When Tipsy and I went to France, we agreed that it was totally worth it to take a couple of days and leave Paris to check out Normandy. To be fair, I spent a summer in Caen studying and used that to convince her it was going to be amazing! We took the train up to Caen from Paris and then hired a car to go to the Normandy beaches. There was another near-death experience here when an 18-wheeler (or lorry as they call it here in the UK) didn’t allow us to merge and we nearly collided with them. But that’s neither here nor there.
From Caen we headed to Colleville-sur-Mer to see the American Cemetery and Omaha beach. It was eerie to be on Omaha beach where so many lost their lives and today it is one of the most serene places I’ve visited. I made Tipsy close her eyes as we walked up towards the cemetery so that she was hit with the full effect of it. It is truly sad to see so many little white headstones, all facing Arlington, Virginia (the site of the National Cemetery). Walking through the cemetery, it’s surprising to see how many unknown graves there are. We took a few moments thinking of that poor family, always wondering what happened to their loved one.
After the cemetery and Omaha beach, we drove up to Arromanches-les-Bains (more easily called, Arromanches) to see Gold Beach and the cinéma circulaire (Arromanches 360). The cinéma circulaire is a really cool place. It shows a video of the 100 days of the Battle of Normandy (Les 100 jours de Normandie) with video and audio from the archives of all of the Allied forces that participated in the liberation of Normandy following D-Day (Jour-J). The video screen spans the walls of the circular screen, giving you a 360-degree experience. Which can be slightly overwhelming at moments, but it is honestly so cool. After the video, we walked down to Arromanches to see the beach and the remainders of the invasion by the Allied forces. Then we had the most French picnic at one of the picnic tables outside the cinéma – a baguette, some Pont L’Évêque cheese, some fruit and some charcuterie. We were such happy girls!
We then spent the afternoon in Caen at the Mémorial de Caen, which is an AMAZING museum of D-Day( and World War 2, in general). Tipsy was even surprised with how much she enjoyed the Mémorial. We easily could have spent like an entire day there soaking everything in. If you’re in Normandy, (and you have even the slightest interest in WW2 history) then you should definitely check out this museum.
We bought tickets that allowed entry to the Mémorial and the cinéma cirulaire for €21.50. If both things interest you, that’s definitely the way to go! The Mémorial is usually €19.50 and the cinéma circulaire is normally €5.50. We also agreed that renting a car was the best option for getting to the beaches, and was ridiculously cheap in comparison with the bus trips we found (which had been completely booked for weeks before our trip).
Have you been to the Normandy beaches? Which ones did you see? Did you go to the museum in Caen?