June 6th 1944, occupied Normandy, France was invaded by the Allies — becoming a day that would be forever engraved into history. A day where 156,000 Allied Soldiers fought for the world’s freedom, being one of the largest military invasions in history. 75 years later, millions of visitors continue to travel to Normandy annually — respectfully honoring those soldiers’ sacrifices.
Where We Stayed
My husband and I are an outdoorsy couple, so we decided to overnight at Camping Omaha Beach. This campsite is located right on the top of the cliff overlooking Omaha Beach. If you’re considering staying here, this campsite includes:
-Rental Mobile Homes
-Areas for tents, camper vans, etc.
– Showers // Bathrooms // Sinks
-A little store
-Ping Pong Table
All in all, we really enjoyed overnighting here, & would recommend it to anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in history, & also camping. It is truly the perfect package deal if those are what you are into. I quickly noticed that all of the other families who camped here were extremely respectful, due to the campsite’s location. I didn’t see any trash left anywhere, people weren’t loud, & shortly after the sun set – most went to sleep. Outdoorsy history lovers — This is your place to stay.
What We Did
We started our trip touring the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux, France [because it was on the way to the campsite] This little inexpensive museum was a good place to start — providing us lots of facts before we actually stepped foot onto the historic grounds. I recommend stopping by any of the museums before touring the actual locations, just to have more insight on what happened at each place!
After this museum, we checked into our campsite, then walked down to Omaha Beach — where the toughest battle of D-Day occurred. My husband & I walked along the quiet, calm, huge beach, taking in all of the emotion that comes with it. Where we politely stood quietly, soldiers were once running. They were shooting… & they were getting shot at. These brave soldiers were fighting for the freedom of the world. & 75 years later we just stood there, Zack & I, with nobody around us — Hearing nothing but waves crashing… & silence. Silence, that was oh, so loud.
The next spot we checked off of our little Normandy Bucket List was Sainte-Mere-Eglise. This was the first town in France to be liberated by the Allies. The 82nd Airborne Division dropped in, & Private John Steele’s parachute got stuck on the steeple of the local church. After being caught for over two hours, German soldiers pulled him down, & held him for prisoner. After about four days, John escaped — returning to Allied Lines. There is a statue still on that church today in honor of him.
Driving to Utah Beach, we accidentally came across a statue in honor of a soldier. To our surprise, this memorial was in honor of Major Richard Winters. For those of you who don’t know who he is — HBO’s hit TV show Band of Brothers followed the story of Easy Company which showcased many soldiers, including Major Dick Winters [who is the epitome of a great Army leader] Band of Brothers is one of my husband and I’s favorite TV shows, & Dick Winters is an Army leader whom we’ve both truly admired for many years now. Finding his memorial here was such a pleasant surprise!
Our next stop was the D-Day Experience, & touring Nazi Paratrooper Headquarters [located at Dead Man’s Corner] Where do I even begin? The D-Day Experience was definitely one of my favorite museums I have ever gone to. Not only was it located where the history went down, & also had lots of facts // artifacts, but the whole place was tied together in a way that I have never seen before. It was all told in the POV of Lt. Colonel ‘Bull’ Wolverton, tying together stories with the artifacts of the museum. This take on the tour was sooo unique & made it feel like a friend was with us, sharing the personal stories of WWII. We loved it.
In the D-Day Experience Museum, we also experienced a Paratrooper Simulation. We were briefed, boarded a real plane, buckled up, & got to experience what it was like for the Airborne Soldiers on D-Day. To see our footage from this simulation, click here & skip to 7:57 [or if you want to check out the whole vlog, you can do that, too😉]
Dead Man’s Corner is also located here, where Nazi Paratrooper Headquarters were once located — AND this original building can be toured. We recommend stopping by here if you are in Normandy, because it is just sooo… incredible to be able to experience. The end of the museum includes a gift shop that sells actual WWII items — helmets, uniforms, shoes, gum, etc!!
Next stop was Pointe du Hoc, the cliffs where US Army Rangers successfully scaled & seized German Artillery pieces. Here we walked inside many ground craters from the war forever imprinted into the Earth, toured German bunkers, & witnessed the 100 foot cliffs that the US Army Rangers scaled. So many unique & historic sights here, which was a very popular tourist destination with people of all ages!
Last, but certainly not least, we toured the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Here we didn’t take any photos out of respect. My husband and I were completely moved by the thousand & thousands of gravesides located here. It truly left me speechless, & emotional. This cemetery is a must see place for anyone who ever visits Normandy. Soooo many heroes lie here. True heroes who shaped the history of our world. I am grateful for each & every one of them.
See you all next month!
♡ Valerie Karen.