We head off towards the Normandy coast towards the start of the D Day landings. What would have been French named areas area now more known after the landing areas from the June 1944 called Omaha, Sword, Juno, Utah and Red Beach. There are a number of memorials, museums and fortifications all along this region and is very popular for the WW2 history buffs, touring groups and interested parties such as ourselves. The first thing was to miss the coast road for a way so we could spend more time in the main area especially choosing the best museum to visit as there area few. I picked the Musee Du Debarquement as the reviews were the best which was a way away, but on our way.
We stopped first at the Monument du debarquement de la 2eme DB which has a Sherman tank, half track and monument and views of the beach where they landed on Utah beach. It really gives you an idea of the expanse of beach and the obstacles. Utah was less costly, luck of the draw, than Omaha. There were also battlements to look around. We then headed on now we were on the coast road to the museum I had picked out which has dedications to the different companies and divisions (such as engineers, coastguards, air sea rescue that tend to be overlooked in their part) great sculptures and well laid out areas. We had a look along the beach imagining but not really comprehending the absolute hell both sides went through. While travelling I have been reading books on WW2 including D Day and so feel I have a little insight and it has given me perspective.
The café is a wonderful tribute to the soldiers and has so much memorabilia that it is worth a look around, writing on the walls from ex soldiers, mainly yanks, and period items. I scrounge an empty D Day beer bottle as a souvenir so don’t have to buy one. We then head to the museum which I would have to say is probably the best I have seen and we are so glad we chose it. It has been renovated recently so fresh and full of all aspects of this part of the war. A wonderful aside is that an American pilot who helped fund this museum has a real replica of his plane as a memorial there, a mint Martin B26 Marauder, the only one of its kind in the world which his grandson has helped display for the museum. I could have spent longer here but saw what I need to, so we drive on detouring a bit to a supposed popular site at Le Pointe du Hoc where the Germans had built a huge bunker complex which could cover the beach both directions between Utah & Omaha up to 2 kilometres so it was vital to cripple it. This was the task of the 2 & 5 US Ranger battalions who climbed up what the Germans thought was impenetrable cliffs. They managed to get there after some difficulty and lost over 135 men faced counterattacks but held for 3 days. Amazing well worth reading on Wikipedia. The area was quite busy and difficult to get into the bunkers (school bloody holidays) but we got an idea of it especially all the huge craters from the allied bombardment.
We drove right along Omaha beach thinking what a great place to park for the night but there were no other campers so not sure of the legalities. We find a small farm aire for 6e but they have no dumping facilities so we cant stay so move on to another just down the road which is 10e but has all facilities. It is not busy so we settle in, chat to an English couple just starting their journey then have a nice nights sleep.