Introduction to Utah Beach
Utah Beach is the most westerly of the landing beaches and lies on the Cotentin Peninsula. It is an extensive stretch of coastline; going from the beach beyond the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont north to the beach at Quinéville.
It’s separated from the other D-Day beaches by extensive marshes known as les marais. These wetlands caused problems for the American airborne troops as they parachuted into the area behind the coast. An iconic symbol of the difficulties faced is the effigy of a paratrooper on the church spire at Sainte-Mère-Eglise. Furthermore, the seaborne assault didn’t go to plan with the majority of the American forces coming ashore a couple of miles south of the designated zone. However, this error worked in their favour, as the soldiers setting foot on French soil here met with relatively little resistance.
If you approach Utah Beach from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont along the D913, you’ll pass a leadership monument to Major Richard Winters on the left hand side and a monument to Danish soldiers further along on the right hand side. If you approach from the north via the D421 coast road, near the village of Saint-Martin-de-Varreville is the monument of the landing of the 2nd Armoured Division. Parking is available near to the D-Day Landing Museum (Musée du Débarquement Utah Beach). In the area around the museum are the following monuments: US Navy monument, Higgins Boat monument, 1st Engineer Special Brigade monument and also an M4 Sherman tank.
The video below takes you on a tour of the area around the museum taking in the monuments and the beach. Towards the end of the video there’s then an insight into the museum displays.
Musée du Débarquement. Utah Beach (La Madeleine)
Located right beside the beach where so many American forces came ashore on 6th June, this museum retraces chronologically and clearly how D-Day was planned and executed. There’s a moving documentary film to watch, ‘Victory in the Sand’, oral testimonies and a B-26 Marauder bomber.
Visit the website here.
This short video gives an overview of some of the artifacts and equipment on display.
Airborne Museum (Musée Airborne) at Sainte-Mère-Eglise
This major museum is dedicated to American paratroopers on D-Day . Along with the classic presentation of the airborne operations, a new wing of the museum plunges visitors into an intense sensory experience of the war. You can find out more information here.
D-Day Experience and Dead Man’s Corner Museums at Saint-Côme-du-Mont
These two museums are tributes to the airborne troops. The house at Dead Man’s Corner was originally the headquarters of the German paratroopers and now contains artifacts to recount it’s history. Immediately behind it is a large interactive museum where you can re-enact the airborne arrival into Normandy on board an authentic C-47 converted into a high-tech flight-simulator. Visit the website here.
Normandy Victory Museum in Catz near Carentan
This museum opened in May 2017 and is dedicated to the events of the summer of 1944 in the Cotentin. The museum’s website is here.
Azeville Gun Battery
Located 7km to the north east of Sainte-Mère-Église, this battery built in 1941, is one of the first buildings of the Atlantic Wall in France. You can read information about the battery in French. Or you can read the Trip Advisor reviews here.
A 12th century church with beautiful D-Day themed stained glass windows. On the church spire an effigy of a paratrooper pays hommage to John Steele. Read more about the church here.
Airship Hanger at Écausseville
More information about the hanger is on the website.
Marcouf 44 – Museum of the Crisbecq Battery Command Post
Information about the battery is here.
Crisbecq Gun Battery Museum
Discover one of the most important German artillery batteries of the Atlantic Wall. There’s more information on this website.
WW2 Museum at Quinéville
This museum transports you back to life during World War 2. Stroll down a reconstructed street from the 1940s with houses and shops furnished with artifacts from the World War 2 era. Visit the website for details.
German military cemetery at Orglandes
Located to the west of Sainte-Mère-Église between Valognes and Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, this cemetery has 10,152 graves.