There is an 18 hole mini-golf course right next to the main carpark on sea front.
There did not appear to be much activity there during our mid-week in September visit but it was well laid out and there was a small cafe on the site.
I bet it was kept busy the weekend we left -when the Festival of Cidre & Dragon took place bringing more than 30,000visitors to the town!
The Museum on the site has been enlarged but works of renovation are still on going.
The first Bunker on the tour of the site that can be entered serves as a memorial to the 9th Parchute Battalion and contains many moving stories, told through original personal letters and official documents. A documentary film shares the reminiscences of survivors of the action and their Commanding Officer Lt. Colonel Otway. A "Wall of Honour" shows the photographs of all the men who died. Among them my husband was able to pick out the name of an old boy from his school who was honoured there too.
The last Bunker on the Tour is the one in which a "Sound & Light" event takes place. You will be aware of this as you move around the site as it occurs approximately every 20 minutes and considerable noise can be heard from inside the Bunker.
Here you can get some idea of what life was like for the German soldiers based at Merville Battery.
The Sound and Light experience is an attempt to show throught sounds, lights and smells what it must have been like for them at the end, when under bombardment from the British they maintained their positions, continuing to fire there great guns until they were forced to surrender.
A notice warns that persons of a nervous disposition should not attend the re-enactment.
The Merville Battery Site
The site is way marked and clearly sign posted with useful information boards placed all around.This German site was one of their biggest defences, erected as part of the Atlantic Wall . Located at the eastern end of the wall designed to protect the occupied teritory from Allied invasion.
If the Allied Landings planned for June 6th 1944 were to escape bombardment and achieve their objective it was crucial that this defensive post was put out of action.
In spite of careful preparations and training, adverse weather and navigational problems meant the plan got off to a bad start. Even before it started its main assault on the Batterie the Battalion suffered enormous losses of men and equipment. Out of 600 men only 150 were left to reassemble and under intense fire succeeded in clearing the way for the D- Day Landings on Sword beach .
The courage of those who continued the assault is unimagibable.
Post script. If you are interested in this part of WW" history and would like to know more about how a much flown D47 was rescued from the scrapyard at the end of its long, honourable and varied career, this link will tell you more about the campaign to restore it after it was retrieved, by gift, from the Government of Bosnia Herzogovinia. Dakota
Visit the weekly street market
Merville-Franceville is a small town and the Thursday morning market is quite small but sells a bit of almost everything from mattresses to handbags and lots of the excellent local produce - cider, cheeses and butter, fish and vegetables.
As always John made a bee-line for the well stocked cheese stall.
I was a few paces behind but noticed at once that the prices per kilo were enough to make you groan - too late - as I heard him ask for 200 gms each of the mature cantal and a local hard goat's cheese..
Both weighed more than requested.
I won't tell you what they cost, if I did you might understand why there was a rather frosty atmosphere between us for a little while!
This was the first time when buying at a French market I have ever felt we had been ripped off.
John is a fluent French speaker, I get by pretty well too, nevertheless - Caveat emptor!
Watch the weight and if it is over the requested amount, say it is too much and ask for less!
Place de la Plage
Immediately behind the Information Office there is a pleasant green area in the centre of the square. In the middle is a "kiosk" it looks to me like a small band stand. This one was erected to commerorate the centenary of Merville-France Ville Plage. The space is used for gatherings and celebrations and when we were there preparations were underway for the annual Festival de la Fantasy.
Across the square stands an imposing building, the local Logis de France - the Hotel Marion.
The Tourist Office
This has to be one of the prettiest located information offices I have seen !
Set in its own miniature park complete with a tiny pond and goldfish and surrounded by lovely planting arrangements .
An information board at the side of the pond provides information about the various plants and details of some of the birds and wild life to be seen in the area.
The information office itself is very well stocked with local onformation leaflets which cover all of Calvados and other parts of Normandie
Timetables for the local bus service - Bus Verts - are also available there . Just one member of staff when we were there - a helpful, smiling young woman.
Musée de la Batterie de Merville
This is a very fascinating place to visit. It is another in the many German artilerry batteries.
This one at Merville was a D-Day objective of the 9th Parachute Battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel Terence Otway. His plan to take the bunker was complex and involved a charge through the wire defences as three coup de main gliders landed inside the perimeter. Unfortunately the paratroopers drop was scattered and barely 25% of his force arrived, and also there was no sigh of the gliders. However, knowing the importance of his task he decided to get on with the job.
Many men on both sides were lost in this short and bloody scrap. There is a bust at the site in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel T Otway.
Unlike other batteries where you can clamber all over them, this has a strict path around it. This is designed to structure your visit, and it is also there to keep the place as a memorial to the men who died there.
There are four casemates, whose guns were aimed at Sword Beach. Each of these casemates tells a different part of the story of the battery.
Every half an hour in casemate 1 there is a powerful sight, sound and odour experience of what life would have been like under attack on the morning of 6th June 1944. There weren’t many people about we were there and so it was really quite an thought provoking experience.
Casemate 1 – Daily life in the Battery
Casemate 2 – Method of construction and camouflage
Casemate 3 – Military life in the Battery
Casemate 4 – Construction
There is also a splendid Dakota aircraft at the site which is well worth a look around.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits