Along the “Côte de Nacre” on the English Channel, there are many small and big resort towns with sandy, wide beaches, which glistens in the sun like mother of pearl. The bathing areas are interrupted now and again by rocky sections. Given the serene atmosphere one can hardly imagine that one of the biggest battles of world history has taken place here. On 6 June 1944 the Allied invasion was started along the entire coast, which is also known as Operation Overlord or even more familiar: D-Day. Thus began the planned opening of a western front of the anti-Hitler coalition. For those who want to find out more, a visit of the Circuit de Debarkement, the most important places of the invasion, is essential.
Picturesque historic town with gothic cathedral
The medieval town lies about 9 km south of the Normandy beach where the allied forces landed in 1944. Bayeux was liberated during the Battle of Normandy on 14 June 1944. The city's main attraction is the gothic cathedral, which is decorated with a 70 m long tapestry made in 1077 to commemorate the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror. The coastline is a mixture of sandy beaches, pebble beaches and cliffs. The nearby town of Arromanches les Bains, where the invasion of Normandy began in 1944, is now a seaside resort.
Longest beach used during Operation D-Day
Omaha Beach, a ten kilometer section of coastline between the mouth of the Vire near Vierville-sur-Mer and the small fishing town of Port-en-Bessin, forms the longest beach to see fighting during the invasion in 1944. The beaches to the east had the code names Gold, Juno and Sword Beach.
A paradise for birds on a marshy peninsula
This nature reserve is a haven for Normandy's plant and animal life and covers an area of 1,450 square kilometers. In the middle of the park is a large bog that is especially inviting for birds. The best ways to explore the moor, which is often flooded in winter, is by boat on the Douve or the Taute, on foot or by bike. The best place to start is the old episcopal city of Carentan.
D-Day's western sector
During the allied invasion of Normandy, Utah Beach was the code name for the five kilometers of coastline between Pouppeville and La Madeleine at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula. A landing point this far west was originally not intended, but the allies needed a deep-water harbor. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the soldiers only met light resistance at Utah Beach. Several German artillery batteries fired at the ships farther out at sea, but were unable to do much damage. By the end of the day, more than 20,000 soldiers and 1,700 vehicles had disembarked onto French soil.