Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

Before the lockdown, my brother and I took a trip to Normandy (ahead of the 75th anniversary commerations of VE day on 8th May 2020).  We visited 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.

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
The first house to be liberated in France, now the cafe ‘G. Gondree’ (the so called ‘Pegasus Bridge’ cafe)
The memorial to the fallen at Sword Beach in the British Sector
Sword Beach extends from Ouistreham to St Aubin. Before midnight on the 6th June, 28,000 British and French troops had landed here
One of the many concrete ‘caissons’ that were floated across the Channel and sunk at Arromanches to form an artificial quay (the Mulberry Harbour)
The remains of some of the floating quays that connected the shore to the outer quay (remains of which are visible in the distance)
More remains of some of the floating quays and the distant caissons, still in situ
A section of pontoon bridge that formed the roadway that rested on the floating quays
One of four (part-intact) German gun batteries at Longues-sur-Mer
The Mulberry harbour at Arromanches (photograph taken from the west)
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
Omaha Beach
Memorial to the US 1st Infantry Division at Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach
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
House on La Rue des Cuisiniers, Bayeux dating from the 14th century.  It is the oldest and largest timber-framed house in Bayeux
The medieval La Rue des Cuisiniers, Bayeux
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
Medieval house and waterwheel in Bayeux
Bayeux Museum, home of the Bayeux Tapestry and other exhibits describing the conquest of England by the Duke of Normandy in October 1066
Bayeux Museum, home of the Bayeux Tapestry and other exhibits describing the conquest of England by the Duke of Normandy in October 1066
Matilda’s patisserie and cafe in the centre of Bayeux (named after the Matilda of Flanders, wife of King William I)
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
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen.  Built according to a Benedictine plan (a Latin cross) is one of the largest Romanesque churches in France
The tomb of King William I in the Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen

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