Friday, June 14, 2019
Our AirBNB was excellent (photos). We would highly recommend staying there.
And the area around our AirBNB -- known as Les Bateaux -- was so historical and visually stimulating. It was a short walk down to the beach from the AirBNB. As we walked there were still D-Day (June 6th) decorations in most of the yards. There was also WWII Jeep parked at the bottom of the road before the beach.
After our beach experience, we made our way into the nearest "big" town --Port-en-Bessin -- to get some supplies for dinner at the local market -- Super U. After shopping we headed back to the AirBNB for our dinner and then some relaxing before bed.
The first thing we did on our first full day in Normandy was to visit the Overload Museum. This is a great museum! Easy to access, tons of good info, and a large amount of physical hardware from both the Allies perspective and from the Germans.
Then we went to the Omaha Museum. I liked this museum a lot as it had a lot of personal items like all the types of firearms, uniforms, etc. There was also a good video documentary that they shared in their theater.
After that we spent some time on Omaha Beach. It was very low tide at the time we were there and the waves were very small. It is surprisingly long, but only a few ways up from the beach to the high ground.
Once we finished at Omaha we drove to Pointe du Hoc. Being up on the high ground and looking down to see what the soldiers had to accomplish to take over this area was humbling. The bomb holes are still there and they are massive. The German guns at this site could have dropped rounds on both Omaha and Utah beach, but they had been moved inland because of all the aerial bombing leading up to D-Day.
Then we went to Utah Beach. The drive reminded us that that there was almost 10K between each of the D-Day Beaches, and each beach covered a 10K operating area. I learned that Utah Beach went "easier" than Omaha Beach because of the tides and currents. The main body of troops landed in a place less fortified on Utah Beach than their planned location, and the units there captured more ground in the first 24 hours than expected. The drive from and between the two beaches -- Omaha to Utah -- had references to several locations were paratroopers and gliders landed and engaged with the Germans.
After Utah Beach we went to the Normandy American Cemetery just before it closed. This was a very somber place and well done. It is much smaller than I expected given how big it has looked in the past when on TV, but that was probably all angles and framing.
For dinner we went back to Port en Bessin. We found a great place for dinner and the food was excellent (La Marina). The beach was area was interesting because it was full of shells. And we learned some more about what happened in this area during D-Day. The city and port were liberated by British Commando Forces after battles on June 7-8, 1944.
Here is a collection of Port en Bessin photos.