Whether for the legendary white sand beaches of the Côte de Nacre or for the cathedral of Bayeux, the west of Calvados is worth a detour. Welcome to rural Normandy, where the fields end at the edge of the English Channel and where history has left its mark. Great moments of emotion await you, at the American cemetery of Omaha Beach or in front of the almost millennial Bayeux tapestry.
The Caen Memorial
We strongly recommend that you start your visit to the region by Caen Memorial. Inaugurated on June 6, 1988, the Memorial is one of the obligatory passages in Normandy.
It evokes more of a large educational center than a museum on the Second World War: in fact, it is both a cultural center (museum, cinema, exhibitions, etc.), a documentation center, a forum (conferences, concerts, etc.) and a monument dedicated to peace.
In all, nearly 4 m500 have been devoted to the history of the 2th century since 1918. The Memorial is divided into two main parts: we start with everything related to the Second World War and we continue after war and the geopolitics of the world to the present day.
Archives, films, models, vehicles and uniforms bring the history “lesson” to life. In short, it is fascinating and essential before going to the Landing beaches.
Caen Memorial: General-Eisenhower esplanade. www.memorial-caen.fr
From Ouistreham to the north of Caen (Sword Beach) to Cotentin (Utah Beach) extend the famous beaches where the Allies landed. The sites are certainly familiar to us, but, being there, how not to feel a powerful (and unprecedented) emotion?
These places have preserved the scars of history, despite the splendor of the expanses of white sand: bomb craters, reinforced concrete blocks, underground shelters ... And, above all, the cemeteries where tens of thousands of soldiers who came to lose lie. their lives to liberate Europe.
Even if the Landing was done from West to East, we advise you to visit the beaches in the opposite direction, after the Memorial: Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah Beach.
If you don't have time, choose the grandiose site ofOmaha Beach where the Americans landed, the poignant American cemeteries in Colleville-sur-Mer (9387 graves) and Canadian in Revier, the beautiful village ofArromanches, where you can see part of the artificial harbor used by the Allies, and the Pointe du Hoc, seat of a Homeric assault led by the rangers.
Bayeux and its tapestry
Bayeux was one of the first liberated cities in France. It therefore did not suffer from the bombardments. Old, placid houses, superb half-timbered mansions, quiet shores of the Aure: isn't Normandy beautiful? And then, the majestic bayeux cathedral, built in the XNUMXth century, is one of the most beautiful in France.
But the treasure of Bayeux is above all its famous tapestry, one of the jewels of the world heritage. In fact, it is an embroidery on a linen canvas, 70 m (!) Long, which traces the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. Inaugurated in 1077, this gigantic “comic strip” was intended to decorate the cathedral while spreading an edifying message on the virtues of William.
Since 1983, it has been located in the basement of the Guillaume-le-Conquérant center, protected by an armored glass in a room plunged into semi-darkness. We visit it with an audio guide who deciphers the subtleties of the tapestry for us.
Center Guillaume-le-Conquérant, rue de Nesmond. www.tapisserie-bayeux.fr.
For more information, see our Normandy sheet
Bayeux and region tourist office: 6 bis, rue Dusevel. Phone. : 02-31-51-28-28. Internet: www.bessin-normandie.com
How to get there ?
Normandy motorway to Caen. From Paris, it takes 2 hours 40 minutes
By train - Paris – Caen: around 1 hour 45 minutes from Saint-Lazare station.
- Rennes-Caen: around 3:30 a.m.
"Landing Circuit" of the Green Buses in July-August. Departures are provided from Caen in connection with trains from Paris. A 1 to 7 day pass allows you to travel freely on the network. Information: 0810-214-214 or www.busverts.fr
There are also guided tours to the beaches from Bayeux.
Where to eat ?
Le P'tit Resto: 2, rue du Bienvenu, in Bayeux. Phone. : 02-31-51-85-40. Menus € 20-30. Seasonal cuisine, not devoid of creativity. Charming welcome, pleasant surroundings and refined service. Closed Sunday and Monday (off season).
Where to sleep ?
Logis Les Remparts: 24, rue Bourbesneur in Bayeux. Phone. : 02-31-92-50-40. www.lecornu.fr. In the heart of the historic district, three tastefully decorated rooms in a beautiful 58th century residence. Charming welcome from Christèle and François who run a cellar-store next door, where you can buy cider, calvados and delicious apple jellies. Doubles from € XNUMX including breakfast.