Mémorial de Caen#12 in Best Things To Do in Normandy
This museum details events leading up to WWII as well as its decadeslong aftermath, with exhibits ranging from photos and documents charting the Nazi's rise to power in the 1930s, to life before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A tabletop map shows the location of the D-Day landings and a split-screen presentation of the D-Day invasion from both the Allied and Nazi standpoints gives a good overview. A 17-minute film, called "Europe Our History," is shown in a 360-degree theater and included with admission. Outside, you'll find three gardens dedicated to the memory of the Resistance fighters and Allied soldiers who died in Normandy.
Recent visitors appreciated the comprehensive and educational way the museum covers the war. Others said a visit here is a must before a trip to the D-Day Beaches as it provides important context to the sites. Reviewers said you should plan to spend half a day here to make the most of the museum's offerings and that the audio guide is essential. One particular highlight for travelers was the reconstructed underground bunker of a Nazi general.
The museum is located in Caen, about 30 miles southeast of the D-Day beaches. It is generally open daily from 9 or 9:30 a.m. to 5, 6 or 7 p.m., depending on the month. Keep in mind: The museum is closed for the majority of January. Tickets cost 19.80 euros (about $22) for adults and 17 euros (around $19) for children ages 10 to 18 and adults 60 and older. There is an additional fee for special exhibits and audio guides. If you're accessing the museum via public transportation, you can take the No. 2 bus from the city center. For more information, visit the museum's official 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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