Ouistreham Things to Do
Museum of No 4 Commando
This Museum tells the story of the French Green Berets under Commandant Phillipe Kieffer and their part in the Liberation of France.
Kieffer joined the French Navy soon after the outbreak of WW2, After the fall of France he responded to General de Gaulle's call and went to England to join the Free French Naval Forces.
A natural French and English speaker he was initially used as a translator and became aware of the recently formed British Commandos. He requested permission to form and train a group of of French commandos.
Authority was given by a senior French Naval Officer and the unit were sent to the Commando Training Camp at Achnacarry in the Scottish Highlands near Fort William. And thus was born the a Unit of Marine Rifleman Commandos.
They were first engaged in the Dieppe Raid of 1942 and subsequently, as the French Commando had been enlarged and strengthened, in night raids in France and the Netherlands during the preparations for the invasion.
When Jun 6th 1944 came 177 men of "1st Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins Commandos" became part of British No.4 Commando and took part in the Allied invasion.
Phillipe Kieffer was given the honour of being the first French serving officer to step onto French soil.
Sword Beach - The Liberation Monument...
On our 2013 visit as I looked from the window of our hotel room I saw across Boulevard Aristide Briand a memorial site. After a long journey I felt like a walk so set off alone in bright sunshine to explore.
The path around the Hotel Riva Bella led to the beach where there was a “Narrow walk” rather than a Broadwalk - very welcome though, as I was not wearing sand shoes.
(Anyone who has seen the Hollywood film “The Longest Day” may remember the scene in which the occupied, heavily defended Casino was a main objective of the Commando raid on Ouistreham on June 6th1944.
For the 1962 film it was “reconstructed” in another small harbour to the west.)
To reach the Monument I climbed a few wooden steps built into in the dunes and there, on a plateau, was the main steel structure mounted on a small dome resembling a gun emplacement, shining like a bright, turning sword in the last of the sunshine.
Close by was a statue of Commander Kieffer who led the French contingent of this Anglo-Brittanique assault, and in the grassy slope, a memorial garden to the French Commandos who fell here.
I found it a very moving scene and I would have lingered but as I turned to look out to sea I realised the rapidly darkening sky meant a massive rainstorm was heading towards me - and made a quick dash back to the hotel.
June 3rd 2015
This time I had more time to look around and John came with me. We discovered that the Memorial Sword or Flame as some also call it, was the work of Yvonne Guégan completed in 2004 for the 70th anniversary of the Landings . Inscribed in the steel are the names of the 177 Free French forces who landed here.
Gardeners were busy tending the small garden - all beautifully kept and as we looked around there was the Villa Andry now an hotel but in 1944 a private residence which became the first building in Ouistreham to be Liberated.
D-Day Beach – Sword
Assault time 07:25
The day went well for the British with twenty one of the twenty five DD Tanks making it ashore. Amongst the types of tanks that landed here was what was called “Funnies”. These consisted of modified tanks which helped clear the beach.
8th Infantry Brigade Group
13th/18th Hussars DD Tanks
1st South Lancashire Regiment
2nd East Yorkshie Regiment
Objective of the Day
The objective of the day was to secure the area and relive the 6th Airborne Division at Pegasus Bridge, before the German Panzar Divison counterattacked. No 4 Commando to clear east to Ouistreham and the No 41 Royal Marine Commando to clear west and meet up with the Canadians at Langrune. One of its more ambitious aims was to capture Caen.Related to:
- Historical Travel
68 Rue Emile Herbline, Ouistreham, 14150, France
Good for: Business
Avenue du Commandant Kieffer, Ouistreham, 14150, France
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
37 Rue Des Dunes, Ouistreham 14150
Good for: Families
We have stayed in the hotel a couple of times, the last being in 2013. It is in a good position, was...more
A converted into a hotel from two adjoining houses, three stories high, normandien in architecture,...more
74 avenue de la Mer, Ouistreham, 14150, France
Good for: Solo
71 Avenue Michel Cabieu, Ouistreham, 14150, France
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
La Belle Iloise: Excellent fish conserves
La Belle Iloise is a fish canning place in Honfleur but they have shops all over Normandie.
This is true local stuff and does not come cheap but the products are of high quality and the choice is staggering.
Dozens of variations of sardines, tuna or other fish/shellfish in a can.
Note. you cannot just buy a can as everything comes in packs of at least 3.
What to buy: Anything!
They have wonderful gift basquets if you want a nicely presentedselection.
What to pay: It's expensive. For example a pack of 6 small tuna cans (with tomato, with peppers etc.) was 13 eurosRelated to:
- Food and Dining
Ouistreham Off The Beaten Path
The Baudelaire House
We had left our holiday rental early and, with plenty of time to spare, were making our way towards Ouistreham for the 2 p.m. ferry to Portsmouth.
Between Lion-sur- Mer and Colleville - Montgomery on the D 514 we spotted on our left an astonishing house.
It was not a convenient spot to make a sudden stop so we carried on and took the next left turn - in fact we went “round the block” and turned left again via a short unmade, rough road called rue de Georges Lelong back up to the main road where we were able to park.
We were intrigued by the house that occupies a large corner site, well sheltered by trees and shrubbery but faces the main road. We could not see any name or number on the house but were fascinated by both its ornate design and decoration.
We thought it unoccupied but certainly not abandoned - the wall to the right had scaffolding reaching up into the eaves but no sign of workmen that Wednesday morning.
Architecturally the design reflected the classic Normandy style of the Region but owed something to fantasy not far removed from Disney overlaid with a touch of decadence..
Turning to the inscribed decoration on the façade we discovered extracts from the works of Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du Mal - one signed off with a dedication to Victor Hugo.
The upper part of the house - on the roof top, along its ridge and balconies there were numerous glazed ceramic figures both mythical and fantastical.
We have both tried hard to find more information about this amazing house but without success and would love to hear from anyone who has more information.
In the meantime we call it The Baudelaire House.