The D-Day Landing Beaches in Normandy were the setting for Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944. It was a battleground and a place of slaughter. Today they are a place to enjoy, including with your dog. This is no more than what the veterans wanted and fought for – enjoying in freedom what had been taken away in 1940. Here are some guidelines…  

1.

Utah Beach

The only D-Day Landing Beach in the Manche département, its role was to cut off and capture Cherbourg. 23,250 men of the US 4th Division landed in relative safety. Concrete remains can be observed at low tide, and shells (there are mussel and oyster beds!). The long fine sandy beach in the commune of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont was once called ‘la Madeleine’ after the chapel there. Dogs can roam freely.

2.

Omaha Beach 

32,750 men of the 1st and 29th Divisions landed at ‘Bloody Omaha’, taking heavy casualties – at the western end at Vierville in particular. Omaha Beach is arguably the most dog-friendly of all the D-Day Landing Beaches, and the D-Day Omaha Beach welcomes dogs. Interestingly, military planners code-named part of Omaha Beach ‘Dog’, and the motto of the Rangers who scaled the cliffs at the Pointe du Hoc is ‘Lead the Way’. There is also a short cove bound by rocky cliffs. However, take care as this pebbly beach is small, there is rockfall, an offshore reef, and the tide can cut off your dog, so keep it on a lead here. N.B. There is also the occasional… nudist.

3.

Gold Beach 

Between Asnelles and Ver-sur-Mer 25,000 British soldiers of the 50th Northumbrian Division landed with light casualties. Gold Beach is one of the most popular and unspoilt beaches in Calvados and has a wonderful view west towards the remains of the Mulberry harbour just off the coast of Arromanches. The beach at Saint-Côme-du-Fresné is also pleasant and the high ground there is great for walking the dog. The Gold Beach/America Museum in Ver-sur-Mer also welcomes dogs. Lastly, in Longues-sur-Mer, also in the Gold Beach sector, is a huge German gun battery, with walks down to a large bunker that once formed part of the Atlantic Wall.

4.

Juno Beach

15,000 men of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division with 2nd Armoured landed along a five-mile wide sector known as Juno Beach, straddling Courseulles-sur-Mer with Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer on one side, and Graye to the west. There were heavy casualties. Their objective: Caen and its airfield at Carpiquet. Dogs should be kept on a lead here between 1 July and 30 September, but can roam free on the beach in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer all year round.

5.

Sword Beach 

The easternmost of the D-Day Landing Beaches saw 21,400 men of the British 3rd Infantry Division land six kilometres east of the Canadians, between Lion-sur-Mer and the western part of Ouistreham (Riva-Bella). Their objective was to secure the bridges in the Orne valley and capture Caen. Dogs are welcome at the eastern end of the beach in Luc-sur-Mer, as well as at the eastern end of the beach in Ouistreham, between the casino and the ferry port.

Display map

Useful information

Don’t hesitate to contact your local tourist office for guidelines on where dogs are welcome, and remember to bring those doggy bags with you everywhere you go! You might also like to read a new book that’s just come out called ‘D-Day Dog’ by Tom Palmer to learn about the important role our canine friends played on D-Day.

Cotentin Tourist Office

Isigny Omaha Tourist Office

Bayeux Bessin Tourist Office

Terres de Nacre Tourist Office

Caen la Mer Tourist Office