Longues-sur-Mer Things to Do
This German artillery battery, with its huge guns still in place, is a very interesting place to visit.
I think that it's one of the best places in Normandy to see guns in their authentic settings. It may not be as historical as Pointe du Hoc, but there are no guns at Pointe du Hoc and here the site is free to enter and is usually quite quiet, especially early in the morning.
The D-Day mission of the 50th Northumbrian Division was to take this formidable gun battery, but it only surrendered on D-Day +1 to the 231st Brigade advancing from Arromanches.
It is the only artillery battery to have listed building status.
It was a key element in the Atlantic Wall and includes a range finding post which overlooks the beaches, and four casemates, each housing a 150-mm gun. It fired in excess of 115 shells and was silenced by the 6 inch guns of HMS Ajax who, from a range of some 7.5 miles away, replied with 114 rounds. The accuracy of the Ajax was incredible, and it's claimed that two of the four guns took direct hits, actually directly into the slits of the casemates.
All of the buildings are readily accessible and you can clamber in and around each gun.
You can also take a short walk out to the observation bunker, which was featured in the opening scenes of The Longest Day. Also you get a great view of the nearby remains of the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
It's free and quick to visit, but it deserves a stop and a moment of reflexion.
How many dramas are silenced in those bunkers? Those guns covered Omaha and Gold beach, and took a full day to be dominated.
Now the place has not been changed, seeming abandoned, but it is respected. Besides, someone must be taking care of it and providing organized visits.
But it's no need, unless you want to listen to the details of the bloody day.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
As a part of the Atlantic Wall the Nazi's built four 150 mm guns at Longues-sur-Mer. They recahed out over the Channel's water for 20 km and also threatened any invasion on the landing beaches of Gold and Omaha. To take them out, the allied bombercommand ordered a 1.000 tons of bombs thrown on them at the night before the invasion. However, without any effect. The guns opened fire on D-day and met in battle battlecruiser Arkansas, the ships Bulolo, cruiser Ajax and French ships Georges-Leygues and Montcalm. The Bulolo had to retire after being hit by the cannons, but in the evening of the 6th of June, the guns were definately silences by the naval artillery. On the 7th Birtish soldiers captured the remaining troops at the batteries.
The guns also were pictured in the film The Longest Day, where the Nazi officer looks over the sea and suddenly discovers the enormous invasion force approaching the Normandy beaches. Stand in one of the bunkers and relive this moment from the film.
Longues-sur-Mer Off The Beaten Path
Not due to war violence, but purely shaped by nature, one can amaze him/herself at Le Chaos (the Chaos). When many people return to the main road, some drive down to the beaches below the battery of Longues-sur-Mer and discover a rough landscape of swiftly eroding cliffs, leaving a rocky wild (and chaotic) landscape between the seawater and the land.
Longues-sur-Mer Sports & Outdoors
The cliffs and conditions around the shores of Longues-sur-Mer are excellent for paragliding and deltaflying. In the direct neighbourhood one can find some glider airfields where equipment or deltaplanes can be rented, however ... the price is relatively high as most people that enjoy this sport are the local French (tourist come here for the D-day history)
Favorite thing: One can easily see why the Nazi's picked this spot to situate defensive guns. Longues-sur-Mer is situated beautifully on to of the cliffs tha look out over The Channel and wide waving fields of corn are between the rough coastline and the village (one recognises it in the distance as for the church tower).
Fondest memory: It is hard to believe that extreme artillery bombing once raged these fields, as for they are so peaceful and silent these days. To my surprise I parked next to a remarkable beautiful oldtimer car. It seemed (later) that Le Mans just held it's classic car races that time and I had more of these wonderful encounters with classic automobiles.