Things to do in Normandy – Short Break


Normandy is situated on the northern coast of France and is steeped in history. It is most famously associated with the D-Day landings and the Norman Conquest. I have visited the region twice and the following are landmarks and attractions I have seen and would recommend.


Things to do in Normandy – D-Day Landings

The allies landed on five Normandy beaches code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. There are memorials and nearby museums to commemorate the landings on all five beaches. 

Probably the most famous beach is Omaha beach, one of the beaches where American troops landed. This is the D-Day beach landing depicted in the 1998 film ‘Saving Private Ryan’, the 2002 Medal of Honour game and the Call of Duty WWII game of 2017.

It was the landing beach that saw the highest number of casualties – 2400+ were listed as killed, wounded or missing in action.

Omaha Beach Memorial

Omaha beach Sculpture
Designed by Anilore Banon, Les Braves (the Brave), is comprised of three sections:

1. The Wings of Hope which serves as a reminder that the future can be changed when people work together

2. Rise Freedom! to remind us to stand strong in the face of barbarity and inhumanity

3. The Wings of Fraternity is designed as a reminder of our responsibility for others as well as ourselves.

Set back from the beach is a stone sculpture that further commemorates the event.

Omaha Beach second monument


Omaha Beach Promenade

All along the beach promenade there are illustrated plaques with further information about the D-Day Landings and the Battle for Normandy.

There are also numerous paths that weave through the sand dunes which gives a feel of the geographical landscape that faced those that landed. 

About 400 metres east from the Memorial, and set back from the beach, is the remains of a German gun tower with the rusty shell of a machine gun cannon. 


Omaha Beach Museum

There is a small museum, dedicated to D-Day and the Omaha beach landings, a short walk from the beach memorials. Although small, the museum is packed with a lot of information and interesting displays. We spent a good hour here learning about the events of D-Day.


American Cemetery

The American Cemetery is a short distance from Omaha Beach at Colville sur Mer. 

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, serves as a tribute to the American soldiers who lost their lives during the D-Day invasion of World War II.

The Cemetery is sub-divided into the following sections:

The Garden of the Missing: A semi-circular colonnade with the names of over 1,500 American soldiers who went missing in action during the Normandy Campaign.

The Reflecting Pool: A large pool offering a tranquil and reflective space.

American Cemetery Normandy - Two days in Normandy

The Statue of The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves: This powerful bronze statue depicts a young American soldier rising from the water, symbolizing the courage and determination of the troops who stormed the beach.

The Memorial Chapel which offers a place of quiet reflection.

Interred Remains: The graves of 9,300+ American soldiers who died during the Normandy Campaign, most of whom perished during the D-Day landings.


Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge is a significant Battle for Normandy landmark.

Pegasus Bridge Normandy
Securing the Bridge was the primary objective for British soldiers who arrived in six gliders under the cover of darkness on June 5th 1944. The capture of Pegasus Bridge was vital to the success of the entire D-Day mission and it was accomplished in the early hours of June 6th 1944.

The House by the side of the bridge was the first French house to be liberated on D-Day and has now been turned into a café.

Pegasus Bridge Cafe

The Merville Battery

About 5 km to the north-east of Pegasus Bridge, the Merville Battery was a Germany Gun Battery positioned to fire shells on the troops landing on Sword beach. Men of the 6th Airborne Division were given the task of capturing the battery and destroying the guns positioned there.

Although many paratroopers failed to make the rendezvous point, the attack went ahead and the battery was captured. The pictures below show the reinforced concrete battery and a field gun.

Merville Battery

Field Gun,Merville BatteryWe spent some time reading the information boards and looking at the displays. Soon it was time to begin our journey back to Calais and Dover.

To be continued

Short Break in Normandy – top things to do

In alphabetical order:

American Cemetery
Merville Battery
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach Museum
Pegasus Bridge