Fun things to do in Basse-Normandie

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Basse-Normandie

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    Omaha Beach

    by Jmill42 Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    Due to a combination of bad intelligence, poor weather and being the most easily defendable position, Omaha Beach was the bloodiest of all beaches. Most war planners thought that this area should not have even been included in the landing. As seen in Saving Private Ryan, the terrain was about the worst you could want if you were an invading force. The steep cliffs were easily defended and made advancement through the narrow passages between the hills extremely difficult and costly. The German Pillboxes (as seen in the movie), were arranged to defend all possible approaches. Additionally, these boxes faced each other on the opposite sides of the rivines, facing East/West, allowing for attack on the troops, while being shielded from the battleships fire. This meant that each one had to be taken out by the ground troops, resulting in heavy loses. Over 3,000 Americans lost their life in the first day of assault at Omaha, but this allowed over 34,000 to land the same day.

    What really floored me about Omaha, was just how wide of a beach it is. It had to have been 300 yards (meters) that the soldiers had to run, just to get to the cliffs.

    Omaha Beach

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    D-day beaches

    by Rojo72 Updated Feb 13, 2005

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    It was on June 6th 1944, after a grueling night at sea in battleships, cruiser, fisherman's boats or almost whatever could float that the allied expeditionary force (led by general Eisenhower if I remember correctly) in the early morning hours reaches the beaches of Normandy.

    There were five beaches that were to be taken and held at all costs, nicknamed Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha. On D-day the real fights stood at Omaha beach where thousands of Germans, americans, brits, canadians, australians and many other nationalities died during that very day.

    There was an elite troup of German tanks waiting further inland, but the Führer wasn't to be waken and when he finally was he hesitated to throw them into the battle, as he (and his generals) were certain the main attack would come at pas de Calais where the channel is at its smallest. They were sure this was a diversion. Maybe this was the desicive factor but as we all know Operation Overlord was to be a success and Europe was eventually free from the grip of the Nazis.

    One of the D-day beaches
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    Bayeux

    by lamentforicarus Updated Feb 6, 2005

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    With its cobblestone streets, cozy cafes, and beautiful old houses, Bayeux is a charming town with much to offer. It is a base for exploration in the marvelous Normandy region, or a relaxing day trip from the noise and bustle of Paris. Visitors marvel at the famous Bayeux tapestry and the towering Cathedral, while others lounge in its sunny street side cafes after a long day touring the beaches of Normandy. The shady gardens and tranquil streams meandering past drooping trees make this town positively photogenic, and its wealth of history and art provide a wide variety of must see attractions. Whether you are just passing through or spending a week, you will fall in love with the town of Bayeux.

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    Point du Hoc

    by Jmill42 Written Mar 10, 2004

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    Considered the most difficult invasion point of D-Day, Point du Hoc was the responsibilty of the American Second Ranger Battalion. Their objective was to take out huge German guns that were entrenched here. These guns were powerful enough to fire upon Omaha Beach and the warships floating just off shore. Having to scale the 100 foot high, sheer cliff face under less than ideal settings, the Rangers completed their objective of taking out the guns and holding their positions until replacements could arrive from Omaha. 238 Rangers begun the invasion at Point du Hoc, only 90 survived.

    The area has been left untouched from the way it was left 60 years ago. Only some of the bunkers have been roped off, because of the danger of collapse.

    The entire area is considered a military cemetery, because many who died here still lie underneath the rubble.

    Point du Hoc Monument in the background

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    The allied graveyard

    by Rojo72 Written Feb 13, 2005

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    The allied graveyard from the second world war is a must. Thousands and thousands of crosses and stars of David...and most of them were young men who died on or about June 6th 1944 (D-day for you who didn't know).

    This is where the motion picture "Saving Private Ryan" begins...

    The allied graveyard in Normandy
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    Musee du Debarquement

    by Jmill42 Written Mar 10, 2004

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    This museum is devoted to the amazing story of Port Winston. There is a film that summarizes all the difficulties in planning, transporting, and building of this massive, temporary port. Built in July of 1944, it ended up being the largest port in the world for that year, in terms of tonnage. Pretty amazing. While I was there, a museum employee also gave a verbal introduction to the massive model housed in glass, that included models of the individual pieces of the port and how many people and vehicles were deployed every second/minute/hour/etc.

    The Model of the Port

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    Point du Hoc

    by Rojo72 Written Feb 13, 2005

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    The Hoc point is the highest point of the coastline on the attack beaches. It was a german stronghold and featured 2 gigantic guns that had to be put out of order ahead of the D-day landings. A small group of english special troups climbed the cliffs that night to put them out, but the guns were gone, only black painted telephone posts were found. The guns were later found inland and destroyed by special forces (this is also in the Saving Private Ryan movie and in some computer games, like Call of Duty for example).

    There are loads and loads of shell-holes nearby. You should see them too, they are so large that when you stand in the bottom you'd have to be 3-4 metres tall to see above the edge...and I'd guess they are like 20 metres wide...

    Point du Hoc
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    Juno Beach

    by Jmill42 Written Mar 10, 2004

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    Headed by the Canadian Forces, the Juno Beach landing was the easiest of all the landings, when comparing casualties. The German resistance here was the lightest, and they did not pose the greatest threat in landing. The coral reefs that lie in this area had to be taken into account. This forced the landing to be later to allow for the tides to come in, so the deployment vessles could clear them. This also allowed the beach defenses to be submerged and unable to be detected. These mines damaged or destroyed 30 percent of the landing force. Once landed, however, the German forces were no match for the Canadians, and were quickly taken over. The Canadians drove the furthest inland of any of the invading forces on the first day.

    Borrowed from the web

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    Caen Peace Museum

    by Segolily Updated Nov 10, 2009

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    This is a good place to begin your journey into an understanding of WWII.
    I hesitated spending our time here, but this is one of the major Museums in the world dealing with the background and experience of World War Two and I'm glad we went. Out front is the unique sculpture of a mangled gun, not beat into a plowshare, but never again to be used for violence. Be sure to check it out.
    We began by following the winding walkway down into the depths of the building, reading along the way the precursers to war. We didn't read everything there was, it was a bit overwhelming. There is much to see here and one could spend several days to see it all. There were several movies to chose from and we enjoyed one which was very well done. Overall I found the museum to be thoughtful and well planned.
    Not to be missed are the International gardens outside. We especially enjoyed the US waterfall garden. We spent around three hours here and only skimmed the surface.

    U.S. Waterfall garden No more guns
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    Omaha Cemetery

    by Segolily Updated Nov 10, 2009

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    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.

    symbol of a fallen comrade rows and rows view from the top
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    Omaha Beach

    by Segolily Updated Nov 10, 2009

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    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.

    Quiet now the old and new monuments les Braves earth renews itself Omaha Beach landings
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    D-Day beaches

    by Mikebond Updated Jan 4, 2006

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    The so-called landing beaches or D-Day beaches cover most of the coast of Calvados as far as the beginning of the paeninsula of Cotentin.
    They are, from East to West, Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach, Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. They bear the names of the coded names that the allies used to prepare the liberation of Europe from nazism.
    D-Day occurred in the morning of 6th June 1944, when the American paratroops landed on the Norman beaches between 6 and 6.30. That day marked the start of operation Overlord.
    The number of museums, memorials or other monuments about the D-Day is considerable. I can mention:
    - the Musée du Débarquement in Arromanches-les-Bains (photos to come);
    - German defensive posts in Port-en-Bessin;
    - the already mentioned American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer;
    - the Musée des Troupes aéroportées in Sainte-Mère-Église, the village where the film The longest day was took. The museum has the shape of a parachute (photos to come).

    Omaha Beach in Port-en-Bessin defensive post in Port-en-Bessin
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    Balleroy and the Musée des Ballons

    by Mikebond Updated Jan 20, 2006

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    The small village of Balleroy is just mentioned in the guide my parents and I used to visit Normandie, still it really deserves a visit for several reason: it is one of the first examples of town planning and it has a nice castle hosting the Musée des Ballons.
    The château de Balleroy, finished in 1631, was one of the first works by François Mansart, who gave the name to the mansard. The garden was designed by the famous architect André le Nôtre, who operated a lot in the Parisian region. However, the characteristic of Balleroy is that the streets were built starting from the castle.
    American politician Malcolm Forbes fell in love with the castle and acquired it in 1970. The world's first balloon museum opened in 1975. Many documents about the history ballooning, as well as Forbes' balloon are exhibited there. Every year, an international ballooning meeting takes place in the gardens of the castle. Many different posters commemorating these events can be bought in the shop.
    These are the reasons why I highly recommend visiting Balleroy, although many guides don't mention it.

    the castle with the gardens streets from the castle the museum Forbes' balloon posters in the shop
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    Omaha Beach

    by lamentforicarus Updated Feb 6, 2005

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    One the morning of June 6th, 1944, this beach served as one of the bloodiest battlegrounds of WW2. At 6:30 a.m., soldiers of the U.S. 1st and 29th infantry divisions began to wade ashore amidst a hail of gunfire and mortar volleys. To their surprise, the German defense had suffered little from the United States naval bombardments, and a relentless barrage of firepower caused a devastating loss of life. The casualty count was so catastrophic, Lt. General Omar Bradley, one of the commanding officers in Operation Overlord, considered retreating from the beaches. But as the day wore on, the determination and courage of American forces persisted and slowly, they were able to storm German positions, driving their enemy of the beaches. A stunning and graphic depiction of the event can be witnessed in Steven Speilburg's Saving Private Ryan.

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    Pont du Hoc

    by lamentforicarus Updated Feb 6, 2005

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    Pont du Hoc is the site of ruined German artillery installations bombarded in the Allied invasion of Normandy. During the landings on Omaha Beach, soldiers of the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the dramatic 100 foot cliffs to capture German artillery and observation positions. To their surprise, the area had previously been deserted by the Germans. Today, the destroyed bunkers and pillboxes remain, and the land still shows the scars of a massive bombardment. Visit the nearby D-Day museum for an interesting aerial photograph of the position just days after the attack.

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Basse-Normandie Hotels

  • Mercure

    Route du Mont Saint Michel, BP 8, Mont-St-Michel, Basse-Normandie, 50170, France

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 3 out of 5 stars

  • Hotel d'Argouges

    I would recommend this 3 star hotel to anyone staying in Bayeux. It is an old townhouse which has...

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  • PLUS Hotel Malherbe

    Our visit to Caen was booked through Brittany Ferries staying at the Holiday Inn; what a excellent...

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Basse-Normandie Things to Do

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