Updated on 18 December 2020
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A cruise destination with a difference
How so? Well, when you approach the coast of Caen, you are right there, with the D-Day Landing Beaches or “Mother-of-Pearl Coast” to one side, the “Flowered Coast” on the other, and then you cut into the Orne valley for an unusual inland cruise: you are already in the heart of Normandy!
The port of Ouistreham-Riva-Bella is a seaside resort serving the City of William the Conqueror. Here a tide-free canal, with only the one lock to secure its level for the 90-minute 10-mile cruise to Caen takes you along the verdant valley of the Orne. The historic Pegasus Bridge, the first place to be liberated on D-Day, lifts to the vertical and salutes you as you glide by: and may your great ship blast its horn by way of celebration!! Then past the fine eighteenth century château of Bénouville and the wooded grounds and park of the château de Beauregard on your way right into the city. You will dock only a 20-minute walk from the medieval city.
Reminding you of its history overlooking your docked ship are the Norman towers of the so-called “Ladies’ Abbey” where William the Conqueror’s Queen, Mathilda is buried. He (and she) founded the city, now you discover it! Down the gangway and walk in! There is the Conqueror’s own Abbey, the “Men’s Abbey”, as well as his great castle!
But perhaps the shops and restaurants are your thing? It has a bustling city centre with so much to offer. If it’s a tour you’re after, being centrally placed the road and rail network reaches out to all the best sites: Bayeux and Mont-Saint-Michel, the cattle country of the Pays d’Auge or the glories of the Suisse Normande. And of course the D-Day and Battle of Normandy sites are ever present, not forgetting the world-famous Memorial de Caen.
This smooth and settled approach is perfect for your passengers and for your ship. There are two bespoke quaysides dedicated to handling big cruise ships. In the Nouveau Bassin the quai Gaston Lamy receives ships up to 145 metres long and 24 metres wide, while the Calix quay welcomes ships up to 165 metres. These are secured areas, both conforming to ISPS rules, and tailor-made receptions can be organised in safety ex-quay.