Like so many Americans, I grew up hearing stories of family who severed in "The War". I decided that the right thing to do was to be respectful (also...even though I don't understand a great deal of it, I do love history and I'm always curious about places where things happened) and we headed up to the Cote de Nacre, where the five landing beaches of D-day were. One of the most important places in US History is thousands of miles alway from states.
We chose to go to Omaha beach and work our way along the coastline. It's only a few miles from Bayeux.
This museum was kind of a waste of time- we probably should have done a bit more research as to what was there, as the museum at the American cemetery was much better. Know before you go!
The beach itself is gorgeous. Long, sandy stretch of sand, pristine blue waters, broken by stretches of cliffs. It made for a terribly depressing contrast that those cliffs meant death for so many. It was a military operation where almost nothing went right, yet the few who made it past the cliffs made a huge difference in the outcome of the war.
The US Government maintains the majority of the monuments here, as well as a really somber and beautiful museum.
The museum is on a bluff overlooking the beach. The majority of it is underground, bunker-like, as to not disrupt the landscape.
We both remarked about how very American the whole thing was. After being in France for three months, it became really obvious that this wan't a French engineering job. The USA and their obsession with neat, orderly grass lawns was almost as striking as the enormity of the place. More than 9,000 US soldiers are buried here.
They seem to go on forever in neat endless rows, right on up to the edge of the cliff, looking down at the English channel, now peaceful with sailboats and gulls.
Right outside the cemetery gates is the rebuilt church of Colleville Sur Mare.
Almost all the little seaside towns in this area had been reduced to rubble and rebuilt.
Further east on the coast near Arromanches, we stopped at some bunkers on the cliffs- the Longues-sur-mer Batteries. Huge, long-range guns had ensured the allied ship trouble getting anywhere near the coast.
Now they are surrounded by wheat fields.
Off in the distance, you can see Bayeux Cathedral.
From the cliff, you can see all of Omaha beach right up to Pointe du Hoc, and in the other direction you can see the Gold and Juno beaches where the British and Canadian troops landed.
You can still see the remains of Mullberry Harbor that the British troops put in place to offload equipment.
It's now a peaceful place.
It's now a peaceful place.