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Portsmouth to Caen. Normandy visit.

My son and I are heading to London and then on to Portsmouth. We would like to take a ferry across the channel to see what our grandpa seen when he arrived in France on D-day. We are hoping to get some advice about transportation when we arrive in France. We plan to stay in the Normandy area for 2 days, then on to Paris. We are worried that we may be stranded in the Normandy area. I have been looking online but have not found anything. We plan on making the crossing on June 6. Any help would be very appreciated. Thank you.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
2328 posts

http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/ferry-routes/ferries-france/portsmouth-caen/timetable

Although I have not done this route, I understand that there is easy public transport from the harbour to the city of Caen, an interesting place on its own, or to Bayeux which is the base for most tours of the Normandy invasion beaches. A day tour is well worth the substantial cost, and not for the transport. The guide will provide context and information that only an historically versed freelancer can do alone. Both cities are on the same train line to Paris.

Portsmouth deserves a day on its own, especially the Royal Navy harbour. https://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/ It can be reached by train from London. http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
Or bus: www.nationalexpress.com

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
2856 posts

Been to Portsmouth a few times (my sister lives there so we have an obligatory visit when we go to Europe) and I'll second the Naval Shipyard. I'm not a huge fan generally, but we had a good time. I especially enjoyed the Mary Rose - which I think has been 'unveiled' since we went in 2015. It took us awhile to go because of cost (against our Canadian$, it was pretty high). I lucked into some discount tickets visiting their website (I think it was a weekend special)...so if you are interested, make sure to check the official site for discounts. My sister didn't have a printer and we didn't have a cell, so I just screen-shotted the email on my iDevice and that was fine.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
917 posts

We did this route a few years ago. We had aquacars.co.uk fetch us from Heathrow upon arrival or you can have them fetch you in London. Our cost back then was cheaper than two train tickets plus we were delivered to the front door of our hotel in Portsmouth. We spent two nights there with many naval displays to see, including HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship, still on the register in the British navy. The ferry was around 5-6 hours and we landed in Quistreham where there are buses waiting to take you to the Caen railroad station, traveling alongside the famous Caen canal and Pegasus Bridge, in the British sector on D Day. There are other ports besides Quistreham which may be more to your liking -- www.brittany-ferries.co.uk. At Caen we had a reserved rental car at one of the 3 or 4 rental agencies right across the street from the Caen railroad station and drove the 15 miles or so to Bayeux. We spent several days around Bayeux, then returned the car to Caen, and walked across the street and caught a train into Paris.

You do know that June 6 at the D Day beaches, or anywhere even close, is swamped, roads are packed, and hotels are booked up sometimes a year in advance. For trains, go to www.seat61.com. Good luck.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
7129 posts

I've mentioned this in a couple of other threads: I've twice had ferries to or from the Channel Islands canceled, apparently due to weather. They were large ships. I don't know whether the ferries between Portsmouth and France are more immune to such issues, but it would probably be a good idea to have a back-up plan in mind. The planned arrival night might not be the best time to plan on an especially nice hotel.

Posted by donk290 OP
7 posts

Thank you for the tips. These posts are extremely helpful for us as this will be our first time in Europe.