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The massive assault and the sheer enormity (and impossibility) of the D-Day landings in June of 1944 are incomprehensible without seeing the land and sea where it all happened. Taken as a beautiful stretch of coastline, where towering cliffs give way to long golden-sand beaches, it is one of Europe’s loveliest coastlines, and would be worth seeing for that alone. But to follow the history of those terrible hours in the museums, memorials, bunkers, cemeteries — and to stand atop the cliffs and dunes themselves — offers one of the world’s rarest chances to understand a great moment in history. It is impossible to come away unmoved, but the ...

The massive assault and the sheer enormity (and impossibility) of the D-Day landings in June of 1944 are incomprehensible without seeing the land and sea where it all happened. Taken as a beautiful stretch of coastline, where towering cliffs give way to long golden-sand beaches, it is one of Europe’s loveliest coastlines, and would be worth seeing for that alone. But to follow the history of those terrible hours in the museums, memorials, bunkers, cemeteries — and to stand atop the cliffs and dunes themselves — offers one of the world’s rarest chances to understand a great moment in history. It is impossible to come away unmoved, but the warm-hearted welcome the local people give American, Canadian and British tourists there, and the emphasis of the museums and memorials on the everyday life of the French during the German occupation brings warmth and even humor to the Normandy beaches. It remains perhaps the world’s greatest memorial to heroism and to fallen heroes. For a general overview and interpretation of the events that took place here, begin at the excellent new interactive museum, Memorial Caen.

Juliette Rogers
About the Expert

Juliette Rogers is coauthor of the guidebooks Eating New England: A Food Lovers Guide to Eating Locally, Secret Providence and Newport, and two Thomas Cook guides on France.

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Juliette Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Normandy beaches are located on the coast of Northern France and they are divided into 5 sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Normandy | Normandy
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and fall have the best weather without being as crowded as in summer. In June, memorial observances bring veterans groups, families of those lost here and other tours.