Key Historic places to visit in Normandy
If you’re looking to explore historic sites in Normandy there’s a fantastic selection to choose from. With so many options, it’s no wonder that Normandy has long been a favourite destination for UK schools looking to link to their history curriculum.
The D-Day Beaches
The D-Day beaches are the historic site of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Western Europe during World War II. Utah, Omaha, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach were stormed by Allied soldiers in the morning of June 6th 1944. A visit to the beaches will help you gain a real feel for the environment and help imagine events within the settings.
Arromanches: D-Day Landings Museum
The museum has five different sections including: a gallery of working models overlooking the historic site (guided tour), a diorama with special light and sound effects that brings the early hours of D Day to life, the hall of the Allied Nations museum collections, a film featuring archive footage, and shops. The museum overlooks where one of the Mulberry Harbours was constructed, and its remains can be seen a few hundred metres from the shore.
Pointe du Hoc (located between Utah and Omaha beaches)
Heavily defended by the Germans, this headland was an ideal post from which to survey the whole coast and is the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. It was here that the American troops landed in 1944 and on D-Day (6 June 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the 100 ft cliffs.
Pegasus Memorial Museum and Bridge (located at Ranville near Caen)
A museum about WWII, dedicated to the heroic action of the 6th British Airborne Division during the battle which took place on the Normandy beaches in June to September 1944. A thematically laid out exhibition hall enables visitors to discover the missions of the division and view hundreds of historical objects and photos. The original Bénouville Bridge, renamed Pegasus Bridge after the liberation, is on display in the park of the museum.
Caen Memorial Museum
This is a museum and war memorial, a place of history and also a reflection on the close links between the rights of man and the preservation of peace. Visitors take a journey back from 1918 to the present day. There are three memorial gardens: the American Garden, the British Garden and the Canadian Garden. There is a gallery dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize and an extension focusing on the Cold War and the search for Peace comprising neutralised warheads, planes and a fragment of the Berlin Wall. The museum contains a lot of artefacts and information, not only on WWII, but on other significant moments in history too.
Famous for its tapestry relating the Battle of Hastings and accession of William the Conqueror to the throne of England, Bayeux has also seen the first official appearance of General Charles de Gaulle, only a few days only after D-Day. Walking through the wonderful narrow medieval streets, squares and alleys of Bayeux, you’ll see the ancient buildings, timbered houses and historical landmarks. A highlight is the beautiful Bayeux Cathedral and the scenic views over the river Aure. Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated from Nazi occupation during the 1944 Battle of Normandy and survived almost completely unscathed.
William the Conqueror’s Chateau, Falaise
William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born at the castle in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. The tour uses computer tablets to show the castle as it was lived in together with a description of the history of the Normans. This excursion may appeal especially to Primary schools studying this period in history.
A must visit for history enthusiasts, Mont St-Michel is in the heart of a great bay that has the highest tides in Europe. After going through the Boulevard Gate and the King’s Gate fortified with its portcullis, you will find the main street with museums, shops and houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. The Abbey was turned into a prison during the days of the French Revolution and Empire, and needed to be restored before the end of the 19th century.
Our Château du Baffy is exclusive to Select and is ideally located for your school trip to Normandy. View more here!