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Beyond the landing beaches: the inevitable Normandy

The largest invasion of sea basins ever seen began early in the morning of June 6, 1944, from the troubled waters of the windswept shores of German Normandy. Marked by the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France in 2019 and the commemorative events and exhibits that took place throughout the year, there has never been a more revealing time to visit.

This road trip includes the remarkable sites that witnessed the wildest and most courageous battles that are today marked by poignant monuments.

Caen

Operation Neptune (D-Day), which took place in secret, first reached French soil before two million Allied soldiers landed in France in August 1944. Heavily devastated during the Battle of Normandy, the beautiful and often impressive city of Caen is your starting point, especially the Caen Memorial which shows how the Second World War shook this French region. Do not miss the thrilling film or captivating images of the Nuremberg Trials and walk the 70-meter long underground bunker by General Richter on the spot.

Juno Beach

From Caen, take the D79 to Courseulles-sur-Mer to Juno Beach to explore the serene sand dunes stormed by the Canadian army on D-Day. The hotel’s Juno Beach Center recalls the sacrifice bloody and expensive Canada. A summer visit connects you to one of the guided tours of the center, which also reaches the German bunker. On the way to Juno Beach, you must make a detour to the Dover-La-Délivrande Radar Museum (1944) to observe the role of technology in a Würzburg radar antenna on one of the most important radio stations in the world. Normandy.

Arromanches-les-Bains and mulberry harbors

Drive west along the D514 to Gold Beach – attacked by the 50th British Infantry Regiment on D-Day – to Arromanches-les-Bains, which may have been the most ambitious achievement of the attack. The D-Day Landing Museum, which was scheduled to reopen in 2019 on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, describes the construction of artificial harbors at Mulberry Harbor (temporary ports for the unloading of cargo essential to invasion). Arromanche’s 360 ° Cinema Cinema is a very informative introduction to this important company. Try to visit at low tide when the remains of mulberry harbors are visible above the waterline.

Longues-sur-Mer Battery

From Arromanches-les-Bains, continue on the D514 to Longues-sur-Mer, where a powerful 150 mm German artillery battery is still visible on the sea, forming part of the powerful Atlantic coastal defenses. Take the time to examine the positions of the firearms (the first bunker is fenced because it has been damaged but the others are accessible).

Bayeux

From Longues-sur-Mer take the D104 southbound towards Bayeux; At the junction with the D613 on the outskirts, turn right and follow the signs to the Museum of the Battle of Normandy and Bayeux War Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the Commonwealth in Normandy, where 4,848 British and 10 other countries. On the other side of the road is a memorial to 1,807 Commonwealth soldiers whose remains have never been found. Bayeux is perhaps the most famous for its beautiful tapestry depicting the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, but the historic city was the first city to be liberated in the early hours of June 7, 1944.

Omaha Beach and the Normandy Cemetery and Memorial

From Bayeux, take the D6 northbound towards Port-en-Bessin, turn left on the D514 towards Colleville-sur-Mer and follow the signs for the magnificent Overlord Museum – Chronicles from the Battle of the D-Day to the liberation of Paris – then embark on the American cemetery and the memorial in Normandy. The most impressive view of D-Day on the Normandy coast, the endless crosses of white marble and the cemetery of the Star of David are impressive. Nearly 70 acres, the huge property is the proof of the Battle of Omaha Beach below. A final resting place for nearly 9,400 Americans killed during the Second World War, the cemetery also houses the foregrounds of the horrific drama of the Second World War entitled “Saving Private Ryan”.

An important semicircular colonnade monument focuses on a bronze statue: the spirit of American youth emerges waves. On the site is also a time capsule with the news of the D-Day landings installed under a granite slab with the instructions “Open June 6, 2044”. Do not miss the visitor center, which tracks the landings dramatically, while the English tours explore the cemetery’s premises every day at 2:00 pm (and between mid-April and mid-September at 11:00 am). Omaha Beach is home to some German bunkers as well as remnants of Mulberry Harbor that can be seen at low tide.
Pointe du Hoc leads through Omaha Beach and Utah Beach © pisaphotography / Shutterstock

The Pointe du Hoc

Drive 10 miles west on the D514 to this promontory, the highest point between Omaha Beach in the east and Utah Beach in the west, fortified by the Germans with 155 mm artillery pieces. The artillery required a handicap and La Pointe du Hoc was the scene of a daring attack in the early hours of June 6, 1944, when 225 US Army Rangers climbed the dangerously steep cliffs 30 meters high. After the conquest of the area, the soldiers discovered that the guns had been moved inland. They decided to find them and put them out of use while resisting enemy counter-attacks. When the troop was released on June 8, only about 90 men survived. Bunkers and bunkers with battles and a dagger-shaped monument recall the heroic attack; An informative visitor center is also located on the premises.

Utah Beach

Head west on the D514 to reach the N13, then head northeast on the D913 to complete your trip to Utah Beach, 45 km from La Pointe du Hoc. This stretch of sand was attacked by the 4th US Infantry Division at the most westerly landing site on D-Day, with minor resistance, an amphibious attack recorded in the absorbing beach of the D-Day Museum.

Visit the main sites of the Second World War in Normandy by minibus
A variety of minibus tours crisscross Normandy to the D-Day attractions, providing an excellent opportunity to visit Lassoen’s main attractions. The Caen Memorial The Caen Memorial offers excellent tours throughout the year. It offers many attractions and a visit to the museum of Caen. Normandy Sightseeing Tours is an efficient hotel in Bayeux.

Or sleep?

Château de la Ferrière is a fantastic 18th century castle located on a beautiful area between Bayeux and the coast.

The Family House is a large and historical B & B in Caen.

Where should we eat?

Alchemy serves modern French cuisine superbly presented in Bayeux.

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