A trip to the beaches of Normandy provides not just beautiful scenery, but also a chance to learn about the historical events of World War II. One of the most decisive battles of modern history is beyond a doubt the battles that took place on the beaches on Normandy during D-Day. These battles carried out on five separate beaches in Normandy began the liberation of Nazi occupied France and eventually the rest of Europe.
History of the Beaches
The five beaches of Normandy used in the D-Day operations are those of Juno, Gold, Sword, Omaha, and Utah. Together, these beaches span 54 miles of the Normand coast and make for a good day of historical discovery. This stretch of beach was chosen to be the Allies landing points for D-day because once control was won, they would be the easiest ponts from which to launch a land assault on the Germans. This coast of France was also the furthest from Britain, so it was also deemed that the Germans would not be expecting an attack on this front. At around 6:30am on June 6, 1944 the Allied forces of British, American, and Canadian men made landfall on each of the five beach from which they painstakingly made their way inland. Due to a strong winds the American troops ended up a little East of their targets at Utah, and Omaha, which lead to a more difficult landing and higher American casualties. Standing on the beach looking out to sea, it is hard to imagine the violence seen here the 6th of June 1944. However, at many points leading up to the different beaches you can still visit old German bunkers, their concrete riddled with craters from the Allies advance. The land surrounding the beaches is often also filled large craters, which helps the visitor imagine just how intense the shelling from the Allies was.
What is there to visit?
Besides the beaches there are numerous museums, memorials, cemeteries, and historic sites in the surrounding towns. Notably there is the Caen Memorial : Center for History and Peace which has a collection of artifacts from the 1930’s and 40’s that create a moving narrative of World War Two told mainly from the French perspective. Another place worth visiting is the American Military Cemetery at Omaha Beach. This is a great option to visit especially if you only have a short amount of time because in one stop you can visit the cemetery and Omaha beach. There are 9,387 Americans who lost their lives in the initial offensive on June 6th or in the days just after buried here. Visiting it is a moving experience as it brings to light the real costs of the war. Other places to consider visiting are the Canadian Juno Beach Centre, Musée du Débarquement, and Le Grand Bunker – Musée du Mur de l’Antique.
With everything to see on and along the beaches of Normandy ParisByM would be happy to help you plan what you want to see and how to go about it in order to make sure this is an stress-free and discovery filled trip outside of Paris.
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