There we were, three generations, standing on the beach, looking at the waves, remembering the young men who lost their lives here.
We were in Normandy to spend some quality time as a family while learning a few things along the way.
And going away with your children and your parents can make for some special memories.
We had settled on Beny Bocage, in Vire in Lower Normandy and booked with Owners Direct – a website that allows holiday-home owners to list properties.
Our family is spread across the UK. Looking for something that suited all seven of us, we picked Ladybird Lodge from among the hundreds of properties on offer.
With my husband Mark, our children Amber and Jacob, my parents Elaine and Shaun and my father-in-law Byron, we sailed from Dover and enjoyed a stress-free crossing to Calais.
It was the first time two-year-old Jacob had been on a ferry and you can imagine his delight as he looked out to sea.
Our holiday home was a good four-hour drive from Calais. As it was my first time driving in France I was glad to have the satnav in my Vauxhall Tourer.
It was a seven-seater – ideal as it meant we could all travel together. I just had to keep my eye on the speed and have plenty of euros for toll roads.
Our first stop was the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, home to the amazing 11th-century embroidery that depicts the Norman conquest.
This unique piece of history is nearly 70 metres long. I put it into perspective for nine-year-old Amber when I told her to think how long it takes me to sew on one of her Brownie badges – then imagine the days this must have taken.
My husband and I are particularly interested in Second World War history so we were keen to visit the places we had read about.
As well as being home to the tapestry, Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated from German occupation – on June 7 1944.
We took two hours to walk around the Musée Mémorial de La Bataille de Normandie. The museum retraces the military and human story of the Battle of Normandy, which lasted for nearly three months after the D-Day landing of June 6 1944. In nearby Cherbourg, the Cité de la Mer maritime museum has the largest submarine in the world that is open to the public.
Listening to its history on an audio guide, we entered the nuclear-powered sub Redoutable – the jewel of the French Navy after it was commisioned in 1971.
Be aware small children are not allowed in as there are too many places for them to get stuck.
Walking around the engine rooms and cramped sleeping areas packed with bunks you really get a feel for what life would have been like for the 135-man crew.
The museum houses several exhibitions and has a brilliant Titanic section. The liner called at Cherbourg on its maiden voyage in 1912 before sailing to its doom.
But the best of the bunch had to be the Musée du Débarquement (D-Day museum) at Arromanches – the first to be built in commemoration of the 1944 Normandy campaign.
It overlooks one of the remaining Mulberry harbours that were used by the Allies for landing troops and supplies. A five-minute drive away is Batterie de Longues-sur-Mer.
This is the only battery to have retained its original guns and is very eerie. From here you get a panoramic view over the landing beaches.
It is inappropriate to take buckets and spades on to these sands. But we did find a great beach at Saint-Pair-sur-Mer, south of Granville, where the kids played and looked for crabs in rock pools.
The trip was really educational and made Amber keen to find out more about the war. Normandy has so much history. How much better it was to see the places rather than reading about them in a book.
Ladybird Lodge was a lovely place to stay and was big enough to accommodate all seven of us.
Amber and Jacob loved feeding the donkeys at our holiday home.
FACTFILE: Ladybird Lodge sleeps up to nine and costs from £695pw. See www.ownersdirect.co.uk. Ref:FR7368. DFDS Seaways sails up to 20 times a day between Dover and Calais. The crossing lasts 90 minutes and prices start from £29 each way for a car and up to four people. See www.dfds.co.uk to book.
- Have all the items French law may require in your car – hi-vis jacket for each person, anti-dazzle stickers for the headlights and two breathalysers.
- Make sure you have plenty of euros for the toll roads.
- USE a satnav with European maps but turn off the speed camera alert. You can be fined for having it on.
- Get European breakdown cover.