Top 5 D-Day Museums in Normandy
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, the whole world will be watching the event. Check out our top 5 visits near the D-Day beaches.
1) Pegasus Bridge Memorial Museum, Ranville
Photo: @Paul Hermans
This museum is dedicated to the soldiers of the British 6th Airborne Division who, during the night of 5 to 6 June 1944, seized the Bénouville and Ranville bridges and the Merville Battery, and blew up 5 bridges east of Caen. The original, authentic Pegasus Bridge dominates the museum park, next to a reproduction of a Horsa glider. The building is filled with objects and uniforms donated by veterans: for example, Bill Millin's bagpipes and Major Howard's helmet. The guides are very helpful and friendly.
2) Juno Beach Centre, Courseulles-sur-mer
This 1,400 m2 site is dedicated to the actions of the Canadian forces during the Second World War. Among other things, it presents the civil and military war effort of the Canadian population during this period. The building, in the shape of a maple leaf, was created at the instigation of Canadian veterans and features temporary and permanent exhibits. It is also a vibrant tribute to the young people who crossed the Atlantic to liberate the land of their ancestors. We should note that in 1939 the Canadian army had only 8,000 soldiers, then during the war, thousands of men and women volunteered, responding to the authorities' call, and by 1945, the number of combatants had risen to over 1 million. Canadian guides come to the centre every year.
3) D-Day Museum, Arromanches
Arromanches -© S. Freres - CRT Normandie
The Arromanches Museum is the oldest of the museums devoted to the D-Day landings. Opened in 1954, it is full of exceptional exhibits such as the jacket and beret of Commander Kieffer, leader of the French commandos, and the jacket of the American General Gerhardt, commander of the 29th Infantry Division on Omaha Beach. The museum faces the imposing remains of the artificial port of Arromanches.
4) Big Red One Assault Museum, Colleville-sur-mer
Photo: Guide des plages du Jour J
The Big Red One Museum is located in the immediate vicinity of Omaha beach, and is an unusual site on the trail of the museums about the Battle of Normandy. It is a tribute to the First American Infantry Division, that landed in the first wave of assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Two things should be noted: first of all, the owner, Pierre-Louis Gosselin, is a true D-Day enthusiast; an inexhaustible source of information on the First Infantry Division, which he celebrates through his personal collection. Secondly, despite the limited surface area of the site compared with other Normandy museums, the quality of the collection is quite exceptional. Pierre-Louis Gosselin has meticulously traced the entire history of every artifact in his collection, so the labels recount the life history of each item on display. Heroic or tragic, all the objects reflect the reality of the terrible fighting that took place on the Calvados coast on that day.
5) D-Day Experience and Dead Man's Corner Museum, Saint-Cômes-du-Mont
Photo: D-Day Experience
The D-Day Experience is a site dedicated to American airborne troops. In a 2,000 m2 building built like a US Air Force hangar, you begin your dive into the historic D-Day of the 101st US Airborne Paratroopers. You’ll board the C-47 "Stoy Hora", transformed into a flight simulator, and for 7 minutes, you’ll experience an agitated flight towards Normandy, with turbulence, explosions and smoke, until the plane crashes... Nearby, the Dead Man's Corner Museum is dedicated to the German paratroopers who held the area before June 6, 1944 and to the men of Lt Winters' Easy Company.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In 2017, more than 4.3 million visitors came to the memorial sites in Normandy. If you are planning to stay in the region during this period, we strongly recommended that you book your accommodation in advance. To help you in your search, don't hesitate to consult the special offers available in Normandy on our website.
To find out more about the Official Commemorations, have a look at the 2019 programme on the website Le Guide des plages du jour J.