Bayeux, France Travel Guide

Normandy France

Location:

Bayeux, France

Date:

End of September

Weather:

The weather was great. I would definitely recommend traveling during this time. It was pleasant, a little chilly in the evening but great during the day.  

Traveled With/Met Traveling:

Family

Accommodations:

We stayed in the cutest Airbnb in Commes (right outside Bayeux) it was a renovated farmhouse right next to a castle. 

Bayeux

Interesting Information: 

To really appreciate the D-Day beaches, avoid visiting at high tide. 

Favorite Food/Drinks: 

 Les Pieds Dans L'eau

Highlights/Memories:

The main reason we came to this area was to do our own World War II history tour. I did a lot of research on the different companies who offer these tours and the routes they use but we decided to do our own self guided tour so we could spend as much time as we wanted at each location. We ended up putting our own route together but pretty closely followed the route Rick Steves recommends.  

We did the tour by car, and this is the route we followed:

  • Aromanches - We began our tour at the cliffs about, this was ground zero for D-Day Invasion
    • Port Winston Artificial Harbor
      • Best seen from two vantage points - above town on the bluff (with the Arromanches 360 degree theater behind you) and from the seawall in town (near the D-Day landing Museum)
      • View from the bluff: To the left is the American sector, with Omaha Beach and then Utah Beach, below to the right are the British and Canadian sectors.
    • Arromanches 360 Theater has a very powerful film "Normandy’s 100 Days". The screens surrounding you show actual footage and photographs of the endeavor to liberate Normandy. It was great and I would definitely recommend it. 
    • D-Day Landing Museum and nearby viewing area
      • We heard this was a good museum, but there are better ones so we didn't have time to go inside the museum. We did go down to the museum to get a good view of the Port Winston Artifical  Harbor.
  • D-514 is the coastal road that links all of the sights below, you just keep heading west.
    • Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery (4 German casemates, with three guns still intact, built to guard against seaborne attacks)
      • Free and always open it is a good spot for a picnic
      • Port-en-Bessin - a charming fish port with a historic harbor
      • Big Red One Museum - a roadside warehouse filled with D-Day artifacts. One of the small D-Day museums, the owner has been gathering items for this museum for over 30 years.
    • WWII Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
      • Free, daily from 9:00-5:00 (guided tours during high season, call to see if there are tours)
      • Visitors Center - this prepares you for your visit plan to spend at least 1.5 hours at this site.
      • Bluff Overlooking Omaha Beach - Walk through the park to a bluff overlooking the piece of Normandy beach called “that embattled shore, the portal of freedom”. Looking at the beach it is hard to imagine the terrible bloodshed that happened on June 6, 1944.
      • Memorial and Garden of the Missing - Overlooking the cemetery is a soaring statue memorial. This represents the “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” Behind is the Garden of the Missing, this has the names of 1,557 soldiers whose remains were never found. If there is a bronze rosette next to a name, it indicates the soldier’s body was eventually recovered.
      • Cemetery - Just above Omaha Beach, 9,386 brilliant white, marble tombstones honor and remember the Americans who gave their lives on the beaches below to free Europe.
    • Omaha Beach
      • Omaha Beach Memorial Museum – most people can skip this museum as there are better museums but there is a “Czech hedgehog” on display in the parking lot. Thousands of these were placed on the beaches by the Germans to stop the Allies from being able to land on the beach.
      • Omaha Beach Viewpoint
        • Memorial Statues – these are at the center of Omaha Beach
        • Beachfront Drive – Drive down the beach about 200 yards and you will come to a small memorial which marks the site of the first temporary American cemetery. Drive until you reach the Hotel du Casino, there is a wharf stretching out and at the base you’ll find a couple of battlements and monuments.
      • National Guard Memorial - the 29th Infantry Division one of the American Assault units that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
  • Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument
    • Free, open from 9:00 – 5:00. Typically most crowded in the afternoons.
    • Visitors Center – Watch the film that explains the ranger mission that took place here.
    • Follow the path through the massive craters, which were left behind from the bombs, and explore the remaining bunkers.
    • Dagger Memorial - The memorial represents the Ranger dagger, which was used to help them scale the cliffs.
    • Viewing the Platform – Climb to the top of this platform to truly appreciate what it took for this mission to succeed.
  • Utah Landing Museum – Best Museum on the D-Day Beaches
    • Open 9:30 – 7:00
  • Utah Beach - Hike up to the bluff, which is lined with monuments to the different branches of military service that participated in the fight.
  • Ste-Mere Eglise - This was the first village to be liberated by the Americans.
    • Rent an audio guide from the Tourist Information office in the town square. This has great information and allows you to discover the town and the different D-Day sites in the area on your own.
      • Open 9:00-1:00/2:00-6:00
      • 3 hour driving tour of the region which links all of the D-Day sites in the area
    • Airbone Museum - dedicated to the aerial landings that were key to the success of D-Day
      • Open 9:30 – 6:30
    • D-Day Experience - You get to experience a simulation of what it would be like to be a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division
      • Open 9:30 – 7:00
    • Bayeux Tapestry – This tapestry is thought to date back to the 11th century. It is 70 yards of wool embroidered onto linen cloth which depicts the Norman conquest of England
    • Bayeux Cathedral rises above the town and is beautifully illuminated after dark.
    • Riverwalk – walk along the beautiful path that follows the Aure River through Bayeux

Recommendations For Next Time:

Most of our time was dedicated to World War II history, which was great, but I wish we were able to spend more time in Bayeux. Definitely make sure you give yourself enough time to stroll through and enjoy this charming town.

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