Spend a memorable day on Normandy’s beaches and battlefields.
The departure from Paris is around 7am. Direction the North West of France and Normandy region for a trip of about 3 hours. We will pass near the city of Rouen and we will make a stop just before the city of Caen. Then we will visit in the following order the Pointe du Hoc, Omaha beach, the Normandy American cemetery and the village of Arromanches (Gold Beach). Other places can be visited such as Longues-sur-Mer German battery or, for Canadians, Juno beach and Beny-sur-Mer cemetery.
The return to Paris is scheduled around 19h.
Our day in Normandy will start around 10 am at the Pointe du Hoc.
Here, 225 American Rangers under the orders of Colonel Rudder were tasked in neutralizing 155mm guns. Under enemy fire, they had to climb a cliff 30 meters high with ropes, grapples and ladders. Once at the top, the Rangers realized that the 155mm guns had been replaced by lures. It was actually telephone poles. Then, the Rangers managed for two days to repel the German counterattacks but at the cost of heavy losses.
Today the battlefield is now managed by the ABMC. It keeps German bunkers, casemates, shelters and tobrouks. Witness the violence, the numerous craters dug by the Allied bombing in May 1944. At the top of the cliff a monument was inaugurated by President Reagan on June 6, 1984, just above the German observation bunker. From here we have a nice overview of the Cotentin peninsula and Utah beach. One understands then all the interest to destroy the guns which were a threat for the landings on Omaha and Utah beach.
Of the five landing beaches, Omaha is where the fighting was the bloodiest. Indeed several conditions were met to prevent the smooth running of the assault on this beach of 8 kilometers dominated by a hill. First of all the Germans had ideal defensive positions as they dominated the entire length of the beach. Resistance nests (WN) skillfully controlled access to the beach by crossfire or flanking. Moreover, the German soldiers stationed in Omaha were quite experienced since some of them arrived from the Russian front. Then the weather was the other unexpected enemy of the Americans. The soldiers suffered a lot of seasickness because of the storm. The pilots of the bombers had no sufficient visibility to succeed in an effective bombardment on the German defensive positions. Most of the amphibious tanks sank and they could not support the first soldiers that landed. The first waves of assault were destroyed 90% and it took nearly 6 hours of fighting to take and secure the entire area of Omaha beach.
This beach has become the symbol of the sacrifice of American soldiers in Normandy. That’s why we chose to build the Normandy American Cemetery above the beach. Inaugurated in 1956, it hosts 9,387 graves.
You will have plenty of time to visit the cemetery and the visitor center opened in 2007.
After, it will be time to have lunch. Several options will be available. We will decide when the time comes.
Before returning to Paris we can make a stop at Arromanches or, if you are Canadian, at Courseulles-sur-mer (Juno beach).