year, not yesterday?
If it is anything like the 70th anniversary, some parts of some beaches will be closed for part of the day. If foreign dignitaries are expected again, the bigger hassle is that even roads leading to a couple of beaches will be closed except to residents or pass-holders. This was the case in 2014 when President Hollande, Queen Elizabeth and others had a ceremony on Gold Beach. But you could still get to Utah Beach at some point during the 6th (the Queen of Denmark visited that one). The beaches should be more crowded, but not closed on the days before and after. But it shouldn't be too bad. I met Brian WIlliams on Omaha Beach on June 5th after he was interviewing a vet, and I was able to park on the side of the road and walk right up and talk with him. Keep in mind the D-day area is huge, and there is a lot to do and see in Normandy relative to WWII. It is not just the beaches, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. However, if you haven't made your room reservations yet, I'd act fast. Many places are already sold out for that week.
Hi, Nigel - Yes, I'm thinking of the 2019 Anniversary, can't believe I didn't add the year.
You said 75th anniversary; it was fairly easy to assume you meant 2019.
Firstly this is me speculating and I have no inside information.
But we are thinking about going there next June and this is what I've "discovered" via the web. Firstly, there will be commemorations organised locally and by overseas veteran groups, but these would not close an entire beach on the day itself nor affect all beaches at once; instead they will encourage visitors and also include town centre parades, equipment displays, religious services and fly-pasts over the beaches (I cant find it know, but did read something about a planned Daks fly-past including aeroplanes from US). Presumably there will also be services at Bayeux and the other war cemeteries on the day itself.
British companies are already offering D-Day 75 tours, including inviting old soldiers - these are not private or restricted but open to all (not sure what similarly is planned from other countries; I imagine simple geography means there would be even fewer veterans from US, Canada, etc. still able to make the much longer journey?). I expect the region will be crowded.
At present there seem to be no plans for a repeat of the 2014 commemorations which involved the French president and the Queen and many other heads of state, including Mr Obama, and did mean restrictions at beaches/other sites. If I recall correctly, at the time it was said 2014 might be the last such big set-piece commemorations (partly because by 2019 it wasn't anticipated there would be many veterans still around and able to travel).
But there will be some smaller national events that - I am guessing - might close an area for a limited time. For instance, UK plans to use the anniversary to unveil a major new memorial above Gold Beach and presumably the presence of VIPs, old soldiers and relatives might reasonably mean restricted access to the rest of us for a bit in that area. The same could be true if US is planning something similar at Utah or Omaha?
The museums seem to be open and some have already announced revamps, special events/exhibitions all open to us "passing public".
Accommodation looks like it might be at a premium.
We are still planning on being there. I suppose though we need to keep track to see if a big event with heads of state, etc. does happen after all. Please do post if you hear anything from your contact.
Hi, Nick: Thanks so much for all the info! That gives me the confidence to hang on to the plans that I have! Let's hope there are no surprises coming during the year. This is for my 15 year old son and I, and I think the scene you describe will be perfect for him - I'm also looking forward to trying that home-grown Calvados brandy and some Carentan oysters!
btw, the fly-bys you refer to happen every year. C-130s will routinely buzz towns and beaches throughout the week. Often quickly turning for a 2nd or 3rd pass. Every year historic C-47s (Dakotas) fly in for the event and drop paratrooper re-enactors. However, 2019 will be much larger, and will feature the "Dakotas over Normandy" event with supposedly up to 40 C-47s/DC-3. Most will fly in formation across the English channel on June 5th, dropping jumpers in Normandy (I will be one of them). Then they will continue to do formation flights through the weekend. The biggest parachuting event will be the annual large Sunday drop (June 9th) over the La Fiére Causeway West of Sainte-Mère-Église. Huge contingents of reenactors and current military will drop throughout the day there, and there will be a ceremony afterwards at the "Iron Mike" monument. Get there early...
Hi, Pharmer Phil: Wow! The June 5th Group Flyover sounds amazing - to get 40 of those big airships over Normandy would really give a 25 year old kid a sense of the overwhelming scale of the real D-Day! Not much chance I'll still be there on the 9th, but it all depends on this and that and the other thing. I am glad to get confirmation about the need to act about a year in advance to get lodgings in Normandy - some folks over here thought I was crazy. I'll certainly have the rooms booked with a few days. Thanks again!
My kid is not 25, by the way. He will definitely be 15 next June. Typo, my bad.
We were just in Normandy last Wednesday, on June 6th, during the 74th anniversary. We were able to access both Utah and Omaha Beaches.