The Normandy landings on 5 beaches, it is a front of a hundred kilometres going roughly from Cabourg in Calvados to Quineville in the Manche. But it is also an area of nearly 70 km inland which served as a framework for the Battle of Normandy. Today, it is a multitude of places full of history that can serve as a theme for your next holiday in Normandy. Indeed, why not use one of the Normandy campsites located near the D-Day beaches as a base camp to explore the region and leaf through the pages of this great history book one by one and follow in the footsteps of the heroes of June 1944. Here are some of them.
Colleville American Cemetery
It is certainly a place of memory, the mere mention of which is enough to give chills to those who have already visited it. Indeed, few places linked to the D-Day landings give such an impression of being "inhabited" and for good reason. These 70 hectares donated to the United States by France are American territory. On perfect lawns, dotted with trees, nearly 10,000 graves are lined up. Most are topped with a marble cross, others with a cross of David in the same stone and a handful with a crescent. It overlooks Omaha Beach, which can be reached by stairs. Try it out. Wait for low tide, walk down to the beach and go to the water's edge. Turn around, run back up the beach (over 500m) and think of the American soldiers who landed. Since 2007, the Normandy American Cemetery Center, an amazing museum that tells the story of the D-Day landings from the point of view of those who did it, has been open in the cemetery. On your way out, stop for an hour or two at the Overlord Museum just outside the cemetery.
In this small seaside town, the D-Day landings left very visible traces, starting with the "Mulberries". These are the elements that made up one of the two artificial harbours (the other was installed in front of Omaha Beach and was destroyed by a storm) that enabled the Allies to supply their troops after the landing. In addition, on the heights of the town, "Arromanches 360" was built. This cinema of a special kind allows high definition films to be shown on 9 screens simultaneously. Surrounded by images and sounds, you will sometimes have the impression of having gone through the looking glass to change from being a simple spectator to an actor.
Memorial Pegasus Bridge
We all know this bridge over the Orne at Bénouville, it was made famous all over the world by the film "The Longest Day". During the night of 5-6 June 1944, 180 soldiers of the British Oxs and Bucks Regiment, commanded by Major John Howard, landed in gliders and took control of the bridge in less than 10 minutes. The next day, at about noon, Lord Howat's Green Berets, comprising the 177 men of the Kieffer Commando, and preceded by piper Bill Millin, arrived as reinforcements. The bridge was named Pegasus Bridge after the badge the British commandos wore on their sleeve. In 1994 it was replaced by a larger copy for display in the Memorial Pegasus Bridge Park. It is next to a copy of the Horsa glider.
The Caen Memorial
Like the American cemetery in Colleville, the Caen Memorial is one of the must-see places on your D-Day tour. And if you want to go even further, our advice is to start with it. Indeed, it offers you a journey through the history of the 20th Century, allowing you to understand, for example, to what extent the Versailles agreements of 1919 carried the seeds of the Second World War, making it inevitable. An exceptional display of thousands of documents, remarkable films, permanent and non permanent thematic exhibitions make this museum one of the best of its kind
If these high places are enough to make you relive what was one of the most extraordinary periods of our history, Normandy conceals a multitude of others such as the Utah Beach Museum installed under a huge glass roof, the Juno Beach Centre which looks like a "Guggenheim Museum", the British military cemetery of Bayeux which gathers nearly 5000 soldiers of the Commonwealth who died during the Battle of Normandy or the Airborn Museum of Sainte Mère l'Eglise which celebrates the thousands of soldiers who parachuted over Normandy. Moreover, as if to prove the importance of the landings, few villages in Normandy have not offered themselves a small museum. To find out more and prepare your tour, call the tourist offices or go to this site.