10 Great Things to See at the D-Day Beaches


The D-Day Beaches in Normandy: An Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

The Normandy Beaches are famous because on June 6, 1944, the allied forces landed there and began their long battle for victory. This year is the 70th anniversary of those landings. And while it would be amazing to take part in the yearly celebrations, just going at any time of the year you are bound for some unforgettable experiences. So choosing a top ten for a place with so much history is nearly impossible, so here is the best that I could do.

St. Mère Eglise
10. The Trail of Remembrance: all along the roads are markers showing the distances the soldiers traveled. And between those markers are monuments and memorials. You cannot go a mile without bumping into something. And I personally think that the homage that these cities paid to their liberators is touching. No one in that area will forget because of the sheer amount of memorials.

9. German Cemetery: in school we are taught that the Germans were the bad guys, but it is easy to forget that these were young men too. They were humans too, and many of them lost their lives. The German Cemetery is something to see in order to get that into perspective. And it is also incredibly different than the American or British cemeteries.

8. Bunkers of Longes-sur-Mer: all along the coast, the Germans built bunkers upon bunkers. Many of them today are in rough shape, but the ones here are almost all completely intact. By walking around this area you can see the strategy of the Germans by their placement of heavy artillery and the rows of ammunitions.

The German Bunkers of Longes-sur-Mer
7. Utah Beach: this beach also has many remnants of German bunkers, but in a lot worse condition. Utah Beach also differs from Omaha beach because there was not as much of a steep climb. So it is interesting to compare the landing sights since so many only go to Omaha.

6. St. Mère-Eglise: this is an interesting city because of the paratroopers that landed there. One got stuck on the steeple of the church, and stayed there for some time until the French got him down. Today you can see a parachute and a mannequin hanging from the steeple of the church. Also, there is a museum dedicated to those who landed in the area.

5. Arromanches: this city taught me so much about D-Day that I never even thought about. This is the site where the British towed in an artificial port to keep the supplies coming in. Today you can still see some remnants of the port. There is also a museum that explains how and why the port was built and it is one of the oldest museums in the area.

4. Pointe du Hoc: by looking at this area, you can see the dedication of the Rangers. When you look down, you can see the steep climb that they had ahead of them. The Rangers literally scaled this cliff with grappling hooks under heavy German fire. Around the area you can still see some German bunkers and a lot of huge holes in the ground that show the impact from the event. This place is truly amazing.

3. Arromanches 360: this got me emotional. It's a movie that shows the battle of Normandy. You stand in a room with projections all around you, each giving you the impression that you were in the middle of it. If I could use this to show to my students, I would because in a short amount of time it conveys a lot of emotions.

The American Cemetery
2. The Caen Memorial: if you are going to go to only one museum, this is the museum to see. And be prepared to be there for a quite a few hours! It gives so much information about everything, even to life after World War II. The other museums in the area go into their individual experiences, but this one is a good overview.

1. The American Cemetery: I cannot find words to describe how important this cemetery is and to convey the emotions that you get when you see it. There are so many graves here, it shows just how big D-Day truly was. I remember being 12 and getting goosebumps and I still get them today. It is just on the cliffs of Omaha Beach, looking down at where everything took place. It truly is worth the emotional visit.

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