Welcome to Ouistreham, where peace reigns on historic beaches
Ouistreham as a resort destination? It might not be your first thought as you jockey for pole position at disembarkation. But if you’ve glimpsed the majestic Plage de Riva-Bella as you slide into the ferry port, you could be tempted.
Three miles of fine sand stretch West along the Côte Fleurie. There’s plentiful parking, safe, clean water and a promenade fringed with pastel-coloured beach huts. Right on the sand, there’s a tourist office where helpful, bilingual staff distribute maps, leaflets and advice.
Must-sees include Le Grand Bunker Musée du Mur de l’Atlantique and the Musée de no 4 Commando which, together, tell the story of the town’s liberation in June, 1944. From there it’s a stone’s throw to Sword Beach, the first of five used to land Allied soldiers on D-Day and a peaceful spot to reflect on the sacrifices made here.
For the adrenaline junkies there’s sand yachting, sailing, sea kayaking and horse riding. Gentler pursuits include miniature golf and bike rides to historic Caen along the canal next to the River Orne.
Or simply join locals digging for shellfish when the tide goes out...sometimes up to a mile. In town, the decorations on Église Saint-Samson indicate how prosperous a port Ouistreham was during the Middle Ages, while stained glass windows commemorate D-Day.
And if you’ve worked up an appetite remember, Ouistreham is said to derive its name from ancient words for oyster and village. So try some local specialities at the restaurants and cafés. Bon appétit!