The Caen Memorial is a museum located in Caen, in the region of Normandy. The Caen Memorial offers a very excellent Normandy D-Day tour starting with your arrival on the train from Paris.
Established in 1988, the Caen Memorial has tried to show how an understanding of the world creates a better knowledge of its history. Its paths take you right to the heart of the 20th Century history, both before and after 1945. An ambitious layout leads the visitor on a journey through history and a reflection on the future. The Caen Memorial also attempts to demonstrate the demands and fragility of peace and human rights.
Built on the site of an old bunker, the Caen Memorial was inaugurated on June 6, 1988 (the 44th anniversary of D-Day) by President François Mitterrand. It was later expanded by President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The Caen Memorial provides a thought-provoking meditation on the evils of war, the importance of learning from past failures and successes, and the difficulty but necessity of finding lasting peace.
The museum traces the collapse of peace in the '30s and the outbreak of World War II through film footage, static displays, and information panels. The museum also has sections on the Cold War and 21st century terrorism. There are memorial gardens, anti-violence sculptures, and two rusted girders from the Twin Towers. Truly the Caen Memorial museum wishes to be a museum of peace.
You can book a D-Day tour to include a visit to the Caen Memorial. A Paris Travel can arrange a tour for you to visit the Caen Memorial and to also discover the D-Day sites of Normandy. There is a bus tour to Normandy which visits the Caen Memorial as well as a minivan tour from Paris. You can also take a train to Normandy and be met when you arrive by train. From there you will begin your Normandy tour by first visiting the Caen Memorial. There are many ways to enjoy a tour to Normandy.
A Paris Travel is a full service tour operator and will help you with your travel plans for France.
Source: Sacred Destinations: an online travel guide to sacred sites
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is situated on a cliff, 131 feet (40 meters) above the English Channel, 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) west of Omaha Beach. It was here on June 6, 1944, D-Day morning where Lt. Colonel James Earl Rudder led an assault by elements of the American Second Ranger Battalion on a German gun battery that had five, 155 millimeter guns protecting Omaha and Utah beaches.
The Rangers scaled the cliff only to find that the Germans had moved the guns because of the heavy allied bombings on this position. The Rangers later found the guns about .15 miles (250 meters) inland from Point du Hoc and disabled them.
Today the site is still pocked with large craters left from the allied bombing runs that lead up to D-Day, and from the shelling from the 14 inch guns of the U.S. Battleship Texas on D-Day morning. Huge chunks of concrete litter the site because of the hits the German gun casements took from the allied bombing and shelling.
A raised observation platform provides good views for visitors to the site. The Ranger Monument located at the edge of the cliff has been re-opened after the completion of the cliff-side restoration project completed in October 2010.
Source: Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day June 6, 1994: The Climatic Battle of World War II. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. 1994
This cemetery covers 172.5 acres and is situated directly above Omaha Beach. It is one of fourteen permanent American World War II cemeteries located outside the United States. The land was given to the U.S. by the government of France without charge or taxation.
There are 9,387 of our military men and women buried there. Most of those lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. Three hundred and seven are Unknowns (whose remains could not be identified), three are Medal of Honor recipients, and four are women. A Star of David marks the graves of those of Jewish faith and a Latin cross all others. The stones face West…towards America.
On the Walls of the Missing are the names of 1,557 soldiers.
Of additional interest at the American Cemetery are the following:
Visitors Center: Dedicated in 2007. “The center allows us to better tell the courageous and inspiring story of those buried at Normandy American Cemetery," said General Frederick M. Franks, Jr., USA (Ret), American Battle Monuments Commission Chairman. "The center provides a fuller array of visitor services to put the D-Day landings in perspective as one of the greatest military achievements in history."
Colonnade with battle maps engraved in stone and embellished with colored enamels and in the center, a 22-foot bronze statue “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.”
The Chapel in the graves area is made of Vaurion limestone, granite, and with an altar of black and gold Pyrenees Grand Antique marble with the inscription “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH.”
The plantings: The cemetery is surrounded on the East, South and West by heavy masses of Austrian pine, interspersed with Laurel, Cypress and Holly oak. The lawn areas of the Garden of the Missing are bordered with beds of polyanthus roses, while Elm trees grow in the lawn areas.
Source: American Battle Monuments Commission
The village of Arromanches is situated at the location of Gold Beach, one of the beaches where British troops landed on D-Day.
The Mulberry Harbor was built at Arromanches and was the inspiration of Sir Winston Churchill who knew that there needed to be a way for thousands of troops, supplies, and reinforcements to be delivered for the allied soldiers landing in Normandy.
Winston Churchill had the foresight to recognize the need for the creation of an artificial harbor in Normandy. He knew that the thousands of troops landing on the beaches of France could only carry enough supplies (food, bullets, fuel, etc.) for a few days. Since the Allies were not planning to invade any of the major existing ports on the northern coast of France, the troops would suffer without reinforcement of supplies.
In the days immediately following D-Day, the Allies sunk several old ships in order to form a breakwater. The cement blocks which had been towed across the Channel at 6 km/hour as the invasion began became the Mulberry Harbor and protected the landings of 2,5000,000 men and 500,000 vehicles.
There were two Mulberry Harbors, Mulberry A and B. The one at Arromanches was Mulberry B. Mulberry A was located near Omaha Beach. A storm two weeks after D-Day destroyed Mulberry A and damaged Mulberry B.
Source: Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day June 6, 1994: The Climatic Battle of World World II. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. 1994