If you are planning to visit Normandy’s Second World War attractions, staying in a gite can be better value, more fun and more authentic than a hotel room or campsite.
France For Families features a wide array of gites close to World War II museums, memorials and landing beaches across Normandy, covering everything from revamped farmhouses to stylish cottages.
This is our guide to the most important of Normandy’s Second World War attractions.
American Cemetery at Omaha Beach
This is the largest Allied cemetery in Normandy with 9,387 graves on a 170 acre site. The cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach where so many Americans lost their lives. It is beautifully maintained and a visit here is a very moving experience. There is also an impressive Visitor Centre with a fascinating museum packed full of facts and newsreel items.
A museum for Peace that gives an overall history of war from 1918 to the present day. The Caen Memorial is split into many different sections, starting with a journey into history in the aftermath of WWI and then moving on to various aspects of WWII, including the French Resistance and D-Day. The attention to detail in the exhibits and the layout of the museum is first class.
Discover the full story behind the famous glider attack on Pegasus Bridge, one of the two bridges spanning the Orne River and canal. The small museum is very informative and has a film show (available in English – do ask) that gives an excellent overview of the events. Outside in the grounds you can visit the original Pegasus Bridge (which has been replaced across the river with a new bridge) and an actual size model of a glider from the war period.
Pointe du Hoc
Considered by the allied invasion forces to be of crucial importance on D-Day, this huge series of German gun emplacements and interconnecting bunkers was situated on a prominent headland between Utah and Omaha beaches on the Normandy coast. Today as you wander the picturesque setting with its beautiful far-reaching views, it is hard to imagine the scenes of over 60 years ago. It is still possible today to go inside the bunkers as well as viewing the former gun sites.
Atlantic Wall Museum
This private museum, hidden away in the middle of a residential area, tells the story of the imposing concrete bunker with commanding views along the coast – a target that was of extreme importance to the allies. The many floors have lots of showcases full of information and mock up rooms. A ladder attached to an interior wall leads up to the roof for great views, and outside are WWII vehicles, including a reconstructed landing craft that featured in the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’.
Built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day, this circular theatre of nine standing-room-only screens shows the poignant film ‘The Price of Freedom’. This film mixes news-reel images and archive material from war correspondents with modern day pictures. There is no spoken commentary, simply the sounds and noises of the D-Day sections and music covering the modern sequences.
Located on the edge of Juno Beach, the museum marks the site of the D-Day landings by Canadian soldiers. Exhibits cover not only the landings themselves but they also give an insight into Canadian culture and life, both past and present.
This small museum is a former German Battery built as part of Germany’s Atlantic Wall defences. There are several casements on the site but only one can be visited and this is where the main museum exhibits can be found.
For accommodation, search our list of gites close to World War II museums and attractions.