Eglise Jeanne d'Arc#8 in Best Things To Do in Normandy
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This modern-looking church sits on the site of Jeanne d'Arc's (or Joan of Arc, to us Yanks) burning. The 19-year-old girl was burned at the stake for heresy in 1431. Today, you can tour this contemporary church built in 1979 (the exterior of which is reminiscent of fish scales) at Place du Vieux-Marche in Rouen. Pay attention to the building's design – the architect, Louis Arretche, wanted it to resemble the shape of an overturned boat.
Recent visitors loved the church's gorgeous stained-glass windows and say it was quite moving to be in the spot where Joan of Arc was killed.
The church is open Monday to Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m. On Friday and Sunday, it's open from 2 to 6 p.m. It is free to enter. For more information, visit the city of Rouen's tourism website.
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#1 D-Day Beaches
World War II's successful Operation Overlord took place on the coast of France. Although there were heavy Allied casualties, this invasion turned the tide in the war and helped lead to the fall of Nazi Germany. Today this piece of coastline, which includes Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches, is collectively known as the D-Day Beaches.
Visitors can tour the approximately 50-mile stretch of sand and pop by a number of museums, memorials and cemeteries that are spread out alongside the coastline either with a tour or on their own. If you're driving yourself, start in the town of Arromanches, which hosts two museums that help provide context for the battle sites. The American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer and the Pointe-du-Hoc bomb craters are also especially moving. If you'd rather let someone else do the driving, recent visitors recommend going with a tour guide to fully appreciate the area's historic importance and receive a comprehensive overview. If you're visiting in June, you'll likely come across several ceremonies and reenactment groups commemorating the anniversary. Thanks to Normandy's unpredictable weather, you'll want to dress in layers (no matter the time of your visit) and bring rain gear, according to past visitors.
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