See here for my introduction to Normandy Holidays
The Pegasus Bridge Memorial Ranville
This is one most of us know about thanks to the film the Longest Day, located near to the landing beaches. Dedicated to the solders of the British 6th airborne division, the museum provides insight into the various missions they undertook. One of their first objectives was to seize Benouville Bridge, known today as Pegasus Bridge. The majority of artefacts in the museum have been donated by British veterans. In the surrounding land explore the actual Pegasus bridge (bullet holes and all!), a Bailey bridge and a life-size replica of a Horsa glider. The latter housing not just 30 soldiers but an adapted jeep and equipment. The tour guides help you to relive the events that took place, with their enthusiasm, knowledge and stories they have been told by the many visiting veterans.
This is an excellent one for all children as it’s a fairly small museum plus they can run about outside even on the bridge! Well worth the guided tour.
Self-guided or guided tour without supplement (1-1 ½ hr) ; Adults €7 with Normandie Pass: €5.50; Students, children: €4.50; FREE: children (under 8 yrs). www.memorial-pegasus.org
Le Memorial De Caen
This large memorial interactively tells 70 years story of World War II through the end of the cold War 1944-2014. It’s a must for a school trip as its comprehensive and inclusive. It features an underground bunker underneath the Memorial which was the headquarters of Lieutenant-General Richter in 1944, who played a crucial role in the first weeks of the Battle of Normandy. An audio guide escorts you round illustrating events.
I’d suggest this is suitable for all children but you may want to target your interest because of its size. Shop & café. Would be great for school parties.
Adults: €19; Children (10-18yrs) €16.50; Family ticket: €49 www.memorial-caen.fr
Centre Juno Beach Courseulles-sur-Mer
Situated on the beach where the Canadians actually landed in June 1944, portraying the role of Canada troops in the Second World War, particularly in Normandy. It is understated in its technology which gives it an individual charm. It’s a dynamic centre with history, education and heritage. It allows you to learn about Canadian society and understand Canada’s culture and values via films and archive recordings. Tours of Juno Park, remnants of the Atlantic Wall and bunkers (on the beach) are taken by young Canadian guide giving them an authentic atmosphere to the accounts of the battle. A new 12 minute film They Walk with You is the most poignant film I saw on my trip, overwhelming video and touching audio using newsreel footage and dramatic recreations. It evokes an appreciation for the events that happened on D-Day and powerful emotions as you walk out onto the same beach as they did 70 years ago.
Photos of two young Canadians Peter and Madeleine are positioned around the exhibits with quizzes and games to keep young one entertained. “Grandma what was it like during the War”? It is a temporary exhibitions a leaflet led circuit for young children with school and home life displays. They also have a range of activities for school parties.
Recycling is not a new idea –cork tyres
I’d recommend to all. You’d have to judge the emotional impact of the film on young children. Right on the sandy beach and mostly inside (except the bunker on the beach). Look out for the inventive use of corks instead of rubber tyres on the bicycle! My favourite due to the moving film and the museums charm, well worth a visit plus an excellent website.
Self guided tour (1hr); Adults: €7 with Normandie Pass €5.50; Self-guided tour of the Juno Beach Centre and guided tour of Juno Park (45min); Adults: €11 with Normandie Pass: €9; Children (8+yrs) €9 www.junobeach.org
Musee Du Debarquement Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
Utah Beach Normandy, June 6th, 1944, American troops land, 18 years later the Utah Beach museum is founded in 1962. This museum pays tribute to all the men who risked and sacrificed their lives for freedom. In ten chronological sequences, it covers the German Occupation, the forces that were present on the eve of D-Day, the Allied strategy and the events that unfolded on June 6th, 1944 in the Utah Beach sector.
Their new treasure is an authentic Martin B-26G Marauder which is displayed in its own hangar; nothing is too good for their cherished possession. The exhibits give you a good picture of the strategic importance of this Normandy beach in 1944. They have a comprehensive programme of talks by people who witnessed the Landings, ‘forties concerts, book signings, etc.
Martin B-26G Marauder Dimah Might with mission accomplished
I’d recommend the tour specifically designed for children and if you have enough euros left ask about the VIP tours (need booking). Panoramic views out to the beach which thanks to those young troops you can now enjoy in freedom.
Self guided tour (1 ½ hr). Adults: €8 with Normandie pass €7; Children (7-15 yrs) €3.50; Guided tour (1hr); Comprehensive guided tour of the site Landing beach & museum €12 www.utah-beach.com
Memorial De Montormel
Situated one hour’s drive from the landing beaches, watch on a large model and film the final battle in Normandy. August 1944, 100,000 Germans were encircled by American, British, Canadian, French and Polish troops 50,000 Germans were killed or taken prisoner. The 3D diorama map allows you to follow the advance of the troops day by day with lights indicating routes. This is a great way to demonstration events as they develop. As you look over the battlefield, an audio guide will explain how events unfolded in the Falaise-Chambois pocket. The archive footage, photos, and eyewitness accounts all help to put the final phase into perspective. Then the doors open with a panoramic view of the actual combat zone, now beautiful countryside it’s hard to envisage the devastation that occurred.
I’d advise for to older children as you will need to listen and watch but it’s very understandable. Also due to its size you can enjoy over a couple of hours.
Audio-guided tour (1hr) Adults: €5.50 with Normandie Pass: €4.50; Children (over 12 yrs): €3.50; Children (6-12yrs): €2.50 www.memorial-montormel.org
Cinema Circulaire Arromanches 360
New film Normandy’s 100 days. Simultaneously projected 360º onto nine screens, this 19 minute film tells the story of the 100 day Normandy Campaign. The German Army was mercilessly ensnared in the Falaise Pocket. This film shows the terrible suffering endured by civilians (20,000 killed) whose towns and villages were reduced to rubble by Allied bombings. The film has previously unseen footage from Canadian, American, German, British and French archive sources, paying tribute to the soldiers of all nations.
The cinema overlooking the village of Arromanches, it is just 5 min walk down the hill, with great restaurants and a small museum. A beautiful sandy beach, a merry-go-round and looking out to sea you can still see the remains of the artificial port, or ‘Mulberry Harbour!
Arromanches village with the Mulberry Harbour
I’d recommend that you explain to children that you don’t have to watch the screen is a specific order and that you can just immerse yourself in the whole thing. Then wander down to Arromanches village and enjoy its charm.
Adults: €5; Children (10-18yrs): €4.50 www.arromanches360.com/en/
Scallop salad at Brasserie D’En Face in Arromanches
Musee Airborne Sainte-Mere-Eglise
The Airborne Museum is in the heart of the village, overlooking the church square, which became famous thanks to paratrooper John Steele who played dead as he hung from one of its towers. A good photo opportunity as a replica and parachute hang from the steeple, bullet holes are still visible in the church’s stone walls. The Museum consists of a group of building. The first houses a Waco CG-4A glider restored to its original glory you can walk into it and see the troops inside. The second one features a reconstruction showing paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Divisions about to climb aboard a Douglas C-47 Skytrain. Experience Operation Neptune Dans ce troisième et nouvel espace vous vivrez les événements du Jour-J et ceux qui suivirent.in the new extension, a thrilling experience of sounds, motion and visual displays brings D-Day to life. You climb into a C-47, noisy and atmospheric as the floor vibrates. You move onto the church square, the flooded marshes and the storming of bridges, rein acting the night of 1944.
I’d recommend to all children as you can go in and out of the various buildings. Children will love Operation Neptune with its multi-sensory displays.
Self-guided tour (2hr); Adults: €8 with Normandie pass €7; Children (6-16yrs): €4.50 www.airborne-museum.org/en
Batteries and Bunkers
Batterie Allemande De Longues-Sur-Mer
Longues-sur-Mer is the only coastal defence battery on the Landing Beaches to have been designated a ‘Scheduled Monument’. Positioned at the top of a cliff with a panoramic view of the Channel making this a key component of the Atlantic Wall. It had a command post and four bunkers, each with a 150-mm gun permanently in place.
It is the only battery to still have its original guns. The battery can be visited FREE of charge. But I would recommend a tour as you learn so much more. Every day in June, July & August and weekends only in April, May, September & October.
I’d recommend including this on a fine day with a visit to Cinema Circulaire and the village of Arromanches. Children can run around and explore the bunkers and many sit on the 150-mm gun barrel for a photo this actually keeps it clean and polished!
Adults: €4 with Normandie Pass: €3 Children (11-17 yrs): €3; FREE children under 11.
Built by the Todt Organisation (a Third Reich civil and military engineering group) between 1941 and 1944 located close to Sainte-MereElise. An impressive rabbit warren of underground bunkers. Step back in time with the audio guide describing the lives of the men who lived here and their comprehensive defence system. It describes how the battery was built, what life was like for the soldiers and their relations with local people. It was one of the Allies’ prime objectives and after 3 days of fierce fighting and continued bombardment from Utah Beach it was finally quashed on June 9th 1944. The blockhouses were naively camouflaged as tumbledown cottages
Children would love exploring the incredible network of underground rooms and tunnels and there is a children’s audio version tour available.
Audio-guided tour (approx. 45 minutes: Adults: €5 with Normandie Pass €4 Guided tours (approx 90 min) In July and August, guided tour of the battery every Tuesday at 2pm (advance bookings only).
Open Sky Museum at the Tourist Office Ste Mère Eglise
Borrow this GPS video device at the Tourist Office and take a tour through 50km of sites that tell the story of the D-Day Landings around Sainte-Mere-Eglise and Utah Beach. You have 24 hours to enjoy and you can go at your own pace. Extras include testimonies, archives and videos. There are ten stops within the village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. For more info see http://www.sainte-mere-eglise.info/en/
Car parking is free at all the sites except for the Arromanches 360 cinema – charged at 3euro/car (there are however 6 free parking spaces for coaches): http://www.arromanches360.com/en/
Here’s some information on the Normandy pass: http://www.normandiememoire.com/en/content/view/id-104-normandie-pass
William the Conqueror Birth Place
Take modern technology, a tablet, and a very old castle, Chateau Guillaume-le-Conquerant, and you have a brilliant experience and history lesson. This encounter with the 12 century really will bring the castle to life. Everyone gets a tablet and with a bit of magic (you upload info in each area) and youll see a historically accurate recreation of each room. The colours of the lavish interiors are amazing. You can also have guided tours. Although nothing to do with D-Day its uniqueness is well worth a visit in Falaise. www.chateau-guillaume-leconquerant.fr
Car parking is free at all the sites except for the Arromanches 360 cinema – charged at 3euro/car
Information on the Normandy pass: www.normandiememoire.com/en/content/view/id-104-normandie-pass
See here for Normandy Accommodation
Written by Penny McCarthy