I hope you enjoyed my first Normandy post on where to stay and where to eat! Now onto the sites. WWII has always been my favorite period of history. I had Molly the American Girl doll because she lived during this time (and wore glasses) and my favorite book growing up was Number the Stars, a story about two young girls in Denmark during WWII. So it’s shocking it took me so long to visit Normandy and the D-Day sites that helped end the war.
We had one full day to tour. I decided to skip the pricy local tour guides and followed the itinerary laid out by my trusty friend, Rick Steve’s. After a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we drove to Arromanches, arriving a few minutes before opening of the 360 Theater. We admired the view of the bluffs looking over Winston Churchill’s infamous artificial harbor and the beaches of Normandy in the distance.
The theater offers a great montage of videos detailing D-Day, the building of the artificial harbors and the landings that took place on the beaches just below.
From there, we headed down to the town of Arromanches where we toured the D-Day Landing Museum. There was another video about the artificial harbor and some well done models and memorabilia. From the parking lot, you can look out into the harbor and see the few remnants of the harbor.
Next, we ventured to the Longues-sur-Mer German gun battery. Home to four huge guns used by Hitler in his “Atlantic Wall Defense” and the source of heavy artillery during the D-Day landings.
We paused for lunch in the parking lot of a beautiful church and cemetery. I love that all throughout France there are random picnic tables literally on the side of the road. Another couple had the same idea and posted up at the table next to us with a table cloth and wine glasses (locals obvi)! Such a nice way to pause in the middle of a sunny day!
For days when picnics aren’t ideal, there is another location of La Marine in Arromanches with a pretty view over the sea.
Fueled up, we carried on to the Normandy American Cemetery. It was humbling to walk through the rows of crosses that I’ve seen so many times in movies and on TV. We spent a good hour in the museum/visitors center where there is another short film and lots of memorabilia and another hour walking through the cemetery. Side note, we passed Morgan Freeman also visiting the cemetery!
We drove down to Omaha beach to round out our tour. It was a heavy day of visual history but absolutely fascinating.
I would highly recommend spending a full day dedicated to Normandy and the D-Day Sites. I immediately came home and watched Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan to round out my history lesson!