Suzanne in France

+33 (0)2 33 48 62 11

D-Day 80th Anniversary – 6th June 2024

This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings. It will be a very special occasion. Having said this, every year is commemorated with numerous events and activities, up and around the D-Day landing beaches and beyond. In fact, anytime is a must see visit to these poignant and beautiful reminders of events that we shall not forget.

All war memorials are kept in spectacular condition not just here in Normandy but across France. Victory in Europe Day (Wednesday 8 May 2024)  is also a Bank Holiday here in France.

Turning back to this year’s commemorations there will be a full schedule of events and, of course, it will be busy, but you can plan your stay by using the very comprehensive Normandie Tourism website. This is a well oiled machine and events are very well organised. There are over 237 events taking place throughout Normandy in May, June and July so you don’t have to limit your visit to the day itself. The official programme is currently in French but it is easy to navigate and pinpoint your interest on the interactive map.

The month of June, unsurprisingly, will the busiest and you may find accommodation is already booked up near to the landing beaches but do not despair there are many, many gîtes dotted all across Normandy in wonderful locations. Yes, it may mean a longer drive to the D-Day Landing beaches but you will also be able to discover other areas of Normandy, that you might not have already visited.

Kicking off the month of June, the Normandie Tourism website says :

“For this very special occasion, Normandy’s ambition is to offer a major family-friendly event, aimed at Normans and visitors alike, who have little or no access to official ceremonies. The date of Saturday 1st June, at nightfall, has been chosen for this event, on the weekend ahead of 6th June. Over 20 huge firework displays will light up the sky simultaneously over the 5 Landing Beaches. A beautiful family-friendly and free event.”

Like so many family friendly days and evenings out (in particular the fêtes nationales) this evening is FREE and it will no doubt prove to be an amazing display.

The Official International Ceremony, lead by President Macron and attended by many heads of states, will be on Thursday 6 June on Omaha Beach. This will be heavily policed and the beaches will be closed off, as will parking within quite a big radius, so unless you can walk, you will not be able to access the beaches on this day. Please do bear this in mind when planning your visit.

During your visit you may feel like you are transported back in time from parades in Sainte-Mère-Eglise, hundreds of parachute jumpers nearby, tanks and people dressed up in full 1940’s attire. With people wearing military costumes whilst mingling in the streets it really is quite a sight to see. There will be singing, dancing and so much going on that you may not know where to start.

As already mentioned, we can thoroughly recommend starting in Sainte-Mère-Eglise. Notably to view the mock American Solider (John Steele) that really did land on the Church steeple and pretend he was dead, as German soldiers patrolled the streets underneath him.

 

There are various military fayres dotted around the area, as too is the place to watch the parachutists jump and land into a nearby field.

In Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, a tiny village, again there will be various free bands and activities and the streets filled with tanks and vehicles of that era.

You can decide on which beaches to visit – Omaha, Juno, Sword, Utah or Arromanches being the most popular. All are set in stunning locations, have museums to visit and amazing statues and sculptures. You will also see French resistance fighters darting around as well as tour groups with their guides and, of course, ex-service men and women that have served time in the military.

There is also an excellent war memorial museum (from the lead up to WWII up to The Cold War) in Caen. This is near the Parc de la Colline aux Oiseaux which are beautiful gardens with a maze, farm animals and a new play area with spider climbing frame for older children and adults alike.

The British War Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer is also a must visit and from May this year there will be a total of 1,475 silhouettes ‘Standing with Giants’ representing the number of fatalities under British command on 6 June 1944.

Then you have Pegasus Bridge – ‘The Bridge Of The Longest Day’ which is explained on their website:-

“The capture of the River Orne bridge at Ranville and the bridge across the Caen Canal at Bénouville is the most famous mission of the airborne division. 180 troops of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, commanded by Major John Howard, captured the bridges after landing in Horsa gliders only metres from their objectives.”

The original bridge was replaced in 1994 but you can still see the old one in the museum on site.

If you want something a little interactive we can highly recommend a visit to the Dead Man’s Corner Museum. Here you can sit in a genuine C-47 aircraft carrier which was built in 1943 and feel what it was like to be dropped into Normandy. A wonderful experience for all the family. Before you enter the plane you are given a briefing by Lieutenant Colonel Wolverton on your mission. A must visit for anyone who has a passion for military events and artefacts.

You can also have a personal tour guide using a a military vehicle around the beaches, one provider of this type of tour says that “they will take you on a trip along the WWII battlefields in Normandy, travel by rural roads, visit some beautiful villages..combined with a picnic or lunch and a visit to a local cider and calvados producer.” How wonderful!

There are various other memorial sites further afield from the landing beaches. For example, at Saint James you have an American cemetery, British cemetery in Bayeux (combine with the Tapestry), an original German look-out point and small American cemetery in Mortain.

Other, not so visited cemeteries in Normandy, include the smallest one – the British Jerusalem War cemetery in Chouain.  The website says:-

“Jerusalem War Cemetery is the smallest Commonwealth cemetery in Normandy containing 47 burials one of which is unidentified, and one Czech grave.

The cemetery is located on the D6 about 9km south of Bayeux just before the D187 near the village of Chouain.”

Another cemetery which is often overlooked is the German one – The German ossuary of Mont d’Huisnes – which is included in the website detailing 10 of the most unexplored places of remembrance (link below).

This is a poignant reminder of all casualties and has, arguably, one of the best viewing points of Mont St Michel.

This could be combined with another less visited cemetery, again in a stunning location, that of the American Military Cemetery in the town of Saint James.

If you fancy something a little different, how about a visit to Le Pointe du Hoc heritage site for some breath-taking scenery and views?

“Captured on the morning of the 6th of June 1944 by Colonel Rudder’s Rangers, the site was also one of key features of the German defensive fortifications. The site reminds us of what an artillery battery was like, with its firing command post, casemates and shelters. Information panels. Free site access, free of charge.”

Finally, if you want to experience some high quality afternoon tea and stay in beautiful accommodation we can highly recommend The Old Amfreville near Sainte-Mère-Eglise. During the German occupation, the farm and its outbuildings housed a 91st Infantry Division officer and the 20 men under his command, who operated a field post office and communication center here. It has been lovingly restored to a beautiful standard by a British couple – David and Alison. David is an ex-army chef and knows everything you need to know about exploring the area.

We hope you enjoyed this post and some of the various sites you can visit,  they are too numerous to mention all of them,  but the Normandy Tourism website has you covered.

 

Parc de la Colline aux Oiseaux

British Normandy Memorial

Pegasus Bridge – The Longest Day

Dead Man’s Corner Museum

Smallest British Cemetery

10 Unexplored Site Of Remembrance

Pointe du Hoc Heritage Site

Normandie Tourism Website

Tour Guide In Military Vehicle

The Old Amfreville Facebook Page

Normandy War Guide Website

 



Share this post

Latest News

A Day Out In Bayeux

Read More