My D-Day in Caen was drawing to an end. From journeying in from Ouistreham Port to walking tours and watching the commemoration ceremony, it had been a long day.
At times during the day, the tone was sombre and reflective, and rightly so. The gravity of the D-Day campaign had not been forgotten but by night the city came alive as young and old gathered to celebrate liberty in Caen and across the region.
Celebrating the victory and freedom
Bars, restaurants, shops and houses on every thoroughfare were draped in the red, white, and blue of the victorious nations. With all respect paid to those who fought and died in 1944, Caen was ready to enjoy that hard fought freedom. Live music blasted out from every nightspot. Old time swing and jazz numbers by the likes of Glen Miller echoed through the streets. Contemporary bands lent their own unique takes to the old favourites. A one-off D-Day beer had been brewed and was being served to locals, tourists and veterans in bars across the city.
Here's to the Rifles
With many people reminiscing about the role of the Royal Ulster Rifles, I had chosen an Irish bar as my home from home. O’Donnell’s Irish Pub on Quai Vendeuvre had wholly embraced 1944.
The staff had dressed in khaki uniform with slick 40s hair to go with their usual slick and friendly service. A D-Day Quintet played out the big band hits of the era and the dancefloor filled. Veterans from the Marines, currently serving paratroopers, tourists, families, locals, and history bloggers together. A group united and enjoying the peaceful times we live in.
This post makes up part of our travel diary from the 70th-anniversary of D-Day in Normandy 2014.