Normandy’s Arromanches D Day Garden

D-Day sculpture

The recently installed Arromanches D Day garden pays tribute to the veterans of the Battle of Normandy. The garden is known as D-Day 75 Garden and was first exhibited at the RHS Chelsea Garden Show in May 2019.

D Day 75th anniversary

It was officially opened at its new permanent site in Arromanches on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It now overlooks Mulberry Harbour and Gold Beach, which is one of the five D-Day landing beaches.

Arromanches D Day garden

 

Bill Pendell was chosen to represent the veterans although sadly he passed away aged 97 in December 2018. In 1944 Bill landed on Gold Beach aged 22. With his family’s blessing, two sculptures of him have been included in the garden.

Arromanches D Day garden

At the entrance to the garden, Bill sits on a stone plinth wearing his medals and beret. He looks across at another sculpture of his younger self about to land on D-Day. Four further sculptures of soldiers show them wading through the waves as they navigate the obstacles on Gold Beach.

Arromanches

D-Day sculpture

 

The sculpture of 97 year old Bill is carved from a single block of Millstone Grit. And the young soldiers opposite are constructed from thousands of individually welded metal washers.

Arromanches D Day 75 garden

75 years separates these two scenes. Visitors are invited to consider how it must have felt for veterans to reflect on the intense experiences they endured on D-Day and the days that followed.

D Day 75 garden

The photos probably don’t do it justice. It is hauntingly beautiful. There’s a fluidity to the sculptures of the young soldiers as if they’re there but not there. I found it incredibly emotive.

D Day

The Arromanches D Day garden was designed by John Everiss and in the video below you can learn more about how the sculptures were made. Also there’s more information about the project on the D-Day Revisited website.

Where To Find The Garden

It’s right next to the 360 Circular Museum in Arromanches. You can access it via rue Calvaire. There is paid parking next to the museum or you can park in the town and walk up the hill to the cliff top.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

A Normandy D-Day Poem

D-Day poem

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6th June, I wanted to share this poem to honour the veterans.

WHO ARE THESE MEN?
Who are these men who march so proud,
Who quietly weep, eyes closed, head bowed?
These are the men who once were boys,
Who missed out on youth and all its joys.
Who are these men with aged faces,
Who silently count the empty spaces?
These are the men who gave their all,
Who fought for their country for freedom for all.
Who are these men with sorrowful look
Who can still remember the lives that were took?
These are the men who saw young men die,
The price of peace is always high.
Who are these men who in the midst of pain,
Whispered comfort to those they would not see again?
These are the men whose hands held tomorrow,
Who brought back our future with blood tears and sorrow.
Who are these men who promise to keep
Alive in their hearts the ones God holds asleep?
These are the men to whom I promise again:
‘Veterans’, my friends – I will remember them!

A beautiful poem written by Jodie Johnson in 1996 when she was 11.

D-Day poem

This year the commemorations are very high profile with dignitaries from all over the world attending events. Normandy is also welcoming many veterans and/or their families this week.

If you’re anywhere from Cherbourg to Mont-Saint-Michel on the afternoon of Friday 7th June you might be lucky enough to see a fly-past by 4 Dakota aircraft. The Dakotas will be following the Voie de la Liberté which is the route taken by the American troops as they advanced south after D-Day. They’ll take off from Cherbourg-Maupertus airport at 13.41 and will arrive at Huisnes-sur-Mer at 15.00 which is just south of Mont-Saint-Michel. At each of the following towns they will circle before heading onto the next destination: Cherbourg, Valognes, Sainte-Mère-Église, Utah Beach, Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont, St-Lô, Villedieu-les-Poêles, Avranches, Pontorson. Huisnes-sur-Mer is the resting place of almost 12,000 German soldiers who died during the Battle of Normandy. The video below shows the route and the expected times of the Dakotas.

 

D-Day In La Manche Region of Normandy

D-Day in La Manche

This week Normandy is hosting a whole range of events to commemorate D-Day. Four of the D-Day landing beaches are in the department of Calvados while the fifth is located in La Manche region.

D-Day in La Manche

In La Manche region the key locations are Carentan, Sainte-Mère-Église and Utah Beach. The full calendar of events in Normandy can be found here.

Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy

This website (in French) gives an overview of the road closures and traffic restrictions for the D-Day events in La Manche. This includes Carentan on the 5th, Utah Beach on the 6th and Sainte-Mère-Église on the 9th. There is no windscreen sticker system in place (there is in Calvados on the 6th) but it is inevitably going to be very busy.

Utah Beach was the landing beach where American troops landed. There is a museum overlooking Utah Beach and it will be open on the 6th. Sainte-Mère-Église is home to the Airborne Museum that honours the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The museum is across the square from the church where an effigy of a paratrooper hangs.

Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy

 

D-Day Events In Normandy

D-Day

In just over a week Normandy will welcome veterans, veterans families, dignitaries and tourists for D-Day. Throughout the region there will be events galore to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6th June.

D-Day D-Day D-Day D-Day

 

Some events have already started and you can check out the programme of events here.

Alternatively, have a read of the Normandy Tourist Board’s visitor guide in PDF format.

The Events

The events will be impressive and emotional at the same time. One of the most ambitious events has to be Daks over Normandy. In 1944 the airborne assault on Normandy was formed by over 800 Douglas C-47 Dakotas. The UK and Normandy skies will be filled with Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakotas and hundreds of Paratroopers. The event will be held in two locations: from 2 to 5 June at Duxford Airfield in the United Kingdom and from 5 to 9 June at Caen Carpiquet Airport in Normandy. Around 250 men and women will board the aircraft in the United Kingdom, fly across the English Channel and to jump into the historic Normandy drop zones. Have a look at the video below.

 

 

Traffic Restrictions in Normandy

There will be some traffic restrictions in place on 6th June around the landing beaches, Bayeux and Caen. More information is here.

D-Day events in Normandy
A map showing the restriction zone for vehicles on 6th June in Normandy

 

Ranville war cemetery
There will also be local events away from the Normandy beaches. Coutances will be commemorating D-Day with an event on 6th June. There will be a ceremony at the cemetery at 6pm followed by mass in the cathedral at 7.30pm. An exhibition of D-Day related photos will also be launched and will run until 6th September. The large-scale photos will be dotted around the town. The cathedral and two churches escaped relatively unscathed during the war although many buildings surrounding them were destroyed.

A series of three guided tours will start the following week. They’re free and you don’t need to book. Meet on Wednesday 12 June, 11am at Roncey church to hear how the Germans were surrounded by the Allies. On Wednesday 19 June at 11am, the story of the destruction of the Pont de la Roque will be told at Heugeville-sur-Sienne. British troops dropped bombs on the bridge to prevent German reinforcements advancing towards the landing beaches. Finally, on Wednesday 26th June you can learn about Coutances reconstruction after the bombings. Meet at 11am at the Quesnel-Morinière museum courtyard. The tours will be in French.

D-Day was just the start of the Battle of Normandy and the fight to liberate Europe. However, some events will continue throughout the summer. The memorials, the cemeteries, the museums and the spirit of those who sacrificed their lives for our liberty will always be here in Normandy. Lest We Forget.

For a guide to the D-Day beaches, read this guide and watch the video below for an overview of some of the D-Day sites.

Top 3 Omaha Beach Places To Visit

Normandy American Cemetery

If I had to choose my top 3 Omaha Beach places to visit I’d opt for La Pointe du Hoc, the Normandy American Cemetery and Les Braves. In just over 7 weeks time Normandy will be hosting events for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

I visited these 3 Omaha Beach spots in February 2018 on a chilly but sunny day. I wanted blue sky for the photos I was going to take and I wasn’t disappointed. Rather than visit a museum, I chose 2 places where there were visitor centres. This gave me a real feel for the challenges that the American troops faced at Omaha Beach.

Normandy American Cemetery

It took me around an hour to drive to Omaha Beach. I started my day at La Pointe du Hoc. It’s between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. You can read about my visit here. I genuinely felt as if history came to life as I walked around this battle site.

D-Day

 

Next on my list was Les Braves. This beautiful steel sculpture is on the beach just beyond the memorial. Again, the clock seemed to roll back as I thought about the men who lost their lives on this beach. My review is here and includes a video of the beach.

D-Day

My final stop was the Normandy American Cemetery. The visitor centre is very informative and the cemetery itself is unforgettable. It is beautifully maintained and a fitting tribute to those for whom Normandy is their final resting place. The drone footage in my review article shows the extent of the site.

Normandy American Cemetery Normandy American Cemetery

 

It is still one of the most memorable days I’ve had in Normandy. I can still recall the emotion I felt as I visited each of these 3 amazing sites. Time now stands still for these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

For more information about Omaha Beach visit this page.

British Memorial On Sword Beach

British memorial on Sword Beach

There are a number of memorials on Sword Beach stretching from Ouistreham in the East to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer in the West.

British memorial on Sword Beach

This British memorial on Sword Beach is dedicated to the following commando units of the 1st Special Service Brigade:

No. 3 Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Peter Young
No. 4 Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dawson
177 French Marine Commandos from No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, commanded by Commandant Philippe Kieffer
No. 6 Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Derek Mills-Roberts
No. 45 (Royal Marine) Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ries

British memorial on Sword Beach

The 1st Special Service Brigade was a commando brigade of the British Army. It was formed during the Second World War and consisted of elements of the British Army (including British Commandos) and the Royal Marines. On 6 December 1944, the Brigade was redesignated 1st Commando Brigade.

British memorial on Sword Beach

The commando units landed here on D-Day, 6th June 1944. You can find the memorial at 15 Boulevard Maritime in Colleville-Montgomery. It’s at the intersection of rue Vauban and looks out onto Sword Beach.

For more information about Sword Beach visit this page.

The Normandy Airborne Museum

Normandy Airborne Museum

The Museum

The Normandy Airborne Museum is located in Sainte-Mère-Église’s square just opposite the church. An effigy of American paratrooper John Steele hangs on the church spire. The museum pays tribute to the paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division. The paratroopers landed in Sainte-Mère-Église on the night of the 5th June and into the early hours of the morning of D-Day. From the invasion preparations in England through the battles for liberation, meet the Airborne troops and accompany them on their heroic journey to victory in Normandy.

Normandy Airborne Museum

Reviews

See one of the many excellent reviews below.

Normandy Airborne Museum

Alternatively, you can read more TripAdvisor reviews here.

Normandy Airborne Museum
Practical Information

Address: 14 Rue Eisenhower, 50480 Sainte-Mère-Église

Phone: 02 33 41 41 35

The website for the museum is here.

The museum is open every day.

May to August : 9:00am – 7:00pm.
April and September : 9:30am – 6:30pm.
October to March : 10:00am – 6:00 pm
The last ticket sales are one hour before closing.

The museum is closed in December and January except during Christmas Holidays. Additionally, it is closed on 24th, 25th and 31st December and 1st January.

However, animals are not allowed (except in a closed carrying bag).

Normandy Airborne MuseumThere are 4 different buildings to explore and also activity books for children to help them learn about D-Day. In May 2018, ipads were introduced in order to give visitors an interactive experience.

Videos And Additional Information

Watch the video below demonstrating how the iPads work.

This video with French and English titles gives a short overview of some of the sights you’ll be able to see.

Finally, for an in-depth guide about the D-Day landing sites you can visit this page.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

A Year Of Photos in Normandy

A visit to Mont-Saint-Michel

One of the highlights of being a holiday home owner is exploring the area I live in and sharing it with guests. I love heading out with my camera and taking photos of the area so I’ve had a scroll through my photo album to remind myself what I’ve been up to this year.

Normandy In Photos

In January the Normandy weather wasn’t that wonderful but I did have a drive to a village around 20 minutes away called Regnéville-sur-mer where there’s a ruined chateau and great views across the river.

Regnéville chateau Regnéville

I made two trips to the D-Day landing beaches in February; firstly to Omaha Beach and La Pointe du Hoc and later in the month to Utah Beach and Sainte-Mère-Église. There aren’t really enough words to explain this – it simply was amazing. Both days were cold but sunny with clear blue skies. It was probably the highlight of my year.

D-Day D-Day D-Day D-Day

I’ve subsequently added a very comprehensive guide to the D-Day landing beaches and surrounding areas. You can read it here.

In April I went back to the Omaha Beach area as I had a couple of volunteers staying and one of them had American heritage. I also stopped off at the Peace Statue near Grandcamp Maisy.

D-Day

There was also a quick trip to Bayeux – somewhere I never tire of visiting.

D-Day Bayeux tapestry Bayeux Bayeux Cathedral

April and May were spent working in the garden. I also took a guided tour around Regnéville which was delightful on a sunny day.

June involved trips to Omaha (yes, that was the third time already that year), Bayeux and a wonderful day out to St Malo. Read my in-depth article about the key sites in Bayeux.

Normandy American Cemetery Normandy American Cemetery

St Malo
St Malo ramparts

Saint-Malo

I also visited a partly restored castle in Pirou and had a wonderful morning exploring.

Pirou Pirou

The Marché Normand takes place in Gavray every July. The main street is blocked off and there are parades of tractors, cows, classic cars and people in traditional Normandy costumes. Dancing displays and music also entertain the crowds and the usual Saturday market is bigger than usual. It’s a lovely atmosphere.

Marché Normand in Gavray Marché Normand in Gavray

Later that month my family came over and stayed twice. We had our usual trip to Granville on a rather windy day.

Granville

August passed me by but as it’s peak gite season I would have been up to my ears in laundry I guess. I did manage a trip to Villedieu-les-Poêles to explore the courtyards where artisans such as coppersmiths and lacemakers worked.

September was full of history and heritage. I had a trip to a water mill near to Cherbourg and also the Chateau de Carneville.

Réthoville water mill Normandy history and heritage

Later that month was a heritage weekend when many places are open free to charge. I went to Hambye Abbey and then up towards Saint-Sauveur Le Vicomte to visit the castle and abbey. The following day I visited the Chateau at Gratot (near Coutances) and one of the churches in Coutances.

Photos of Normandy Photos of Normandy

Chateau Gratot St Sauveur Le Victomte

Abbey St Sauveur Le Vicomte Chateau Gratot

In October I visited Granville – both the high town and also had afternoon tea in the main town.

The first Sunday in the month from November through to March means that entry to the abbey at Mont Saint Michel is free. The weather was lovely and sunny and the tide was out so a perfect opportunity to take more photos of my favourite place. I’ve written about how to make the most of a visit to Mont-Saint-Michel here.

 

Mont-Saint-Michel ramparts
Mont-Saint-Michel ramparts
Salle des Chevaliers at Mont-Saint-Michel
Salle des Chevaliers at Mont-Saint-Michel

In December I went to see the son et lumière show on the exterior of Coutances Cathedral. It’s the first time this event has been put on and I really enjoyed it.

So, that’s been my year in Normandy in photos. I hope that my guests have enjoyed discovering Normandy as much as I have. As we approach the end of the year, I’d like to wish you the most amazing 2019. May it be peaceful, happy and healthy.

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

The D Day Landing Beaches in Normandy

D-Day

The Normandy D Day landing beaches will be at the top of many travel bucket lists for 2019. The 6th June 2019 will commemorate 75 years since D-Day took place. The video below gives an overview of the events and planning leading up to D-Day and what happened on the 6th June 1944.

There were five landing beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Utah and Omaha were tackled by American troops while the Canadians took Juno and British troops battled on Gold and Sword.

D-Day

D-Day D-Day Normandy American Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D-Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the majority of the activity took places on these beaches, throughout Normandy there are museums, cemeteries, memorials, monuments and sites such as bunkers, batteries and bridges to visit.

This article looks at each of the beaches and the surrounding area in turn. Key sites are highlighted and photos as well as videos explain how to make the most of your time in more detail. There is a separate page for each of the beaches.

Visiting the D-Day sites is extremely poignant. For D Day enthusiasts and for first-time visitors, there’s something for everyone here as history comes to life.

For more D Day information visit this website.

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

A Visit To Caen Memorial Museum

Caen Memorial Museum

An Introduction to Caen Memorial Museum

The Caen Memorial Museum, Centre for History and Peace (Le Mémorial de Caen) is built on a blockhouse used by German troops during the Second World War. The bunker has recently been opened up as part of the museum. There’s a lot to see here and a minimum of half a day is recommended but to immerse yourself fully you can spend a full day here. The museum covers the events leading up to the  Second World War and how the conflict unfolded. There’s also a section on the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. Visitors can also learn about other conflicts such as the Cold War and the Vietnam War. If you are visiting Normandy to explore some of the D-Day landing sites, the museum is a very good place to start.

The video below will give you a very good overview of what you can see and do during your visit.

You can download an app, purchase an audio guide or, alternatively,  just wander round watching films, reading display boards, looking at exhibits and photographs. History will come to life before you as you walk through the decades of conflict since the Second World War.

Practical Information

The museum is open 7 days a weeks although check opening times on the website. It closes for part of January and opening times differ throughout the year. From April through to September it’s open from 9am to 7pm. There’s plenty of free parking together with a restaurant, snack bar, gift shop as well as various places to sit throughout the museum. Information about the snack bar and restaurant is here. It costs 19,80€ for a single ticket but family tickets cost 51€. A family ticket allows 2 adults and at least one child (under 18) entry although there’s no limit on the number of children. If you want to see other Normandy sites such as Arromanches 360 circular cinema or Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg (a nautical and maritime museum), then there are packages available for joint tickets.

How To Get There

Caen Memorial Museum

The museum is on Esplanade Général Eisenhower, 14050 Caen

GPS N 49° 20′ 24″ – O 00° 37′ 16″

By car: coming from Paris on the A13 or from Rennes on the A84, take the Northbound ringroad (périphérique), exit n°7

By bus: no.2 from the city centre. Easy access for disabled people.

There is access as well as facilities for people with reduced mobility.

For more information visit the museum website.

A Review

The Caen Memorial Museum ranks as the number one activity in Caen on TripAdvisor with over 3,700 reviews. The review below is a typical visitor experience.

Caen memorial museum