The western most beach of the allied invasion, the US 4th Infantry landed here on 6 June, 1944. Brig General Teddy Roosevelt Jr came ashore with the first wave, the only Allied general to do so. His actions were widely honored.
This was our favorite beach. Perhaps because it was so late and there were few people about. Perhaps because it seemed more intimate, more approachable. Perhaps because after all it was only a beach, and by the end of the day we couldn't absorb any more history, and we just enjoyed a sunset on a beach. Again, we arrived too late to visit the museum, but there were plenty of monuments to go around (eight by one count).
Off the side of the road out of town the Germans for some reason abandoned this tank, perhaps they were out of fuel. This tank was protecting the fleeing soldiers. The battle of Normandy was lost, General Rommel was wounded and the Falaise Gap was closed. For years it was left where it sat, leaning ever more precariously and being overwhelmed with vegetation. Finally the town took action, in 1975 the tank was restored and a park made around it. For us it was the beginning of our WWII saga. Our first encounter with the tanks, the story, the people and the towns left behind. We were glad we came. There are others who make the pilgrimage, looking for history where it happened.
As a teenager I used to be staring at a large poster in my French class. Others might have been watching the Eifel tower or the Arc de Triomphe, I was gazing at a small mountain filled with ancient buildings and surrounded by the sea. It was a picture of Le-Mont-Saint-Michel, a pilgrims goal for almost more then 1.000 years. The island, merely a rock in the sea in front of the coast between Normandie and Bretagne, is completely filled with a huge abbey and it's surrounding village. The original chapel devoted to Saint Michel (Michael) is hardly visible now-a-days and this "Western wonder" attracts millions of tourists every year (after Paris it is actually the second touristic attraction in France). How many of these present day tourist are pilgrims can hardly be said, but Le-Mont (as it simply is called in the region) has attracted through the centuries many thousands pilgrims per year. Also the location is of amazing beauty, as the island used to (and will again) be a complete island in a large bay that has one of the most extreme tidal differences in the world. The sea retreats here for almost 30 kilometer to return again near the island. Due to human stupidity, the nature has gotten in disbalance in the last century and Le-Mont is hardly ever an island again. In an enormous project that has been inplimented recently, this will be made undone, so Le-Mont-Saint-Michel will again have it's former glory as a sacred island in the sea. Both island as whole bay are UNESCO world heritage monuments!
Bayeux is one of these ancient gems that Normandie has to offer his visitors. The small town is of incredable scenic beauty and guarantees a very pleasant day for all who arrive here. It is the home of the Tapissery de Reine Mathilde, the famous tapestry of Bayeux and the oldest in it's kind. It is 70 meters long and tells the story of William the Conqueror who regains his right to the English thrown in the battle of Hastings. In the centre of Bayeux ne also can admire the magnificent gothic cathedrale Notre Dame and the town offers many restaurants that serve deliscious Normandian cuisine.
We stayed in Bayeux while visiting Invasion of Normandy sites because we were told it was convenient. What a lovely surprise to find that Bayeux, in and of itself, is a wonderful travel desitnation.
Don't miss the Bayeux Tapestry. The museum in which is is housed does an excellent job of explaining the images. We wish we had studied a bit in advance. This is not a period of history any in our group knew well and the tapestry story is long and involved.
While in Bayeux be sure to purchase some local cider and Calvados.
If you're there on Saturday don't miss their weekly market.
Bayeux is an attractive little town just off the Normany coast. Set just inland of the D Day landing beaches, Bayeux was the first town in France to be liberated from Nazi occupation.
Bayeux is most known for the famous Bayeux Tapestry, over 1000 yers old it was commissioned in the middle of the 10th century. At 70 meters long the tapestry, tells the story of the successful attack by the Normans (French) on the Saxons (English) lead by William the Conqueror. There is also a mention of Halleys comet & soldiers getting stuck in quick sand off Mont Saint Michel.
The Museum is open between a minimum of 9 - 6 pm, with a break for lunch from 12.30 - 2pm in the winter. Entrance was about 7 Euros.
No Photos are allowed inside hence the postcard .
The 5 beaches of the D Day landing area Utah & Omah both landed by the Americans, Gold Juno and Sword which were taken mainly by by British and Canadians with smaller groups of Commonwealth and free French & Polish forces. On the 6th of June 1944 45,000 men took part in the intial "Operation Overlord" with many more following one the beaches were under allied control.
Although the awful battle was bloody enough, the Nazis believed the invasion was to take place further up the coast near Calais where the channel is much narrower. This area was much heavier defended than the above mentioned beaches. Had they got it right, the chances are the operation would have been unsuccessful.
Today the beaches are a haven of peace, the odd battlement dotted here & there are the only signs we saw that anything on this scale happened here.
It would be hard to visit the American Military cemetery and not be moved by the atmosphere and sight of so many graves here, Crosses and Star of Davids in perfect lines no matter what direction you look at them. 9386 American soldiers are buried here, plus a further 1557 soldiers whose bodies were never recovered are remembered by a memorial. Other soldiers were retuned home to America at the request of their families.
The cemetery is open 9-5pm slightly later in the summer.
I have read every book I could about the Normandy invasion. I am better than average with a map. So I felt well prepared to find my own way as I toured Normandy. After just a few hours it became clear that I was going to miss many of the things that I wanted to see because Normandy I huge and the places that I really wanted to see were small and very specific. Add the kicker that many sites are privately held and restricted to guided tours. So I luckily found a great guide in Dale Booth.
He was smart, very well prepared, approachable, super knowledgeable and energetic. He draws on a life time of study, personal contact with many veterans of Normandy and years of guiding experience. I used him for two days and was very satisfied. He took me to many sites that I would simply been unable to find. He quickly and expertly put things into context and filled in details with accurate information. He was very approachable and welcomed any and all questions.
I am a bit of a cheepo and it was hard to part with the guide fee. In retrospect I have no regrets. I know that I had a much more meaning full time in Normandy because of using this guide.
Located in the very heart of the Pays d’Auge, La Fromagerie Graindorge in Livarot is the only independent company which produces Pont- l'évêque, Livarot and Camembert cheese. The origins of the company go back to the beginning of the last century. In 1999 a fire completely devastated the factory. An ultramodern factory was built in its place, with equipment allowing mass production while respecting the traditional manufacturing methods.
The new buildings include a tour which informs visitors about the manufacturing process and refining of cheese. Along the way they encounter videos and interactive presentations which detail each stage of the process plus students will have a ‘hands on’ experience of turning the curds into cheese
You can drive through as famous places as Camembert, Livarot or Pont-l'Evêque. The names of those villages were given to cheeses. I suggest you to visit the Gaindorge cheese factory located in Livarot.They produce Livarot and Pont-l'Evêque cheeses. The visit is intreactive and allows you to understand the evolution of the production from the collection of the milk at 150 local farms to the end product. Dont mis neither the shop at the end of the visit. The choice among local products is simply huge !!!! Prefer the visit in the morning as the production is fully operating at this momement of the day. Opening hours : - Monday-Friday : 9.30 till 12.00 and 13.30 till 17.00- Saturday : de 9.30 -12.00Free entrance
CHEERS TOMMY X
The town made famous by the movie The Longest Day. What would a trip to Sainte Mere Eglise be without a picture of the paratrooper hanging from the church? It was such a great D-day story that the townsfolk have left a dummy paratrooper to photograph. The Airborne Museum is here and would be a nice stop. We didn't have time to do much else here except sleep and fill the car with gas. But it looked like a nice town.
The place where the Rangers persevered so valiantly for nothing. The guns they had come to capture had been moved. The earth however remains tattered by the bombing it received. It is another visual sober moment to think of the bombs bursting here.
I was disappointed because the monument itself is behind barbed wire apparently to prevent anyone from falling from the very sheer cliff. I'm sure the museum was worthwhile, we arrived after it was closed.
We stumbled on this while searching for the main beach access. Perhaps there was a sign pointing the way. Behind the natural sand ridge with a view of the landing beaches is a small gun battery. Near the parking lot stands a memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division. This was the only place we found that was a remnant from that historic day. Did the 2nd Infantry division capture this gun battery?
We visited here near the end of the day. The beach was deserted. It is a beautiful beach, nice sand, gentle waves. And that huge palisade the troops had to overcome. I had heard that you must walk to the waters edge and then turn around and look at the view the troops had as they landed with guns firing on them. I'm glad I did. I hope you are able visit this place at a quiet time, in order to reflect and ponder the significance of the events culminating here.
The stories of the legends, the mistakes, the heros, all those who came ashore on this beach fill books. I could not begin to describe any of them. You may visit here with a tour guide who can share some of them. If not then I hope you will read or watch, before you come, the story of the taking of this beach.
There are two monuments here. One older and more traditional and one new with hope for a new world of brotherhood and freedom.
This is one place everyone knows. Its reputation is well deserved. A beautiful setting for a sober reminder of the cost of war. It is so well taken care of. The rows upon rows of crosses and stars of david are a cumulative sigh of pain. The memorial at the cemetery, the well manicured setting, the view from the hill of the beaches, the American flag waving on this small spot of France all combine to impart a feeling that is hard to describe or forget.
Plan two hours for a walk around the grounds. If you are there at closing you will hear taps as the ceremony is conducted to retire the flag. We were able to watch this moving ceremony. Everyone stopped in honor.
You enter the cemetery grounds through the new, free museum. We felt lucky to be among the first to see this amazing museum. They outdid themselves here, with the words that you can read or hear from all the participants, Generals and privates, men and women, black and white, those back home in America and those who lived the experience of war here in France and more. It does a thorough job of telling the whole story, everyone is represented. Plan at the very least two hours for the museum.
Route du Mont Saint Michel, BP 8, Mont-St-Michel, Basse-Normandie, 50170, France
Good for: Solo
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