Commemorate D-Day Where it All Began
What is D-day?
On June 6, 1944, nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline to fight Nazi Germany. The cost was high, with more than 9,000 soldiers wounded or killed. By day’s end, the Allies gained a foothold in Normandy, and more than 100,000 soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler and eventually win the war. This short description clearly cannot do justice to the sacrifice of these brave young men.
To see where this act of courage took place nearly 70 years ago is for many, a dream fulfilled. Getting here is easy, thanks to France’s highly developed railway network, and is a very doable day trip from Paris.
Visit Normandy for D-day celebrations
The beaches of Normandy will commemorate this 68th anniversary with a full slate of events from June 1-June 8, including:
- Reconstruction of US military camps in Sainte Mère Eglise and Sainte Marie du Mont Utah Beach
- Reconstruction of the advance of 101 Airborne – participants in uniform set off at 9h00 in military vehicles
- Parachute jump over marais de La Fière
- Photo exhibition “Our Dear Deceased US Veterans” in Amfreville, Salle des fêtes
- “The Longest Night”: On the 50th anniversary of the film “The Longest Day.” Meetings with local extras of the shooting of the movie in Ste Mère Eglise and in other places.
Traveling by Train from Paris to the D-Day Beaches
You can either travel into Caen or Bayeux. Both cities are also within easy reach of each other, and each offers its own historical bounty. From Paris (St. Lazare train station) to Caen is 1hour, 47minutes, and Bayeux is 2 hours, 4 minutes on board the Intercities trains.
Travel to Caen with a France Rail Pass:
The train from Paris to Caen doesn’t require you to have a reservation. If you are traveling with a pass, you can simply hop on at no extra charge. However, reservations are possible, and you might want to consider purchasing one if you are traveling in high season for added peace of mind. If you are traveling with tickets, a reservation will automatically be included for your convenience. A reservation can be booked for your trip from Paris to Caen prior to your trip for a cost of $11.
Travel to Caen with a Single Ticket:
A single ticket from Paris to Caen costs $47 for Economy and $70 for a Comfort fare. There is approximately one train per hour running from 7 am in the morning until 8 pm at night.
To the Allied Beaches Memorial Museum in Caen:
If your plans include a visit to the Allied beaches, Memorial Museum or you plan to rent a car and explore on your own then you’ll want to select Caen as your destination.
The award-winning Caen Memorial Museum is regarded as the best World War II museum in France and only 15 minutes away from the D-Day beaches. Thanks to this proximity, the museum runs guided tours. Also on display are exhibits of other failures and triumphs of peace, such as the Berlin Wall and was the first museum outside of the United States to display artifacts from 9/11.
Travel to Bayeux from Paris with a France Rail Pass:
The trip from Paris to Bayeux is an open ticket, but reservations are recommended due to the popularity of this destination. A reservation costs $11 one-way and there is a train approximately every two hours starting from 7 am to 7 pm.
Travel to Bayeux from Paris with a Single Rail Ticket:
A single ticket costs $52 in Economy and $77 in Comfort class. There are trains approximately every hour and the trains times start from 7 am to 6 pm traveling out to Bayeux.
The Beauty of Bayeux
It was here, in 1944, that General Charles de Gaulle made his first major speech in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies. The buildings in Bayeux were virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, sparing the city’s architectural gems, notably the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. The church is a national monument of France, consecrated in 1077.
The Cathedral was also the original home of the famed Bayeux Tapestries. Woven in 1066 by Reine Mathilde, wife of William the Conqueror to commemorate events in the Norman Conquest of England, it is one of the world’s oldest tapestries still intact. It’s such a tourist attraction, that Bayeux created a museum just for this one incredible piece of art – the Musée de la Tapisserie.
Whether in Paris on June 6 or visiting at another time, the beaches of Normandy are a day trip not to be missed. Its history has shaped our future, and for that, we are ever grateful.