Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

In this 75th anniversary year of D-Day my brother and I made a short trip to Normandy to visit the D-Day landing beaches, museums and memorials.  We also visited the Bayeux Tapestry (depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1066) and the burial tomb of King William I in Caen.  It was a faced-paced visit over two days, covering around 100 miles.  We used the Newhaven/Dieppe car ferry service between England and France; a crossing of around 4 hours.  Newhaven is on the south coast, around 60 miles from London.

In all, we visited ten key sights; Pegasus Bridge, Sword Beach, the German batteries at Longues-sur-Mer, Arromanches ‘Mulberry’ Harbour, Arromanches D-Day Museum, Omaha Beach, the Normandy American Cemetery, Bayeux Cathedral, Bayeux Tapestry and the tomb of King William I in the Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen.  Here a few of the photographs.

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Shortly after midnight on the 6th June 1944 three gliders landed near ‘Pegasus Bridge’ (pictured) that crosses the Caen Canal. German defenders were overcome and liberation of France had began
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The first house to be liberated in France, now the cafe ‘G. Gondree’ (the so called ‘Pegasus Bridge’ cafe)
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The memorial to the fallen at Sword Beach in the British Sector
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Sword Beach extends from Ouistreham to St Aubin. Before midnight on the 6th June, 28,000 British and French troops had landed here
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One of the many concrete ‘caissons’ that were floated across the Channel and sunk at Arromanches to form an artificial quay (the Mulberry Harbour)
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The remains of some of the floating quays that connected the shore to the outer quay (remains of which are visible in the distance)
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More remains of some of the floating quays and the distant caissons, still in situ
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A section of pontoon bridge that formed the roadway that rested on the floating quays
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One of four (part-intact) German gun batteries at Longues-sur-Mer
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The Mulberry harbour at Arromanches (photograph taken from the west)
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Omaha Beach in the American sector.  Around two thousand US military personnel died on this beach on D-Day. Overall, 35,000 landed here on 6th June 1944 and managed to secure 1-2 km inland
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Omaha Beach
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Memorial to the US 1st Infantry Division at Omaha Beach
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Omaha Beach
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The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial was dedicated in July 1956. It is co-located above Omaha beach. The 22-foot statue ‘The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves’ faces west towards 9,387 headstones, that includes 45 sets of brothers
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House on La Rue des Cuisiniers, Bayeux dating from the 14th century.  It is the oldest and largest timber-framed house in Bayeux
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The medieval La Rue des Cuisiniers, Bayeux

 

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Bayeux Cathedral. Consecrated in July 1077. Most of the cathedral dates from the 14th-15th century.  Reputedly, it was here that King William I forced Harold Godwinson (King Harold II) to take an oath of allegiance, the breaking of which led to the Norman conquest of England
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Medieval house and waterwheel in Bayeux
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Bayeux Museum, home of the Bayeux Tapestry and other exhibits describing the conquest of England by the Duke of Normandy in October 1066
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Bayeux Museum, home of the Bayeux Tapestry and other exhibits describing the conquest of England by the Duke of Normandy in October 1066

 

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Matilda’s patisserie and cafe in the centre of Bayeux (named after the Matilda of Flanders, wife of King William I)

 

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Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen. Consecrated in 1077. Unscathed by the French revolution and the bombing campaign of 1944, the abbey and monastic rooms retain their original splendour
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Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen.  Built according to a Benedictine plan (a Latin cross) is one of the largest Romanesque churches in France
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The tomb of King William I in the Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen

 

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