Normandy is a wonderful part of France. It’s dotted with picturesque half-timbered villages and seaside towns and is renowned for its cuisine. The region is perhaps most known for the historically significant D-Day beaches and memorials. We’ve created a list of seven unmissable World War II sites to see in Normandy.
Seven Unmissable World War II Sites to See in Normandy
Caen Memorial Museum
The Caen Memorial Museum is a great place to start any visit to the World War II sites in Normandy. This museum is dedicated to the history of the 20th century and a large part of it focuses on World War II, the D-Day landings, and the Battle of Normandy. You’ll get an overview of the events before moving on to see the beaches, monuments, and memorials in person.
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is undoubtedly one of the most impressive World War II sites to see in Normandy. As you walk through, you’ll notice numerous bomb craters and German bunkers. Lieutenant Colonel Rudder lead 200 men from the 2nd Ranger Battalion up the 100-foot cliff to destroy a gun battery located between Utah and Omaha beaches. Upon reaching the top, the rangers discovered that the guns were already removed. They fought back counter-attacks for two days until reinforcements arrived.
La Cambe German Cemetery
La Cambe is the largest German military cemetery in Normandy. When visiting this cemetery, you’ll want to notice the somber color tones, design, and layout. It’s thought-provoking to compare it to the nearby Normandy American Cemetery.
Omaha Beach is a main site for American D-Day history. On D-Day, it was the destination for over two-thirds of the seaborne troops. Many of the courageous soldiers drowned or were killed on approach. The Americans suffered over 4,000 casualties on Omaha Beach, making it the bloodiest of the D-Day landing sites.
French Side Travel’s Tours and Unique Experiences in Normandy
Want to experience the World War II beaches, monuments, and memorials differently? French Side Travel can organize the perfect tour for you to see the unmissable World War II sites in Normandy. We can arrange tours in a classic Jeep, multiple day excursions to dive deeper into the history with an expert guide, day trips from Paris to see the sites from a helicopter and more.
French Side Travel Tip: Weather in this part of Normandy can be unpredictable. We always recommend bringing extra layers and rain gear.
Normandy American Cemetery
One of the most emotional World War II sites to visit is the Normandy American Cemetery. Here you’ll find crosses and Stars of David that mark the nearly 9,400 who died during the Allied Liberation of France. Three Medal of Honor recipients rest here as well as 45 sets of brothers. You’ll also find over 1,500 names carved on the walls of the Garden of the Missing.
The design of the Normandy American Cemetery is particularly powerful as the long, regular rows of headstones almost appear to rise from the water below. In the center, there is a bronze statue, “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.”
The German artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer, located directly between the Gold and Omaha landing beaches, offered great positioning to oppose the D-Day landing. The immaculately preserved battery is the only place in France where you can see four original artillery guns.
Arromanches-les-Bains is in the center of the Gold Beach landing zone. Here, the British set up Mulberry Harbor (also known as Port Winston), a man-made harbor assembled in Britain and towed across the English Channel. Made up of sunken ships, concrete caissons, and floating roadway, Mulberry Harbor was essential to the war effort. Over 10 months, over 2.5 million soldiers, 500,000 vehicles, and four million tons of supplies came through the harbor.
You’ll also find the Musée de Debarquement and Arromanches 360°, a circular cinema with archival footage from the D-Day landings.
Looking for the perfect base to stay in while exploring the historical World War II sites in Normandy? Try the 18th century Château d’Audrieu, a delightful property set amongst beautiful parks and gardens. From this hotel you’ll be able to easily reach Caen, Bayeux, Mont Saint-Michel and more!
The unmissable World War II sites in Normandy will surely inspire you to spend more time in the region. Our expert travel designers are available to suggest the perfect extension to your Normandy trip whether you want to focus on the Best of Normandy, a Foodie Roadtrip, or the Best of Normandy by Train. To extend your trip even longer, or start dreaming about a future trip to France, check out our sample trips focused on food and wine, history and culture, adventure, and romance and scenery. There’s truly something for everyone in France!
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