We celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings on June 6, 1944. 70 years of memories rooted in the landscapes of the region: old guns, bunkers and war memorials. Three departments (the Cavaldos, the Manche and the Orne) bring together a large number of museums and places of remembrance in homage to D-Day and the following months. There is no compulsory tour to visit the Normandy coast, but a selection of sites not to be missed.
The landing museum in Arromanches
The first museum built in commemoration of June 6, 1944 and the Battle of Normandy, the Landing Museum of Arromanches (Calvados) recounts the events that took place during the night of June 5 to 6, 1944. Inaugurated on 5 June 1954, it now welcomes more than 300,000 visitors each year. On entering, you can discover films retracing the history, models, period objects … On leaving the museum, along the shore, you come across the remains of the artificial harbour and its Phoenix caissons.
Also to be seen:
The Liberators Museum, located in Arromanches-les-bains, is dedicated to the memory of World War II veterans. Opened in 2012, this small museum offers an exhibition of 3,000 collection items, from uniforms to everyday objects, most of which are donations from veterans.
The Caen Memorial
Nicknamed the “Museum for Peace”, the Caen Memorial is divided into several themes around the history of the 20th century and its wars. The city of Caen (Calvados) was the target of many bombings during the Second World War. Inaugurated in 1988, part of the museum is dedicated to the Landing and the Battle of Normandy, including a visit to an authentic bunker in the underground of the Memorial. Welcoming nearly 400,000 curious visitors a year, it is one of the most visited museums outside the Ile de France.
Also worth seeing:
The Pegagus Memorial, erected at Ranville near Caen, is dedicated to the British airborne soldiers who fought during the Battle of Normandy. The museum was inaugurated by Prince Charles in June 2000.
La Pointe du Hoc
This advance of the Normandy coast was the scene of one of the Landing operations. Located between the beaches of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, the point was under German domination. Fortified by the Germans and equipped with heavy artillery, the place was stormed on the morning of June 6, 1944 by 225 American Rangers. Visitors can walk freely between the remains of the command post and the bunkers.
Also worth seeing:
The German battery of Longues-sur-Mer is located in the centre of the Landing Beaches between Omaha and Gold Beach. The battery was the target of numerous aerial and then naval bombardments before D-Day. But the site is still very well preserved today.
The American cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer
“The Normandy American Cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach, one of the five Landing Beaches. From the top of its cliff, the cemetery is a true “piece of the United States in France”. Inaugurated in 1956, the site includes a large Memorial, and in its extension 9,386 American soldiers, including 4 women, are buried there. The cemetery is a reminder of the sacrifices of the American Military Forces and its major role in the Liberation.
To see also :
The Omaha Beach Memorial Museum, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, was built on the very spot where the events took place. It tells the story of the landing of the Americans on Omaha and the Pointe du Hoc. It contains an important collection of weapons and materials found on Omaha Beach, as well as archival films and photos of American veterans.
Airborne Museum at Sainte-Mère-Eglise
The first liberated city, Sainte-Mère-Eglise is located near Utah Beach. The city, which made a point of paying homage to its liberators, erected the Airborne Museum in 1964, in the heart of the town. This memorial site contains moving testimonials of the fighting, as well as documents and equipment donated by veterans and their families. It opens its doors each year to more than 180,000 visitors.
Utah Beach Landing Museum in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
Like the centers of Gold Beach and Juno Beach, the Utah Beach Museum was built on the very spot where American troops landed on June 6, 1994. Established in 1962, the museum receives approximately 120,000 visits per year. It details the events of D-Day through a large collection of objects, vehicles, testimonials and a film. The B26 bomber is a key piece of the exhibition.