Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

We traveled the mountains, the seas and admired the architecture epitomizing the bygone glory. For the love of our travel passion, we seek and explore locales that fascinate us that beckon us. In this pursuit, some turn our to be an inspiration for life.

The D-day tour of Normandy walks one through the history of WW2. It’s not just about the museums, it’s about the battlefields and landing beaches where the altruistic soldiers breathed their last. Bayeux a commune in Normandy is a perfect start point for the D-day tours.

We booked a tourist taxi to visit the American Cemetery and the Omaha Beach. We boarded the taxi at the Bayeux station to the American Cemetery, which takes around half an hour. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial were built to commemorate the American troops who died in Europe during World War II.

We entered the visitor center, which depicts the story of the D-Day landings, battles and the brave Americans buried in the cemetery.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

The visitor center holds an exhibition of the photos, film clippings, interviews and artifacts of the soldiers.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

When walking out of the visitor center one can hear a continuously played audio, which reads out the names of all the valiant soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery covers 172 acres of land overlooking the blue waters of the Omaha beach, one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

Walking through the rows of marble headstones of the 9,387 Americans military dead and the overwhelming tranquility carries one’s mind and soul away into the past. A strange feeling will leave you engulfed with the illusion of the war and flashes of the bloodshed that took place decades ago running in front of your eyes.

“That moment when everything is at a standstill and you could hear your own breath standing there amidst thousands of them still alone.”

The Walls of the Missing is a semi-circular walled garden on which are inscribed 1,557 names of Americans who lost their lives but could not be recovered or identified. A loggia on either side of memorial contains maps and information on the military operations. At the center, a 22-foot bronze statue stands for ‘The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves’.

We next drove to Omaha Beach where the American forces landed on June 6, 1944, to fight for the liberation of France. Statue les Braves, a nine-meter tall stainless steel sculpture stands on the Omaha Beach to commemorate the soldiers who landed here.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

Omaha Memorial Museum near the beach exhibits the arms, uniforms, films, maps and other artifacts signifying the landings on the Omaha Beach.

On the way back we stopped by British Cemetery yet another heart-wrenching sight. Also known as Bayeux War Cemetery, the cemetery contains 4,648 burials of British soldiers and other nations including the German soldiers.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

Opposite this cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial which has engraved names of more than 1,800 soldiers whose bodies were never found.

We asked our taxi driver to drop us at the Bayeux city center. Bayeux was the first city to be liberated during the Battle of Normandy during World War II. The city and its historical treasures being unharmed during the world wars have a well-preserved charm.

The Bayeux city center is within walkable distance from the station and compact enough to be explored on foot.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

We visited the tourist office and collected the walking tourist map and the lady at the desk gave us an insight into the places to be covered.

Bayeux Cathedral is a gorgeous Gothic cathedral dated back to 11th-century from the times of William the Conqueror.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

The cathedral has an imposing 95-m high central tower, intricately carved portals and beautiful stained glass windows at the northern end. Visiting the Bayeux Cathedral in summer rewards one with the colorfully lit cathedral at dusk.

Bayeux and the Normandy D-day Experience

Around five-minute walk from the cathedral is the Bayeux Tapestry Museum. The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 meters (230 ft) long and 50 centimeters (20 in) tall, which depicts the conquest of England by William by defeating Harold at the Battle of Hastings. The Tapestry was originally displayed in the Bayeux cathedral until 1793.

Due to time constraints, we could do only the American Cemetery and the Omaha beach but there are many other D-Day memorials, monuments and museums. One can do a full-day guided tour dedicated to the museums, landing beaches, monuments and memorials of World War II that changed the course of history. One can also visit the historical town of Caen, which is 15 minutes from Bayeux by train.

Have you been to the D-Day tour? How has been your experience? Do share with us in comments.

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27 Comment

  1. Melinda says: Reply

    My sisters and mother took a river cruise on the Seine so had the opportunity to see the American cemetery as well as Omaha Beach, too. What a moving experience. There was a wreath laying ceremony while we were there; not a dry eye. We also spent some time that day in Arramanche, a lovely seaside town. Your description of your day brought back memories from our trip. I just loved all of Normandy, and as you said, the WWII memorials are just part.

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      We did not know you could visit the American cemetery and the Omaha Beach on a cruise. That’s interesting! And yes very true of what you said those sights are definitely a moving experience.

  2. Katie says: Reply

    I loved visiting Normandy, I thought the Bayeux Tapestry was so interesting. Also, if you are a fan of Kevin Coster and his Robin Hood movie the tapestry is in the opening credits.

  3. This would be such a good trip. I am from the U.S. so I know that the cemetary would have a big effect on me. I guess the places like Omaha beach appear now as just a stretch of sand and could not reflect the amount of bloodshed on the spots. Moving place to visit.

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Yes but the memorials, artifacts, and the museum visits are enough to bring back the glimpses of the past and the bloodshed that happened years ago.

  4. Gabi says: Reply

    This is a trip that I would really like to do some day. I love teaching history to my kids when we travel, and Normandy is a must place I believe. The image of the cemeteries and the beach are so peaceful, such a contrast with the nightmare those places have seen going on back in time.

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      So very true Gabi, but we find that serenity overwhelming enough to ring the screeches of all the past bloodshed into our ears.

  5. It looks like you had a great time there! Normandy is definitely on my to do-list, I have a degree in War History so I feel that your trip would have been right up my alley! Great photos 🙂

  6. Carmy says: Reply

    As someone who just finished her degree in history at UofT, I would love to visit Normandy. The memorials have such a special place in my heart, especially as a Canadian.

  7. I love Normandy as have heard lot about it from my friends. Would love to visit it once. Pictures are also beautiful 🙂

  8. It’s always so difficult to visit these kinds of historical places when traveling, but oh so important. Your story was a touching one, you described each area with grace, and the pictures are stunning. This is somewhere I have always wanted to go, to commemorate those who died fighting for peace during WWII. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      True Danielle, visiting such places and paying our respect can be a way we can do our bit for all the selfless deaths.

  9. We saw a lot of towns while in France, but missed Normandy. Your post reminds me that we have to go back for Normandy, specially the tombstones. An information-filled post.

  10. Jenn says: Reply

    Living in Belgium as I am now, there are plenty of memorials about both the first and second world wars. I keep on postponing going on a daytrip to Normandy, but it really looks worth it. And what a hidden pearl Bayeux! Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Blair Villanueva says: Reply

    Bayeux Cathedral is truly eye catchy and beautiful! I guess hosting a wedding here would be solemn and fabulous 🙂

  12. Ami says: Reply

    A little bit of sad, a little bit of an awe and some bit of inspiration – is what I felt after I read the entire bit on the memorial. The Cathedral is just beautiful, and your pics bring out those aspects so beautifully. Thanks for sharing this,

  13. Thuymi says: Reply

    Omaha artifacts on the beach is quite special wow. Does the tide ever go up? Seems like it doesn’t since they look pretty intact!

  14. Tae says: Reply

    Wow, what a touching tribute and experience. I love the way you conveyed both facts and emotion throughout the post. Definitely need to visit Normandy someday.

  15. Joanna says: Reply

    I have recently visited Normandie in a day trip by ferry from my hometown in England, but I didn’t have enough time to go to Omaha beach, I’ve stayed in the North. It looks like a very emotional place to visit, and where better to learn about what happened than there? Bayeux seems like a wonderful little town, the cathedral is very beautiful.

  16. Beautiful imagery. Sounds like s tour I would enjoy. I love stepping back in time and walking through places like this reminds us that we should be more grateful.

  17. Looks like you had taken a nice tour and uncovered some interesting facts about history. I was not very familiar with Normandy before this post and it looks like a place I would enjoy lots.

  18. I have read about the battle of Normandy and it was so interesting. So I can imagine it must have been an unforgettable experience for you when you went on the tour. Visiting that cemetery would have been quite heartbreaking.

  19. Shane says: Reply

    Now I’m not normally a huge history buff but Normandy would be an enlightening experience. Visiting would be like bringing to life all I learned from a textbook in high school!

  20. Ana says: Reply

    Loved the Gothic architecture of Bayeux Cathedral and would definitely love to visit there! I believe history tours are the must on trips to know the background of the place! And the battle of Normandy is very famous in WW2 history! Glad to know that you guys went there!

  21. The architecture of the Bayeux Cathedral looks stunning inside and outside! I’m glad you had such a nice experience. For me is always pleasant to visit historical places because they remind me of the great things that changed this world. True, some of them very sad…

  22. sophie says: Reply

    Oh my goodness: Bayeux is so rich in history- so much so that I’m not surprised you didn’t have time to see it all! Having studied all about the Bayeux tapestry, I’d really like to see it some day!

  23. My grandad – who lived during ww2 – used to tell me many stories about Normandy and the arrival of Americans. However, I’ve never been able to visit the actual beach, nor to see the battlefields and the cemetry.
    The one-day full tour sounds extremely interesting and enriching, I feel like actually seeing historical landmarks in person is the best way to really learn about historical events.
    Moreover, both Bayeux and Caen must be really picturesque towns. I will keep all this in mind for the next time I’m headed to France!

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