Chances are if you are planning a trip to Normandy in France then the quaint fishing town of Port en Bessin will be on your radar. This area is well-known for the drama that unfolded on D-Day on 6th June 1945. It is hard to imagine now in such picturesque and peaceful surroundings the horrendous scenes that unfolded that day, not just in Port en Bessin but all along this coast. In short the town had been under German control for four years, it took 47 Royal Marines Commando two days to regain the town in what was a dramatic battle resulting in a huge loss of life. You can’t go far here without stumbling across a piece of history be it the Mulberry Harbours sitting out at sea or the bunkers along the clifftop; all are stark reminders of the past. I am ashamed to say I had very little knowledge of what happened during D-Day so found the small snippets of information and memorials to 47 Commando dotted around the town really interesting. I found a great article from the Telegraph all about the history of Port en Bessin too. This little town is not only about the war it has a huge fishing industry, a daily fish market on the quayside is the best place to pick up some fresh fish and the many restaurants serving locally caught fish are a must visit. L’Ecailler was my favourite, I loved the choice of set menus, the sashimi I had to start was to die for! There are plenty of scenic strolls around the harbour walls, up along the clifftops and to the west a lovely viewpoint looking down on the harbour from the Marines memorial. For breakfast, coffee and afternoon drinks Cafe du Port right on the harbour front was a firm favourite, always bustling with locals it was so nice to sit outside and watch the world go by. On Sundays the streets are lined with a farmers market and look out for the beach covered in scallop shells, I have never seen anything like it. Leaving Port en Bessin behind there are some fantastic beaches on this coastline, when the tide is out Omaha Beach has miles of golden sand to explore and the nearby seaside town of Arromanches is another nice spot. My favourite place for ice cream in the sunshine was Courseulles-sur-Mer. Inland, Bayeux is a must visit, gourgoues buildings and architecture, bakeries full of artisan bread, the very impressive Notre Dame Cathedral and the Bayeux Tapestry. A drive along the country lanes reveals old stone buildings, rolling fields and cider farms. Normandy is the perfect place for a weekend break or even longer and is so easy reach from the UK.
Getting there: Getting to Normandy from the UK is very straightforward, Matt and I went with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Caen. Living in Chichester meant an easy 20 minute drive to the ferry terminal, it was a nice alternative from flying and very easy to simply pack up the car and not have to worry about weight limits on baggage, especially with a baby in the mix! The crossing is six hours, we added a cabin onto our reservation which was really useful for when Emily needed a nap.
Where to stay: We stayed at La Mer est Belle, a gorgeous three storey house right on the harbour in Port en Bessin. A stylish beachy chic interior and a sea view out of every window made it the perfect place to stay for the week. The kitchen was so well equipped along with three bedrooms and four bathrooms meant there was plenty of room for four adults and two babies to spread out in.