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