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Normandy Beach

What To Visit For Your Normandy Battle Tours ?

1944. June, the 6th. D.Day of the invasion of Normandy. Soldiers from 16 different nationalities landed on Normandy’s beaches, marking the start of Europe’s liberation from the Nazis. Allies landed on the 5 beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Back on the track of a broken past.

All along Normandy Coast are monuments and museums dedicated to World War II. In fact, the battle of Normandy was a decisive turn for peace in Europe. 4 days are needed to do a complete tour. But you can skip some steps.

 

Practical Information Before Doing Normandy Battle Tours :

For Normandy Battle Tours, you can rent a car. But I recommend you contact a tourism agency or to book a tour with a guide since organizing this tour will be pretty difficult, especially if you do not know French roads well. As for public transportation, it is limited and not advised.

 

Day 1 : Mémorial of Caen, Sword Beach and Canadian Tour

To start Normandy Battle Tours, you should visit the Memorial of Caen, one of the most important museum on World War II. It covers the contemporary history from Sarajevo to the fall of the Berlin wall. You can take a ticket for the visit of the Memorial of Caen and for “Arromanches 360”, a circular cinema with unique footage of WWII.

Then visit Juno Beach and the Sword Beach, where the Merville Battery is located. At the Merville battery, you will discover the Germans’ defense system, with 20km-ranged cannons.D Day sites, 5 beaches of Normandy, Normandy Battle Tours

At Juno Beach, which was affected to the Canadian army, was held a bloody battle. The low tide and the lack of visibility, led to a late arrival of the army, enabling the opposing army to organize itself. Thus, Canadians suffered heavy losses. It is also the beach of Charles de Gaulle’s return (you can take a look at the Lorraine cross).

The Center Juno Beach is the only Canadian museum. It depicts Canada’s role during World War II.

 

Day 2 : Arromanches, the “Musée du Débarquement” and the British Cemetery

Arromanches’ port, also called Port Mulberry or Port Winston, is the ground zero for the operation. Actually, there were 2 harbors but the one on Omaha beach was destroyed by the storm. Normandy Battle ToursThe floating port was decisive for the liberation of France, especially for the offensive of Montgomery at Caen. The artificial harbor was built for the battle in 8 days thanks to a system of  spare parts. Located on the middle of the 5 beaches, weapons and ammunitions were provided by this bridge.

Enjoy a 19-minute movie at “Arromanches 360“, a circular cinema with exclusive images and footages of the World War II, ideal to immerse in the context of the war.

After this, you can visit the “Musée du Débarquement” of Arromanches, the first museum to commemorate the battle of Normandy. Built on the ruins, the museum will describe how the harbor was made.

Then, you can walk through the British cemetery. Actually, there are 27 cemeteries in Normandy. So there is no need to visit all of them.

 

Day 3 : Omaha Beach and the “Pointe du Hoc”

Normandy battlefield excursion in 1 to 2 days, Normandy Battle ToursOmaha beach is also called “Bloody Omaha“, since one of the most devastating battles was here. Near Omaha beach, you will find a memorial and the American cemetery, where almost 10 000 soldiers who fought for peace are buried. For a better understanding of the context, I recommend you visit the visitor center.

The Museum of D-Day Omaha was built in commemoration of American soldiers who fought on Omaha Beach. Some special pieces are displayed as a rebuilding of Port Arromanches A.

After Omaha beach, you should admire the Pointe du Hoc. American rangers climbed steep cliffs to take this important observation base of German fortifications. They discovered then that the Germans had moved their cannons a few days before. The mission was so risky that from the 225 rangers, only 90 were in shape to fight. It still bears the marks of the intense bombing from the Allies. You will be able to visit the remaining bunkers.

Normandy Battle Tours

 

Day 4 : Sainte-Mère-Eglise, the batteries of Marcouf and Utah Beach

Sainte-Mère l’Eglise is the first village liberated by the Americans. Paratroopers took a lead role in this mission. One story in particular, made this village famous. Wounded in the legs, one paratrooper landed on the Church tower and remained hanging here for 3 hours. He pretended to be dead, then was captured by the Germans and fortunately he managed to escape. A manikin was put on the Church as a souvenir.

The Airborne museum covers especially the role of paratroopers and the material and techniques of the time.

After visiting the museum, you can either explore the labyrinth of the batterie of Crisberg or the battery of Azeville. The first one, the battery of Crisberg, has shown the most opposition. Its 30km-ranged guns made it the most impressive battery of the Normandy Coast.

To end your Normandy Battle Tours, go to Utah Beach. In the “Musée du Débarquement” is displayed one of the 3 last bombardiers still existing, the bombardier B26.

Normandy D-Day sites, Normandy, D-Day sites, france in 5 days, Normandy Battle Tours

 

Now, you have all the tools to prepare ideal Normandy battle tours. So, what are you waiting for ?

 

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Places to visit in France

Top 5 Historical Monuments in Paris

There is no better way to discover the history and culture of Paris than by visiting some of its breathtaking historical monuments, which are scattered in and around the capital. With so many on offer in Paris, it is often difficult to know where to start, especially if you are here for only a short amount of time. To help you, we have narrowed it down to the top 5 historical monuments in Paris.

1. The Eiffel Tower

This is the first of our top 5 historical monuments in Paris, perhaps an obvious starting point. Designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel for an international art festival, this must-see monument was intended to be but a temporary feature in Paris. Thankfully still with us, it is now one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Europe, if not the world. And it is for good reason that this is the case. Beautiful when sighted from a-far, astounding when seen up-close, you absolutely cannot miss La Tour Eiffel during your stay in the city. Alight at Trocadero (Metro line 6 or 9) for a breathtaking view of this historical monument, or take a trip in the lift to the top.

Top 5 historical monuments in Paris, visit, landmark, monument

2. Notre-Dame Cathedral

The historical monument is synonymous with Paris and, if for no other reason, should be on your list because it is completely free to enter! It is truly one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, internally and externally, and celebrated its 850-year anniversary in 2013, a veritable Gothic masterpiece. We recommend going early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the long queues. Furthermore, there are regular services and all are welcome to attend the mass, especially if you enjoy choral music. One almost feels transported back in time at this hauntingly beautiful, historical monument.

Top 5 historical monuments in Paris, visit, landmark, monument

3. L’Arc de Triomphe

Top 5 historical monuments in Paris, visit, landmark, monument

Iconic in Paris and around the world, l’Arc de Triomphe commemorates the lives of all the French soldiers who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Commissioned in 1806, inscribed with the names of French victories and generals, this historical monument is a must-see for your stay in Paris. One can approach the base of the arc wherein lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, buried after World War I, for whom a flame is rekindled every evening. This famous monument is fascinating for those interested in the history and culture of France as a nation. We also recommend that you make the climb to the top of the Arc, preferably at sunset, as it will provide you with a view of Paris like no other.

Top 5 historical monuments in Paris, visit, landmark, monument

4. Palace of Versailles

A short train ride away from the centre of Paris lies the astonishingly beautiful palace and gardens at Versailles. Commissioned and built during the reign of King Louis XIII and extended by his son Louis XIV, the Sun King, the palace encapsulates the glamour and wealth of the French Monarchy from the 17th century up until the Revolution. Be prepared however, the Palace and its gardens are vast, so make sure to set-aside a full day for your trip to Versailles. Incredibly luxurious and self-indulgent, a feast for the eyes, this historical monument is absolutely worth the time and money.

 

5. Basilica Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

Top 5 historical monuments in Paris, visit, landmark, monument

This is the last of our top 5 historical monuments in Paris. Designed by Paul Abadie in Romanesque-Byzantine style, the construction of this Parisian landmark began in 1875, desired by the conservative Catholics. It was both a movement against the Paris Commune, the rebelling Republicans, and a signalling of national penance after France’s defeat during the Franco-Prussian War. Entrance to the basilica is free and we recommend you take a trip there on a Sunday to witness the world-renowned organ, built in 1898, being played at Mass and Vespers. This historical monument is the second highest point in the city and a trip to the top is highly desirable. There is a charge to access the Dome but upon reaching the top, you will be treated to, arguably, the best panoramic view of Paris.

Top 5 historical monuments in Paris, visit, landmark, monument

There are, of course, countless historical monuments in Paris that are certain to impress the curious tourist. One need only wander around the capital to see that some piece of history lies around every corner. This list, although not comprehensive, provides an excellent starting point. These historical monuments are those that you simply cannot go without during your time in the Paris, and we hope you enjoy visiting and admiring each of them.

Tickets for these monuments, and many more, are included in our package deals which can be found here.

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What to see in Le Marais?

Le Marais is one of the most emblematic neighborhoods of Paris and is located in the 3rd and the 4th districts. This is a place full of history which is divided in several parts with, in each one, different atmospheres. We no longer count what you could do in this quarter !

A little bit of history

Shopping on Sunday in Paris, Off-Beaten Paths Paris, le marais

Credit: wikipedia

Le Marais is located over an old wide swampy area, hence its name (« Marais » means  « Marsh »). It was built in the Middle Ages, housing historical buildings such as the wall of Philippe Auguste, and religious buildings built around it, such as Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Parish. In the 17th century, King Henri IV built the present Place des Vosges (formerly Place Royale), a perfect place for walks. Later, in the 19th century and even earlier, Ashkenazi jews persecuted in Eastern Europe settled in the neighborhood. Today, the Jewish quarter is a legacy.

Le Marais has become, today, a district both historical and trendy. This neighborhood is also known for being gay-friendly.

How to experience it?

le marais

Philippe Auguste’s wall is located not far from the Saint-Paul gardens, and was built in the 12th century by this King of France who reigned at the same time. It is the oldest wall in Paris, and it served to delimit the boundary between Paris and the exterior.

You can also find the Hotel de Sens, which is a 15th century historical hotel which houses now a library, and which has its own gardens, the Jardins de l’Hôtel de Sens, in which you can enjoy the sun during the beautiful days.

Picasso Museum, Paris Museums, le marais

Wikipedia

This area is not only full of history but also of arts. The Picasso Museum (Musée Picasso), inaugurated in 1985, exhibits the documents and works of the artist, as well as the House of Victor Hugo (Maison de Victor Hugo), located on the Place des Vosges (built by King Henri IV), where he lived from 1832 to 1848. You will also be able to visit a jewish art gallery, the Art 25, as well as the Museum of Art and History of Judaism (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme).
The Carnavalet Museum (Musée Carnavalet), which traces the history of Paris, is also located in the district, where you can learn more about the history of Le Marais (check more information here).

Self-Guided walking tour, le marais

Le Marais includes a jewish quarter called Pletzl (Pletzl means “small place” in Yiddish), which begins in the rue des Rosiers, this cobbled street where you can taste delicious falafels at l’As du Falafel (pay attention to the length of the queuel because they are victim of their success!) or at Mi-Va-Mi. You can also find synagogues or kosher shops in this historical place, inhabited by the jewish community since the Middle Ages.

le marais

Flickr

The Holocaust Museum (Mémorial de la Shoah), not far away from the emblematic Pltetzl, is a must-see and is one of the most emotional places in the neighborhood. There are permanent exhibitions, with documents from the Second World War, including the Holocaust, during which the Jews of France and Europe were deported. There is a crypt containing the victims’ ashes, pictures, the names of the deportees, the names of the Justes (those who hid the Jews). As well as a bookstore that offers more than 3000 references on this topic.

Le Marais is probably the most gay-friendly neighborhood in the capital, where you can find many gay bars. You can also find thrift stores, such as Kilo Shop, one of the thrift shops in Paris where you can make really good deals.

Enjoy your walk in Le Marais !

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Museums You've Never Heard Of, Invalides, army museum

The army museum : a History gem in the Invalides

Presentation of the Museum

Louis XIV decided to build The Hôtel des Invalides, in order to host and take care of the injured soldiers. The aim was quite philanthropist : enabling them to enjoy the rest of their life the best possible in a place they would be taken care of. Then, two museums were created in the Hotel : the Artillery Museum (1796), exposing royal collections and other gifts, and the Historical Army Museum (1896). Only in 1905 did these two museums merge to become the army museum. Today, this almost 10 000m² museum holds about 500 000 pieces so that it is the 3rd global collection, which makes it very impressive and undoubtedly worthseeing !

What you can’t miss

Invalides, army museum

Since the army museum is divided into about 10 sections, we’ve decided to present you those you cannot miss. Let’s start with the most famous one : The Rounded Roof Church.

The Rounded Roof Church

This dome is the symbol of the Hotel, because of its architectural magnificence. Built in the end of the 17th century, this royal chapel pays tribute to its creator, Louis XIV through its decoration, but it also quickly became a sanctuary. In the 1800s, it began to house the tombstone of two renown Marshalls, Turenne, and Vauban (his heart at least). Recognizable from very far, it is mostly famous because it contains Napoléon 1er’s tombstone. The decoration style is quite stunning, with very few but fancy colours in noble stones (quartzite, granit and marble)… Thus, it has all the elements to amaze you !

The District of old armors and weapons (from the Middle Age to 1643)

There, you will discover the evolution of the weapons used in Europe in this period, in a chronological order. From medieval swords to more modern arms such as guns, you will be invited to approach the unfolding of many European wars, and even to learn about the Asian inheritage of the weapons.

army museum

The Modern District, from Louis XIV (1643) to Napoleon III (1870).

More focused on the French History, you will be revealed the evolution of technologies and war strategies, but also the different political regimes France knew all over this period. You will be able to approach the soldiers’ daily life through their costumes, weapons, and you will also access Napoleon’s personal goods. Besides, the section is renown for the diversity of its collection, so that you will also find more unusual items such as musical instruments or decorations.

The Contemporary District and the Two World Wars

Turning points in the French, but also the World’s History, this district presents a very diversified collection of items showing what these wars were made of in terms of arms, and how they unfolded. You will note the contrast with the first District through the improvement of the weapons, and all the different rooms will make you feel like one of these soldiers. Moreover, there are personal documents such as letters or pictures which undoubtedly won’t leave you unmoved.

army museum

The Charles de Gaulle Historial

Paying tribute to the 18th June Man, the one who liberated France from the Occupation, this district is quite different in shape and content from the others, because it is above all filled with multimedia archives. There are no items but many screens and an infra-red audioguide to dive you into the path and the achievements of Charles de Gaulle, a President of paramount importance in the French History, and who is still deeply rooted in its memory.

If you want more

We advise you to pass by the Cour d’Honneur, in which you will find other pieces of the French Artillery through 70 bronze cannons. You can also visit the Museum of Bas-Reliefs to discover plenty of cities and countrysides models. Finally, if you were pleased by the Charles de Gaulle Historial, you should visit the Museum of Order and Liberation, paying tribute to those who fought through the Resistance for the Liberation of France.

Practical Information

Click in the following link to learn about the cost of the tickets and the opening hours. Note that the audioguides are available in 8 languages. Moreover, if you want to eat, there is a restaurant called “le Carré des Invalides”. Enjoy your visit in the great army museum !

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