Normandy Travel: American Cemetery and D-Day Beaches
Is a trip to France on your bucket list? Or, do you have plans to visit anytime soon? If so, I highly recommend adding Normandy travel to your agenda.
This past January, I went to Ireland and booked an extra week at the end of my stay. My original intention was to spend the second week visiting a country I hadn't already been to. But when my friend, Gabby, invited me to visit her and her family in the quaint Normandy countryside, I reconsidered and put Normandy travel on my itinerary. And I was so glad I did!
Although traveling on your own to unfamiliar places is exciting, I love visiting friends who live in and are familiar with a foreign city. Having your friends be your travel guide gives you insight into a life and helps you gain appreciation for a culture that you would otherwise never experience. My favorite moments during my Normandy travel included going to dinner with Gabby's friends, doing day-to-day tasks like making dinner together and going grocery shopping, and just hanging around the house.
Fortunately, Normandy travel is easy. Argentan, where I stayed, is located only an hour and a half outside of Paris by train. So, all I had to do was hop on a flight from Ireland to Paris and make my way to the train station. From there, I paid approximately $50 for a ticket and enjoyed the hour-and-a-half ride to the countryside where my friends welcomed me.
Must-See Sites for Your Normandy Travel
I could have spent all my time on a road trip during my Normandy travel, weaving from one small French town to the next, taking in the breathtaking countryside in between. But, no trip to Normandy is complete without visiting two places: the D-Day Beaches and Mont St. Michel and fortunately, my friends were gracious enough to take me to both.
Had I have had more time, I also would have loved to have visited cities like Bayeux and Honfleur. I hear the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Museum of the Bayeux Tapestry are amazing. I guess I'll just have to go back!
Omaha Beach and American Cemetery
Entrance to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery requires passing through a visitors center, featuring informative films, photographs, and other paraphernalia from the D-Day attack (uniforms, food cans, ammunition, and more). I especially loved the photographs and details about the preparation and carrying out of the attack shown in chronological order.
My most favorite part of my experience at Omaha Beach was visiting the American Cemetery. Words cannot describe how breathtaking it is to emerge from the visitors center under ground, walk down the pathway overlooking Omaha Beach, and turn to see the expanse of the beautifully manicured green grass covered by 9,387 white-marble crosses and Stars of David, honoring those who sacrificed their lives to help end World War II. Omaha Beach is an enormous expanse of sea and sand and it was hard for me to imagine the carnage that existed there during World War II given how reverent everyone is today. It was a very peaceful place.
We didn't have much time, so this was our only stop at the D-Day Beaches. Gabby, who has been there many times (see her photos here), especially recommended Pointe du Hoc. So that will be on my Normandy travel wish list for my next trip.
What are your favorite American memorials and cemeteries?