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9 places to go sand yachting in normandy, during your next vacation, practice sand yachting in normandy   here are 9 beaches for sand yachting in normandy.

With sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, Normandy is the ideal region for sand yachting.   The so-called “ship of the sands” was already used several millennia ago by the Egyptians!   It was Europeans who made it a hobby more than a century ago.   Between the wheeled car and the small sailboat, sand yachting in Normandy is an activity that quickly offers feelings of freedom and fun.   At ground level, you use the force and direction of the wind to gain speed and move.   This very accessible water sport does not require any particular physical condition.

1.   Landing Beaches

Old german bunker in Normandy, Gold beach

Crédit Photo : Shutterstock – photoneye

Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach, Omaha Beach, Utah Beach ... Welcome to the Landing beaches, rich in history and emotion!   Here, you can combine the practice of sand yachting and visiting the museums dedicated to this military operation of the   Second World War   .

Also Read: 18 Most Beautiful Beaches in Normandy

Located on a protected natural site, the kilometers of Omaha Beach and Utah Beach are ideal for nautical leisure.   Arromanches-les-Bains is also one of the unmissable beaches for sand yachting in Normandy.   Nicknamed Gold Beach, it still bears the traces of the large artificial port which welcomed the Allied troops during the liberation of 1944. Providers offer sessions of two to three hours throughout the year.

2. Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer


Credit photo: Shutterstock - Christian Musat

Located very close to Dieppe on the Côte d'Albâtre, the sandy beach of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer provides easy access to sand yachting, especially when coming from the Paris region.   Dieppe is indeed just over two hours from   Paris   .   Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer is the most imposing beach in Seine-Maritime.

Just after the tide, the sea recedes, gradually creating a huge race track.   All year round, depending on the tide times, two-hour sessions are offered by local clubs.

3. Consider the Sciotot

Consider the Sciotot char

Photo Credit: Facebook - Sciotot Sailing and Wind Activity Center

Among the Cotentin beaches, that of Sciotot is a perfect spot for sand yachting in Normandy.   Between the Flamanville and Rozel capes, it is part of the commune of Les Pieux in the Manche.   Its stretch of sand is four kilometers long.   Its wild aspect and its size make it an excellent playground for all, from the age of 8 years.

Did you know that in 2019, the newspaper   Le Monde   ranked Sciotot fifth   most beautiful beach in Europe   ?   All the more reason to consider a nautical leisure stay!

4. Trouville-sur-Mer

Trouville-sur-Mer chariot

Photo credit: Facebook - Trouville sur Mer Tourist Office

To practice sand yachting in Normandy in a mythical place, you have to come to Trouville-sur-Mer.   Located very close to Deauville, this seaside resort is the oldest in the region.   Its large sandy beach stretches for 1.2 kilometers.   It combines nautical leisure, relaxation and history.

In Trouville, you can not only try sand yachting, but also discover Beach Karts!   These small remote-controlled vessels take up the codes of land yachting, on various routes.   Finally, children's clubs and facilities allow the whole family to have fun at the same time.

5. Jullouville

Jullouville sand yachting

Photo credit: Facebook - Jullouville town hall

Located 8 kilometers from Granville, the large Jullouville beach stretches from Saint-Pair-sur-Mer to Carolles for approximately 2 kilometers.   Accessible by stroller, it is above all a family beach.   Its numerous animations in season also help to delight young and old alike.

At low tide, it becomes the nerve center of shore fishing and sand yachting.   The sailing base of Jullouville is also THE spot in the south of the Channel for this activity.   Notice to thrill seekers: the beach is open to the bay, which gives it exposure to winds conducive to speed gain!

cabourg beach

Crédit photo : Shutterstock – flydragon

Between Caen and Deauville, the "romantic beach" stretches over almost 4 kilometers of fine sand.   Visiting Cabourg will give you the opportunity to practice sand yachting in Normandy, in a unique setting.   The Grand Hôtel Belle Époque   , the casino and the Marcel Proust promenade are all attractions that can be observed from the beach.

The seaside resort also has the Family Plus Label: clubs specially dedicated to children are installed on the beach.   If you come with your family, you can let your children have fun during your initiation to your new favorite hobby!   What a pleasure also to reward his sporting efforts by eating an ice cream at the end of the afternoon on the longest pedestrian promenade in Europe.

7. Ouistreham

ouistreham sailing

Photo credit: Facebook - Sweet Home Cabourg

Head for Ouistreham Riva-Bella beach!   Labeled a 3-star Nautical Station, the   Pearl of the Côte de Nacre   is perfect for lovers of marine sports.   Among the range of possible activities, sand yachting is a must.

Before setting off on the sand, take the time to observe the changing landscapes, capped by the dunes that separate you from the city…

8. Bretteville-Sur-Ay


Photo credit: Facebook - Ay-ole sand yachting center

Are you looking for a huge, wild and untouched place for tourism?   Welcome to Bretteville Beach!   Ten kilometers of beach between the two harbors of Saint-Germain-sur-Ay and Surville, a view of the island of   Jersey   : yachting aficionados will be delighted!   The small town of Bretteville-sur-Ay is located on the D650, which locals also call the "tourist route".

From Cherbourg to Coutances, it runs along the Normandy coast and smells of holidays, the sun and the hot sand (in summer!).   Taking this legendary route will take you to several sites of tourist interest ... and many sand yachting spots.   Are you ready for the Normandy sand yachting tour?

9. The Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel


Crédit Photo : Shutterstock – 365_visuals

To practice sand yachting in Normandy in a mythical place, nothing better than the bay of Mont Saint-Michel.   Very close to Mont Saint-Michel, on Hirel's shore, you will be introduced to the pleasures of sand yachting.

The session takes place in two stages: you will approach the sand yachting from a theoretical point of view during a briefing, then once the safety rules are understood, you can let yourself slip into this boat.   Notice to thrill seekers!

Practical information for sand yachting in Normandy

The activity.

Sand yachting is a hobby where you seek both to gain speed and to steer your craft, propelled by the force of the wind.   You quickly manage to control your little ship and gain a very pleasant feeling of freedom.   The tank can be   single or two-seater   .   The tandem version is particularly suitable for taking a child on their lap or for feeling reassured by the presence of an instructor.

The conditions of practice

The sand yachting is   accessible to everyone   , from 7 to 77 years old.   It is best done at low tide, when the beach is huge and you draw lines on the still wet sand.   A minimum force 3 wind is required to propel and steer.   The ideal is also to ride on a very compact sandbank.

The equipment

For a successful session, bring   warm clothes   (sweater, fleece), an old pair of closed shoes, sunglasses and gloves.   Generally, clubs provide helmets and waterproof clothing (coveralls, waxed).   Also think about your change of clothes!

So what are you waiting for to make sand yachting in Normandy?

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The unloved, unlovely, yet indispensable LST

land yachting normandy

Seventy-five years after the allied landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, it is easy to regard the successful invasion of German-occupied France as preordained, its outcome a matter of the inevitable triumph over Nazism.

It was not.

Instead, due to a logistical bottleneck involving a very particular kind of ship, Operation Overlord was postponed and very nearly halted in its tracks.

The culprit was a little-appreciated and seldom-admired type of naval craft known as the Landing Ship, Tank , or LST — the shortage of which very nearly upset the entire operation.

The irreverent sailors who manned these curious ships sarcastically claimed that the acronym actually stood for “Large Slow Target.”

They were not entirely wrong. At over 300 feet in length, LSTs were indeed large and, with a maximum speed of 10 knots, slow as well. Moreover, their prominence at amphibious landings made them prime targets.

They were also remarkably hard to navigate. With their blunt bows (which one LST sailor called “a horrible snow-shovel snout that cannot cut the water”), shallow draft, and flat bottoms, they thumped down jarringly on every wave.

Even in relatively mild waters LSTs induced near-universal seasickness not only among the embarked soldiers, but among the crew. As an LST veteran recalled, the ships “stank of diesel oil, backed-up toilets, and vomit.”

For all that, LSTs were the vital component in Allied amphibious landings from the Mediterranean to the Central Pacific.

They could steam up onto a beach, open their bow doors, deploy a short ramp, and deposit wheeled or tracked vehicles directly onto the sand. Operational commanders found them useful for other types of missions as well, from transporting personnel and vehicles to providing floating stowage.

The problem was there were simply not enough of them. Despite America’s astonishing industrial productivity, circumstances conspired to create a shortage of these essential vessels at a critical moment in the war.

land yachting normandy

The invasion of Cape Gloucester, New Britain, on Christmas Eve, 1943. Crammed with men and material for the invasion, this Coast Guard-manned LST nears the Japanese-held shore. Troops shown in the picture are Marines. (Coast Guard Photographer's Mate 1st Class Don C. Hansen, now in the collections of the National Archives)

In 1942, the War Production Board, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to supervise war mobilization, made LSTs the highest priority in the American wartime construction program.

Soon after the Operation Torch landings in North Africa that November, however, the Battle of the Atlantic was nearing its climax and the board elevated the production of destroyer escorts to the top of the list, dropping LSTs to 12th place, behind minesweepers.

The decision turned out to be the right one: the new escorts helped turn the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic. With the German U-boat menace under control (if not entirely suppressed) by late spring 1943, the Allies sought to reinvigorate the LST program. The U.S. government ordered four American shipyards that had been reconfigured to build destroyers to shift back to the construction of Liberty ships and LSTs.

Retooling a shipyard, however, is not a matter of simply throwing a switch. More than 30,000 parts went into the construction of one LST, and recreating such a lengthy supply chain took time. On top of that, the LST construction program competed with other accession programs. In particular, there was fierce competition for steel plates, needed not only for ship construction, but for tanks, airplanes, and, indeed, almost all weapons of 20th-century warfare.

Most LSTs were constructed at so-called “cornfield shipyards” along the Ohio and Illinois Rivers, which collectively produced an average of 24 new LSTs each month.

Impressive as that was, this fell well-short of the need. In September 1943 the Allies employed 90 LSTs to invade Salerno, south of Naples on the coast of Italy; both Adm. Chester Nimitz and Gen. Douglas MacArthur needed at least that many more in the Pacific; and casting a giant shadow over all theaters was the pending invasion of northern France — Operation Overlord — officially scheduled for May 1, 1944, and requiring 230 LSTs.

land yachting normandy

Landing Ships Tank (LST) land invasion supplies on Omaha Beach, shortly after the 6 June 1944 D-Day assault. (National Archives)

By late 1943 a shortage of LSTs had become the single greatest impediment to the fulfillment of Allied ambitions. This became starkly evident during the Italian Campaign.

Initially Hitler had not planned to defend southern Italy once the Allies successfully gained a foothold on the peninsula; due to the Allies’ naval superiority, it was obvious an amphibious landing could easily outflank any Axis defensive position there.

However, the Führer changed his mind after his Mediterranean Theater commander, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, mounted a robust defense of the beaches at Salerno. Soon after, Kesselring established a strong defensive position some 50 miles north of Naples that ran across the width of Italy.

The precise location of this line accommodated the shifting fortunes of war, and its several versions had various names: the Winter Line, the Hitler Line, and, most often, the Gustav Line. It consisted of an interlocking network of pillboxes, bunkers, and minefields anchored on the small Italian town of Cassino, overlooked by a Benedictine abbey known as Monte Cassino.

When the Allies broke out from Salerno in September 1943 and collided with this heavily fortified position, they came to an abrupt halt. Almost at once the idea of outflanking the Gustav Line with an amphibious end run became a prominent element of Allied planning.

The problem was that a landing behind the Gustav Line would require the use of more than three-score LSTs already scheduled to go to England for the invasion of Normandy. If the operation could be done quickly, the LSTs might be able to do both — though that would work only if they could be released from the Mediterranean soon after the initial landing.

Newly appointed Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was scheduled to go to England in a few weeks to assume command of the cross-Channel invasion, thought such an end run was worth consideration.

He asked the Combined Chiefs of Staff for permission to keep 56 British and 12 American LSTs in the Mediterranean until January 15, 1944.

That would enable him to land one Allied division at Anzio, 70 miles behind the Gustav Line, which — in conjunction with a breakthrough by Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark’s U.S. Fifth Army near Cassino — would overthrow Kesselring’s defenses.

land yachting normandy

LST-77 lands Fifth Army M-4 "Sherman" Tanks on the Anzio Waterfront, 27 April 1944. (National Archives)

The plan had a short life, however, for it soon became evident that a swift breakthrough at Cassino, where Allied forces beat their heads fruitlessly against the German defenses, was unlikely, and the idea was shelved.

It was Winston Churchill who revived it.

At the Tehran Conference of Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 1943, where Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met face to face for the first time, the British prime minister argued passionately for extending the campaign in the Mediterranean to Rome and beyond.

His pleas met stern and unyielding opposition from both the Americans and the Russians, who saw it as yet another effort by the British to delay or postpone the Normandy Invasion. Churchill was undeterred. He found the stalemate at Cassino “scandalous” and continued to hope that he could somehow engineer a decisive Allied victory in Italy. He even imagined that a dramatic success there might make the Normandy landings unnecessary.

Churchill remained in the theater after the Tehran Conference, which strengthened his ability to influence military operations there. That he did so was more a product of chance than intrigue. The conference at Tehran had so exhausted him that he contracted pneumonia, and on his doctor’s orders remained in North Africa — first at Tunis, then at Marrakesh — to recover. Nevertheless, this allowed him to attend, and even to dominate, planning sessions for the Mediterranean.

The decisive meeting took place in Tunis on Christmas Day 1943. It was then that Churchill beguiled his military commanders with a vision of the inevitable success that would result from outflanking the Gustav Line by sea — a move that the prime minister, whose vocabulary had not been enriched by American football terms, called not an “end run” but a “cat’s paw.”

The move would greatly threaten the German supply line, he insisted, forcing Kesselring to respond in one of two ways: Either he must weaken his defenses at Cassino to protect his supply line, which would allow Allied armies to smash through the Gustav Line, or he must retreat entirely.

Churchill’s influence became all the stronger in January 1944, when Eisenhower departed for England to command Overlord, leaving the theater in the hands of an all-British command team. Gen. Henry Maitland Wilson (called “Jumbo” in tribute to his girth) took over as theater commander; Gen. Harold Alexander remained in command of the ground forces; and Sir John Cunningham commanded the naval forces.

land yachting normandy

German prisoners march out of LST-351 on their way to a prisoner of war camp, during the Anzio Campaign in 1944. (National Archives)

Whereas Eisenhower had considered a breakthrough at Cassino important to landing at Anzio, Churchill’s vision was that the landing itself would open the road to Rome. To ensure its success, commanders expanded the landing force from one division to two.

Of course that also meant keeping even more LSTs in the Mediterranean — and for a longer period.

Churchill did not see this as a serious problem. Impatient as he was with logistical details, he argued that this was a mere inconvenience. (As U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson put it in his diary, Churchill had “a mind which revolts against the hard facts of logistics.”)

In addition, however, Churchill also noted that because the crews of the LSTs in the Mediterranean were veterans of previous landings at Sicily and Salerno, they did not need the kind of training and rehearsals that the new LST crews coming from America required. Because of that, he insisted that the 68 LSTs needed to land a flanking force at Anzio could remain in the Mediterranean an extra month — until Feb. 15, 1944 — and still get back to England in time for the cross-Channel invasion in May.

To make it work, timing was critical. The Anzio landing was set for January 20, 1944, and the LSTs would have to depart for England no later than three weeks after that. That should have been a sufficient margin of error — and it likely would have been if Kesselring had behaved as Churchill predicted.

Churchill was confident that the battle would be decided “in a week or ten days,” though some of his operational commanders were less sure. Alexander wrote him that it would be unconscionable to leave two divisions marooned on the Italian coast without support from the sea, and insisted that 14 of the LSTs stay behind under any circumstances “for maintenance.”

For his part, Cunningham told Churchill that the operation was “fraught with great risks,” a concern that Churchill waved off with the comment, “without risk there is no honor.”

The battle got off to an auspicious start, with the Allied landings at Anzio achieving complete surprise. By midmorning, all of the first day’s objectives had been seized and the Allies held an enclave 15 miles wide and 7 miles deep.

In a decision that has been much criticized since, the Allied ground commander, American Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas, did not immediately advance inland, either northward toward Rome or eastward to cut the roads that led to the German defenses at Cassino.

His orders indicated that his primary assignment was to establish a strong beachhead — the very existence of which, he had been assured, would compel the Germans to fall back. Because of that, Lucas established a strong perimeter and focused on getting the harbor at Anzio into a state of repair to receive more men and supplies.

By the end of the first day, the LSTs and transports had successfully landed 36,000 men and 3,200 vehicles at Anzio with few casualties.

land yachting normandy

U.S. Army Engineers haul a roll of wire mesh into position to make a beach roadway, at Salerno, circa September 1943. LST-1 is in the center background. (National Archives)

Surprised as he was, though, Kesselring did not consider a retreat. He believed he could hold the Gustav Line and pin down the Allies at Anzio.

Rather than withdraw forces from Cassino, Kesselring brought two reserve divisions from Rome and summoned additional forces from Yugoslavia and France. Within days he had concentrated elements of eight divisions around the Allied enclave without weakening his forces on the Gustav Line.

Gen. Clark’s Fifth Army hammered away at that line, but with little success, and as a result there was no link up between Clark’s army and Lucas’s two divisions at Anzio. The Germans thus held an interior position between two Allied fronts and were able to choose where to defend and where to attack.

Kesselring decided to attack Lucas. On the last day of January, he sent columns of tanks and infantry against the Allied enclave (which Hitler called an “abscess”) in an effort to drive the invaders back into the sea. The Allied lines bent under these sustained blows, but they did not break.

In addition to hard fighting ashore, one reason the Allies held fast was that the LSTs and other supply ships brought in a continuous flow of fresh troops and supplies. Throughout February 1944, convoys of LSTs left Naples every day carrying reinforcements plus trucks loaded with food, gear, and ammunition. When they arrived at Anzio, the men disembarked and the loaded trucks drove ashore. Other trucks filled with Allied wounded and Axis POWs took their place, and the LSTs retracted from the beach to head back to Naples to repeat the process.

The LST crews labored around the clock. They were either loading, unloading, or underway virtually all of the time, and while doing so, were almost always under air attack.

Theodore Wyman, the first lieutenant on LST-197 , recalled that, “We were so damnably tired that we just didn’t have time to be bothered about being tired.”

Soon enough the LSTs began sending crewmen ashore at Naples who were afflicted with “combat fatigue” and “shell shock,” terms then used to describe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After the war Wyman asserted that of the five operations his ship participated in from North Africa to Normandy, “it was the Anzio Campaign that took the most out of us.”

But the supplies got through, and, because they did, the Allies at Anzio held on.

Of course holding on had never been the objective. Churchill was frustrated and distraught that his cat’s paw had failed to open the road to Rome. An operation that was supposed to end the stalemate and enable Allied soldiers to charge up the Italian boot had instead turned into yet another bloody battle of attrition.

land yachting normandy

A mobile crane lifts a crate during pre-invasion loading in an English port, circa late May or early June 1944. USS LST-374 (center) and USS LST-314 (extreme right) are at the ramps in the background. LST-314 was sunk by German motor torpedo boats on 9 June 1944. (National Archives)

The impact of this disappointment rippled throughout the European Theater.

When Eisenhower arrived in England to take up his new assignment as Supreme Allied Commander, he already knew that the lack of LSTs would pose a critical problem, even without the added pressure of sustaining the Anzio beachhead.

British Maj. Gen. Frederick E. Morgan, who had led the team that compiled the original plan for Overlord, had based all his calculations on a three-division assault, mainly because he had been told by the Combined Chiefs of Staff there would be sealift sufficient for only three divisions.

From the start, however, Eisenhower knew that three divisions would not be enough to break through Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. After all, he had used seven divisions to invade Sicily. He therefore directed that the plan be rewritten to accommodate a five-division sea assault plus two airborne divisions. That meant a dramatic expansion of landing craft—in particular the all-important LSTs. On January 23, the day after Lucas’s two divisions went ashore at Anzio, Eisenhower wrote the Combined Chiefs in Washington to insist that in addition to the 230 LSTs Morgan had called for, he needed 47 more.

Grudgingly accepting Eisenhower’s math, the Joint and Combined Chiefs sought some way to direct LSTs to England from other theaters. Eisenhower suggested that perhaps the LSTs in the Mediterranean could be replaced by attack transports so the LSTs there could be sent to England for Overlord.

The Joint Chiefs had a different suggestion. They proposed sending 26 new LSTs from the United States to the Mediterranean, if theater commander Jumbo Wilson agreed to send 26 of those he now had to England.

Quite reasonably, Wilson wondered why it would not be easier simply to send the 26 new LSTs directly to England. Only then did the Joint Chiefs reveal that the new LSTs in question were still on the building ways and would not be available until the end of May. That would make their arrival too late for Overlord, though as far as Wilson was concerned, it made them too late for the defenders of Anzio as well.

There was no escaping the numbers. Without additional LSTs, Eisenhower would not have enough to sustain the invasion force at Normandy.

He wrote to Army Chief George C. Marshall that while there would be enough LSTs for the first three tides; after that, “we will have no repeat no LSTs reaching the beaches after the morning of D plus 1 until the morning of D plus 4.”

In other words, the Allied invasion force would be stranded on the Normandy beaches for three days without the means to reinforce, resupply, or evacuate — an unacceptable outcome.

land yachting normandy

Army reinforcements disembarking from LSTs form a graceful curve as they proceed across coral reef toward the beach.Laudansky, Saipan, ca. June/July 1944. (National Archives)

The solution was two-fold.

First Allied planners postponed the date for Overlord by a month, from the first week of May to the first week of June. That would provide American shipyards extra time to build as many LSTs as possible. As Eisenhower wrote to Marshall, “one extra month of landing craft production, including LSTs, should help a lot.”

Second, they decided to postpone the planned simultaneous landing in southern France, called Anvil. Eisenhower was less pleased by this decision, as he had counted on the landings in southern France to distract the Germans from the Overlord landings.

“It looks like ANVIL is doomed,” he wrote in his diary on March 22. “I hate this.”

In the end, the delays gave Eisenhower just enough LSTs to carry out Overlord, but it was a near-run thing.

Churchill’s enthusiasm for the Italian “cat’s paw,” and his overly optimistic assumptions about how the enemy would behave in reaction to it, postponed and very nearly derailed the greatest operation of the war.

The Allies did eventually break out of the Anzio beachhead and advance on Rome. American troops entered the Eternal City on June 4.

Two days later other Allied forces landed in Normandy.

land yachting normandy

Two Coast Guard-manned LSTs open their great jaws in the surf that washes on Leyte Island beach, as soldiers strip down and build sandbag piers out to the ramps to speed up unloading operations, 1944. (National Archives)

Craig L. Symonds is the Class of 1957 Distinguished Professor of American Naval History at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and the author or editor of 25 books on Civil War and naval history. This essay was adapted from WORLD WAR II AT SEA: A Global History by Craig L. Symonds. Copyright © 2018 by Craig L. Symonds and published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. It initially appeared in World War II Magazine , a sister publication of Navy Times . Subscribe today !

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Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day

By: Jesse Greenspan

Updated: March 13, 2024 | Original: June 6, 2014

(Original Caption) On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the greatest amphibious attack in history to punch holes in Hitler's "Atlantic Wall". Six Allied combat divisions successfully penetrated the German network of traps and fortification to open the continent for a massive invasion that was the beginning of the end of World War II. UPI news map shows how the D-Day attack was carried out against a 60-mile stretch of the Normandy coast. The Americans stormed the beaches with code names "Omaha" and "Utah", while the Canadians took "Juno" and the British handled "Sword" and "Gold" beaches. More than 200,000 troops took part in the Normandy landings, designed to cut off the vital port of Cherbourg on the Cotentin Peninsula from the rest of Nazi-held France.

It's widely agreed among historians that D-Day , which began June 6, 1944, marked a turning point in World War II . The Allied operation, code-named Operation Overlord, sent some 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops to assault on five German-occupied beaches along a 50-mile stretch of France's heavily fortified Normandy coast. One of the largest and most extensively planned amphibious military assaults in history, it led to the liberation of France and, ultimately, the rest of Western Europe.

The westernmost of the D-Day beaches, Utah was added to the invasion plans at the 11th hour so that the Allies would be within striking distance of the port city of Cherbourg. In the predawn darkness of June 6, thousands of U.S. paratroopers dropped inland behind enemy lines. Weighed down by their heavy equipment, many drowned in the flooded marshlands at the rear of the beach, and others were shot out of the sky by enemy fire. One even hung from a church steeple for two hours before being captured.

Those who landed, meanwhile, often found themselves outside of their designated drop zones. Forced to improvise, they nonetheless succeeded in seizing the four causeways that served as the beach’s only exit points. On Utah itself, U.S. forces landed more than a mile away from their intended destination, due in part to strong currents. Luckily for them, this area was actually less well protected. “We’ll start the war from here!” U.S. Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the son of former President Theodore Roosevelt , shouted upon realizing the mistake. By noon, his men had linked up with some of the paratroopers, and by day’s end they had advanced four miles inland, suffering relatively few casualties in the process.

Omaha Beach

Surrounded by steep cliffs and heavily defended, Omaha was the bloodiest of the D-Day beaches, with roughly 2,400 U.S. troops turning up dead, wounded or missing . The troubles for the Americans began early on, when Army intelligence underestimated the number of German soldiers in the area. To make matters worse, an aerial bombardment did little damage to the strongly fortified German positions, rough surf wreaked havoc with the Allied landing craft and only two of 29 amphibious tanks launched at sea managed to reach the shore. U.S. infantrymen in the initial waves of the attack were then gunned down in mass by German machine-gun fire. The carnage became so severe that U.S. Lieutenant General Omar Bradley considered abandoning the entire operation.

Slowly but surely, however, his men began making it across the beach to the relative safety of the seawall at the foot of the bluffs and then up the bluffs themselves. Assistance came from a group of Army Rangers who scaled a massive promontory between Omaha and Utah to take out artillery pieces stashed in an orchard, and from U.S. warships that moved perilously close to shore to fire shells at the German fortifications. By nightfall, the Americans had carved out a tenuous toehold about 1.5 miles deep.

Owing to the direction of the tides, British troops began storming Gold, the middle of the five D-Day beaches, nearly an hour after fighting got underway at Utah and Omaha. The Germans initially put up robust resistance, but in sharp contrast to Omaha, an earlier aerial bombardment had wiped out much of their defenses. British warships also proved effective. The cruiser HMS Ajax, for example, displayed such pinpoint accuracy from miles away that it apparently sent one shell through a small slot in a German artillery battery’s concrete exterior—the military equivalent of a hole-in-one.

On shore, meanwhile, armored vehicles known as “Funnies” cleared away minefields and other obstacles. Within an hour, the British had secured a few beach exits, and from there they rapidly pushed inland. They also captured the fishing village of Arromanches, which days later became the site of an artificial harbor used by the Allies to unload supplies.

At Juno, Allied landing craft once again struggled with rough seas, along with offshore shoals and enemy mines. Upon finally disembarking, Canadian soldiers were then cut down in droves by Germans firing from seaside houses and bunkers. The first hour was particularly brutal, with a casualty rate approaching 50 percent for the leading assault teams. In the confusion, an Allied tank inadvertently ran over some of the wounded, stopping only when a Canadian captain blew its track off with a grenade. Other Canadians lacked any tank support at all.

After fighting their way off the beach, however, German resistance slowed immensely, and the march into the interior went quickly. In fact, the Canadians advanced further inland than either their American or British counterparts. Though they didn’t quite meet their objective of taking Carpiquet airport, they captured several towns and linked up with the British on adjacent Gold Beach.

Sword Beach

Around midnight, British airborne troops, along with a battalion of Canadians, dropped behind enemy lines to secure the invasion’s eastern flank, just as the Americans were doing near Utah. Within minutes, they had taken hold of Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and nearby Horsa Bridge over the River Orne. Other airborne troops destroyed bridges over the River Dives to prevent German reinforcements from arriving, and they also took out a key German artillery battery in a bloody firefight. The British then landed on Sword at 7:25 a.m., around the same time as at Gold but before Juno.

Although moderate fire greeted them, they soon secured beach exits with the help of the “Funnies.” Moving inland, they connected with the airborne units but faced relatively strong resistance in farmyards and villages. In a late afternoon counterattack, German forces made it all the way to the beach in one location, only to be turned back. The Allies would not be able to unite all five D-Day beaches until June 12.

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Finding the Universe

Travel tales, photography and a dash of humor


2 Days in Normandy: The D-Day Landing Beaches & Mont St. Michel

Last updated: September 14, 2023 . Written by Laurence Norah - 35 Comments

Despite living in France for three years, I didn’t do much sight seeing. So when the opportunity arose to spend 2 days in Normandy, visiting Mont St. Michel and the D-Day Landing beaches in the north-west of the country, we leapt at it.

We didn’t have a great deal of time to play with as we were visiting my parents further south in France, but we gave ourselves a couple of days in Normandy, basing ourselves near Mont St. Michel, with the aim of exploring both that and the Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches.

2 Days in Normandy - Mont St Michel France

Which was what we did. In this post, we’re going to share everything you need to know to spend two days in Normandy, including some tips on where to stay.

We’ve also put some tour options together in case you don’t want to do this all yourself. The closest tour to the itinerary we have described is this one , which departs from Paris, but we have a number of options including tours departing from Bayeux.

Now though, let’s get started with our guide to exploring the Normandy Landing beaches and Mont St. Michel over two days.

2 Days in Normandy

Day 1: visit mont st. michel.

When we visited Mont St. Michel and the D-Day beaches we were travelling from the UK. We took the overnight ferry with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to St. Malo. This meant that we had a good night’s sleep, arriving into France at around 9am local time.

Our guest house was an hour’s drive from St. Malo, and they were fine with us arriving early, so we did just that. After dropping our belongings off and parking the car, our first day was largely spent exploring Mont St. Michel.

2 Days in Normandy - Mont St. Michel

This was, very conveniently, within walking distance of our guest house . This is a handy tip – if you’re going to stay near Mont St. Michel, stay within walking distance.

There’s no way to drive to the island on your own, and if you park there’s a daily fee for doing so (unless you park in the evening when it becomes free). And I’m sure you’d prefer to spend that money on a nice bottle of local cider, or a few glasses of wine, like we did.

There is a causeway to the island, and a free shuttle bus runs from the car park to the island. However, I’d suggest that for your first visit, you walk all the way to the island. The views are gorgeous all the way, and you can really appreciate the magnificence of the island as you get closer to it. Then, you can get the shuttle bus on the way home!

2 Days in Normandy - Bus to Mont St. Michel

The island itself had more on it than I was expecting. There’s a whole village, with shops, two ATM’s, a number of restaurants and of course, plenty of places to buy souvenirs from your visit. There are even hotels on the island, so you can stay over and enjoy Mont St. Michel when the crowds dissipate for the night.

Speaking of crowds, the streets are narrow, so it can get crowded. We visited on a less busy than average day, and it still got tight in places, so I imagine that in summer it must be very busy!

2 Days in Normandy - Mont St Michel reflections square

After stopping for lunch (many places do a menu of the day option for €17 – €20), we followed the street up to the Abbey which crowns the hill. This is the key point of pilgrimage for visitors, and the focal point of the island.

It’s not free to visit the Abbey, with opening hours varying depending on the season. Check the latest opening hours and prices here .

We suggest buying your ticket in advance online here to skip the queues. The online price is the same as buying it in person.

The good news is that entry includes an hour-long guided tour. Tours depart somewhat regularly and are offered in both French and English.

Obviously, we went for the English language option, and had a wonderful tour that taught us about the history of the abbey, the key events that led to its construction and look today, as well as the function of many of the rooms.

If you visit, I’d very much recommend taking the tour to learn a bit about the place. But if there is not a tour going during your visit, you can also purchase an audioguide or just do a self-guided tour with the free leaflet included.

2 Days in Normandy - Interior Mont St Michel Abbey

Finally, once the tour was over, we headed out of the abbey and took the bus back to the mainland, where we had a spot of dinner accompanied by some excellent Normandy cider.

I then spent the evening capturing the sunset over the Mont, which was just gorgeous. So good in fact that I went the next night as well!

Mont St Michel France

Day 2: Visit the D-Day Normandy Landing Beaches

Our second day in Normandy was a busy one. Having had a full day to explore Mont St. Michel at our leisure, we set ourselves the challenge of visiting some of the D-Day landing beaches in France.

There are quite a variety of sights, museums, memorials and attractions to visit, but we only had a day, so put together an itinerary that we felt was going to give us a good overview of the area and history. Here’s what we did, which we think makes for a good day of exploring the D-Day landing beaches and museums.

1. Utah Beach & Utah Beach D-Day Museum

We started by visiting Utah beach, where there is an excellent D-Day museum dedicated to the landings at Utah Beach.

From our research, this was indicated to be one of the best D-Day landing museums, and even though time meant we didn’t visit any of the others, it was certainly an excellent way to start our journey.

Utah Beach Memorial

With a focus on the events at Utah Beach specifically, one of the US landing beaches, the museum went over the key highlights of 6th June 1944, including the planning leading up to it, and the story of the day itself.

There was an excellent video about the day, oral histories as well as objects and vehicles that were used.

Most impressive of these is an original B-26 bomber, one of six surviving in the world, and of the same type as those used during the bombing runs that happened in the moments before the men landed on the beach.

Utah beach museum

We then spent some time on the actual beach, and viewing the various memorials. It’s hard to really visualise what it must have been like here all those years ago, and I have to say that visiting the museum was a really worthwhile way to get a really good overview of how it was.

Utah Beach Memorial

We then had a break for lunch in the wonderful Le Roosevelt Cafe, built around a bunker which housed a German communications center. Then, we headed on to:

2. Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Found in Coleville-Sur-Mer, and managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Normandy American Cemetry and Memorial is the final resting place of over 9,000 US military personnel, the majority of whom lost their lives either during the D-Day landings, or in the days and weeks following the landings.

American War Cemetery Normandy

It was the first US WW2 cemetery on European soil, and was established as a temporary location on the 8th of June – two days after the landings started – a necessity given the high casualty rates, particularly at nearby Omaha Beach, which was the most heavily defended of all the landing locations.

American War Cemetery Normandy Theodore Roosevelt

Today, there is a visitor center, a memorial, chapel, and of course, the cemetery itself, all of which are free to visitors.

The visitor center is excellent, telling the story of the landings with a focus on the personal stories and losses of the people involved, particularly at Omaha beach.

It’s very worth taking some time to fully explore this. Then, of course, the cemetery is a sombre reminder of quite how many people died in this conflict.

3. Omaha Beach Monument

From the War Cemetery we headed back down to Omaha Beach itself, and the monument to the D-Day landings.

There are actually two installations here – the huge monument itself, and a huge stainless steel art installation known as “The Braves”, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the landings.

Omaha Beach Memorial

Both are worth looking at, and of course, you’ll want to spend some time here on the beach as we did, casting your mind back across the decades, and just trying to get a tiny idea of the horrors that were witnessed here.

4. Pointe Du Hoc

Our last stop on our D-Day Landings Day was Pointe Du Hoc. This is a rocky cliff top area, the highest point of land between Utah and Omaha beaches, and during WW2, was a heavily defended German installation and lookout point.

It was thought that the destruction of this stronghold was going to be critical to the success of the D-Day landings, as the six 155mm guns that were believed to be installed here could have wreaked devastation on forces landing at both Omaha and Utah beaches.

American Battle Monument Point Du Hoc 3

To accomplish this mission, a 225 strong force of US Rangers was dispatched in the early hours of June 6th, with the mission of scaling the 100ft cliffs and destroying the 155mm guns.

As it turned out, the guns had all been moved to a nearby orchard to protect them from Allied bombardments, so whilst the rangers did find them and destroy them, the risk was not as great as first thought. The battle for Pointe Du Hoc was also costly, with 70 percent casualties, so even though deemed a success, it was with a brutal loss of life.

American Battle Monument Point Du Hoc

Today, Pointe Du Hoc serves as a monument to the Rangers who fought here. Other than the encroachment of nature, the site is not much different today to how it was when the Rangers landed.

Many of the original concrete bunkers, bomb craters and installations are still in place, and you can freely wander the area, and marvel at the challenges that must have faced the men landing here, from the rough seas to the 100ft cliffs to the barbed wire.

There is also a visitor centre, although it had just closed when we arrived. If it is something that interests you though, you can check the opening hours here to be sure that you schedule your day appropriately.

 American Battle Monument Point Du Hoc 2

Pointe Du Hoc was the last stop on our tour of the Normandy D-Day beaches. It wasn’t the sort of day that fills you with joy, but I certainly learnt a great deal, and left with a heightened sense of admiration and respect for the many people who gave their lives so Europe and the world could be free.

Now, on to answering some questions you might have, as well as some practicalities.

Where we stayed in Normandy

There are lots of options for accommodation at Mont St. Michel. We found ourselves a little chambre d’hote , which is the French equivalent of a B&B.

This was excellent value, and within walking a half hour’s walk of Mont St. Michel – and more importantly, a ten-minute walk to where I was able to get photos like this:

Mont St Michel sunset Vanguard

We actually found that there are lots of these in the Mont St. Michel area, you can see Mont St Michel listings here on booking.com

There were three Chambres D’Hotes near each other, including the one we stayed at , with a price for two people, including breakfast, usually in the region of €70 – €120. Definitely an option worth investigating.

How To Get Around Normandy

Since we took the ferry, we were able to take our own car to France. This was very handy, and definitely meant we got to see everything we wanted to see at our pace.

I’d definitely recommend a car as the best option to get as much in as you can for your trip. If you’re coming from the UK, Brittany Ferries operates to a number of destinations in France, with Cherbourg, St. Malo and Caen likely to be your best options for a trip like the one we did.

If you’re looking to hire a car in France, then we recommend Rentalcar’s car rental price comparison tool . It checks all the major car hire companies and we find it usually comes up with the best deal.

Tours of Normandy and the D-Day Beaches

If you would rather not have the hassle of planning your car hire or hotels, it’s also possible to visit the D-Day beaches and Mont St. Michel on a guided tour. This will also carry the benefit that you will have someone on hand to explain the significance of what you are seeing.

It is possible to do this as a day trip from Paris, however the day trips will focus on either Mont St. Michel or the D-Day Beaches, as doing both would be challenging in a day from Paris. There are however two day (and longer) tours like this which cover both sights. Here are some options:

  • A 1 day tour from Paris of Mont. St Michel , which includes transport and your entry ticket
  • A 1 day tour from Paris of the Normandy D-Day landing beaches , which includes transport, museum entry and guide
  • A 2-day tour of Normandy, Saint Malo and Mont St Michel from Paris , which includes transport, overnight 4* accommodation, some meals, a guide, and entrance fees. This would be our recommended option from Paris if you have the time as it covers many of the locations in our guide.

There are many more tours to choose from, you can see a selection on Viator here , and GetYourGuide here

These tours all run from Paris as this is the most popular departure point. However, there are also tours from Bayeux in Normandy, which you can reach by a 2.5 hour train from Paris. In this case, we’d suggest booking a 1 day tour of the D-Day beaches, and a 1 day tour of Mont. St Michel. Here are some options:

  • A 1 day tour of Mont St. Michel , including transport and guide
  • A private 1 day tour of Mont St. Michel , also including transport and guide. This is a similar tour with departure from either Caen or Bayeux.
  • A 1 day small group tour of the D-Day beaches , with a particular focus on the beaches used by the American forces.

Getting To Normandy from the UK

As mentioned above, we took the ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo (and back again!) with Brittany Ferries .

We had a four berth cabin on both crossings, which was particularly handy for the night crossing to France as it meant we could have a good night’s sleep. Each cabin also includes a sink, toilet, and shower so you can arrive feeling refreshed.

Brittany Ferries Cabin Bretagne

The boat was also well equipped, and we enjoyed an excellent dinner on board on our way to France, and a lovely lunch on the day crossing back. In the evening, after our dinner, we went and watched the cabaret show (and partook of the excellent bar!), with Jess having a huge cocktail and me going for a slightly simpler beer option.

Brittany Ferries Dinne Bretagne

Jess also got involved in the magic show (this seems to happen to her a lot!), as a man rather worryingly stuck a sword through her throat. This was a lot of fun, and overall, we’re happy to recommend the Brittany Ferries experience to anyone looking to travel to and from the UK by ferry with a car.

Bretagne Ferry Brittany Ferry crossing

Further Reading for your Visit

We’ve written more about France to help you plan your visit to this lovely country. Here are some resources we think you’ll find useful:

  • We have a 2 Day Paris Itinerary as well as a 3 Day Paris Itinerary
  • We also have a guide to spending a day in Paris , if you’re on a really tight schedule and just want to focus on the highlights
  • Our guide to the Best Photography Locations in Paris
  • A full review of the Paris Pass , to help you save money on your visit, as well as a review of the Paris Museum Pass
  • A guide to the best afternoon tea in Paris
  • A guide to choosing the best Seine Boat River tour
  • A guide to recognising and avoiding common Paris scams

And that pretty much wraps up our two days experience in Normandy! Have you ever visited the sights in the article? Have any tips or experiences to share? Let us know about them in the comments below!

Cloudy exterior Mont St Michel France

So you know, we received complimentary tickets from Brittany Ferries to and from the UK for two people and a car. All other expenses, including meals and drinks on the boat, as well as our accommodation and activities in France, we covered ourselves. As always, you can read our code of ethics to find out how we choose to work with!

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There are 35 comments on this post

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Michael Giblin says

11th January 2024 at 5:18 am

Hi Jessica Thanks for the interesting article, especially the links to other information. We plan to go to France in Septembers, spend 6 nights in Paris then take the train to Bayeux rent a car and spend 3 days visiting the Normandy sites then spend 3 nights in Tours visiting the Loire Valley. Then take the train To Paris and head home. Your travel log is really helpful because after reading yours and many travel logs, we realize we can rent a car and do self-guided tours and go at our own pace. My wife speaks French so that will be a big help. Thank you.

Laurence Norah says

13th January 2024 at 2:00 pm

It’s our pleasure Michael, have a wonderful trip to France and do let us know if you have any questions!

Eileen Cowley says

9th September 2023 at 2:08 am

I love all this wonderful and insiteful information about a 2 day Normandy visit. We will visit Mont St. Michel on the 1st day, and the beaches you recommended on the second. Should we stay 2 nights in the hotel close to St. Michel. or check out, visit the beaches and choose another location close to Point de Hoc? Thank you!

10th September 2023 at 3:05 pm

Thanks very much! So I would probably recommend checking out and moving on so you don’t have to drive backwards and forward so much. Of course, it will depend a bit on your overall itinerary, but personally I’d find somewhere closer to where you’ll be visiting on your second day.

Have a lovely time in France, let me know if you have any more questions!

Linda Karol says

16th July 2022 at 8:07 pm

Hello! My so is in the Air Force and was recently involved in the DDay Reinactment. I will go onto your Facebook site and post some of his pictures for you.

21st July 2022 at 7:54 pm

Thank you very much Linda 🙂

26th June 2022 at 8:49 pm

we are staying in Dol De Bretagne for a week ( arriving in st Malo) then driving up to normandy on the Friday so we can see the D Day beaches etc before getting the ferry on the Sunday from Caen back to the UK. we will have 2 days and your itinerary has been big help , where do you think the best place to stay is please ? Caen ? Bayeux , or somewhere else. we need to be at Caen for 7.30 on the Sunday morning for the ferry so don’t want to have to travel too far to get there. we are leaving Dol early fri morning so will have 2 full days . thanks for your help

27th June 2022 at 9:50 am

I think either Caen or Bayeux would work. Caen would obviously be easier for your early morning ferry, so I might opt for that, and it’s not too far to the majority of beaches. There are also lots of accommodation options in Caen as you can see here .

Have a great trip and let me know if you have any more questions!

Nicolas Mata says

14th June 2022 at 2:31 pm

Very educational. By the way, how did you create your own blog?

14th June 2022 at 4:19 pm

Thanks Nicolas! I created it initially back in 2010 using Google’s free Blogger service. Then I migrated to a paid service using WordPress. We actually have a complete guide to starting a blog , which you might find interesting 🙂

Patricia says

6th June 2022 at 5:15 pm

Fantastic comments and beautiful photos. Thank you

6th June 2022 at 5:50 pm

Thanks very much Patricia!

Stuart Robertson says

20th April 2022 at 6:55 pm

As the majority of troops to land on D-Day were British, it’s a shame you visited exclusively American sites. For information, Omaha was not the most heavily defended beach, Sword was.

20th April 2022 at 7:55 pm

Thanks for your comment! As my wife is American and had family members who took part in the landings, those were the beaches we chose to visit as they had the most personal connection to us. My grandfather was British, but I believe his war was primarily in Italy. Of course we are grateful for all their service, but don’t feel they would think any the less of us for which beach we visited. Hopefully we will be able to return soon and see more of the landing locations.

In terms of Omaha vs Sword, do you have a citation for that? The Imperial War Museum website here state that Omaha was the most heavily defended of the beaches, but I would add I am happy to change the information if there’s a more authoritative source.

Thanks again for your comment!

Linda Hyers says

4th March 2020 at 9:43 pm

We are going to Paris mid July and want to go to Normandy & St Michel. Looks like most of the tours leave on Thurs. we need to tour on Tues-Friday. Any ideas?

5th March 2020 at 2:05 pm

Hmm, that is a bit of a conundrum. I have a few options for you, depending on your budget.

First, there are a number of private tours you can take, where the day is less relevant. However, these are definitely more pricey. There are quite a few options listed on Viator, such as this one .

You might also try reaching out to Context Travel who do custom private tours of Normandy here . You get a 10% discount with our link too.

If the above options are out of budget, I have another idea.

You could take a 1 day tour of the Normandy Beach locations, like this one .

The advantage of the above tour is that is actually starts in Caen train station, not Paris, so you are not paying for a return trip to Paris as part of the tour. Instead, you would need to book your own train ticket to Caen. The fastest train takes around 2h – 2h30, so if you get an early train you can be in Caen by 9am.

You would then take the full day tour of the D-Day beaches and sights, which are harder to see without a tour or if you don’t have your own transport. You can then overnight in Caen, or head on to Mont St. Michel.

There’s a direct bus from Caen to Mont St. Michel, which takes around 3 hours. You can book this online. You can then spend the day exploring Mont St. Michel before heading back to Paris.

I appreciate this would be a bit more work on your end, but it would be much more cost effective than a private tour, and you would only need to book your train / coach tickets. You can book both of those in advance here .

Let me know if you need any further advice, I’m happy to help!

22nd February 2020 at 2:47 pm

Hi !!! Love the way you write and off course your photografy! My soon to be 15 year old son wants a trip to the D day beaches. We will be in London for 6 days then Paris for two days then we plan to be in Normandy for two days and we want to make sure we see Mt St Michel and the D day beaches! (Great suggestions from you on the aviator tours for 1 day only on those- we most probably book that) Is any way we can go from there back to London (to depart to the US) with out going back to Paris? Somebody suggested the ferry but then is there a train to London ? We obviously won’t have a car.

22nd February 2020 at 2:54 pm

Thanks very much Maria!

So yes, you can definitely take a ferry from Normandy or Brittany to the UK. Ferries depart from Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre or Saint Malo and go to Portsmouth, and then it’s easy to take a train from Portsmouth directly to London, it takes around 2 hours. There’s also plenty to see in Portsmouth!

A couple of guides you might find useful:

This guide to getting from Paris to London, which actually has ferry information for all the major ports you should find helpful: https://independenttravelcats.com/how-to-get-from-london-to-paris/

This guide to things to do in Portsmouth: https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/things-to-do-in-portsmouth-uk/

Let me know if I can help any more, and have a great trip!

Kristi says

12th February 2020 at 1:07 am

This info is fantastic. We’re planning a trip in June from London into Paris, then Normandy. Frankly, Normandy is to be our highlight, as its my husband’s 50th and its a bucket list item. We are taking our three kids (8,12, 14) and all love history. I’m doing my homework and came across your site. Thank you for this info. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to see both MSM and the American beaches/cemetery/museum. should we have a hub in Caen? We do want to take our time in the Normandy region and not be too rushed. Thank you!!

12th February 2020 at 1:35 pm

Thanks very much! I would definitely recommend having a base somewhere so you can have at least two days to explore. You’ll need at least a full day for the D-Day sites, and at least half a day for MSM. We based ourselves near MSM, but that was purely because I love photography, so I wanted to be within walking distance of the Mount at sunset and sunrise! Caen would make a great base for both, easy for the beaches and other D-Day sites, and within easy driving distance of MSM. It’s also accessible by direct train from Paris in 2 hours, which is going to be the fastest way to get there, and then you can hire a car in Caen.

Let me know if you have any more questions, I hope you have a wonderful trip and happy birthday to your husband 😀

Michelle says

21st October 2019 at 9:49 pm

We are traveling from Paris to Rennes by train. Renting a car and driving to Mont St Michel. I would love to see Dinan but it may possibly be to far “out of the way” and I don’t want to rush MSM but a few hours should be plenty there…? I would like to stay somewhere near MSM for one night. Then the next morning drive to Bayeux and DDay beaches staying in Caen to return car and hop on the train back to Paris. Any suggestions of towns to visit or see along the route from MSM to Bayeux? Also any suggestions of towns to stay in near MSM.

25th October 2019 at 4:51 pm

Hi Michelle!

Sorry for the slow response! We’ve been moving house, which has been a bit time consuming, and left us without internet for a while.

Anyway, you are correct, a few hours at Mont St Michel would be more than enough. It’s around an hour from Mont St. Michel to Dinan, so that would be theoretically doable in the same day.

From MSM to Bayeux is only 1h 38 minutes. So I would suggest just heading up that way and straight to the coast and the beaches, which run for a fair distance along the coast north of Bayeux.

For accommodation near MSM, well, you can either stay on the Mont itself, or one of the nearby villages. If you look at the map on this page , you should get an idea of nearby accommodation options 🙂

Have a great trip!

Susan Haydon says

29th May 2019 at 7:42 am

Hi Laurence,

We are off to Normandy this coming weekend. Do you have an approximate cost of entry fees to museums etc. or can you point me in the right direction to find these? Also, I would love to print this article to take with us. Is there a way to print it without all the ads?

Thank you to you and Jess for the excellent coverage of this wonderful location.

29th May 2019 at 10:59 am

So we don’t have a print feature like that – the best option would be to temporarily install an ad blocking extension I think. Alternatively you could copy the text into a word document and delete the ads / images.

For the museums, the prices are quite well hidden, if you can even find the website 😉 They vary, but i would estimate between €8 and €12 euros on average. For example, here are the Utah Museum prices: https://www.utah-beach.com/information/?lang=en

Have a wonderful trip, do let us know how you get on 🙂

29th May 2019 at 12:48 pm

Many thank, will do ????

17th October 2019 at 6:42 pm

I hope you had a great trip. This is too late for your Normandy trip, but in case you use our site in the future, I just wanted to let you know that we finally figured out how to implement a print feature, so you can now print ad and image free versions of all our pages from the print button on the site.

stephane yao says

29th April 2019 at 3:49 am

Hi Laurence, we plan to take on 1 day trip from the mont st michelle to the destination deauville. During this day, is it possible to follow your 3 landing location in 1 day by a rented car?

sincerly Stéphane

30th April 2019 at 5:41 pm

Hi Stéphane,

This is definitely possible as Jess and I did exactly this 🙂 So you shouldn’t have any problems,

8th April 2019 at 11:34 am

Hi there im heading to st.malo at the end of this month with hubbie is there a tour bus r train that culd take us to utah beach and the ww11 memorial that u mentioned thankyou

8th April 2019 at 11:43 am

It’s around a 2.5 hour drive to the D-Day beaches from St. Malo, so most tour companies instead operate from nearer locations like Cherbourg. From St. Malo, most tours are focused instead on Mont St. Michel. So the best option is likely to rent a car and drive yourself as I have not been able to find a tour from St. Malo. It is of course possible that they exist, but you might have to contact the local tourism office in St. Malo for information.

8th April 2019 at 12:03 pm

Thankyou Laurence

betseysheprow says

2nd February 2019 at 7:54 pm

is it possible to get a group guided tour of normandy and is it worth it?

3rd February 2019 at 11:49 am

It is certainly possible, here are two options, this one from Caen, and this one from Paris .

We have never done a tour like this so I can’t comment if it is worth it, but the reviews are positive, and we think that having a guide to help walk you through some of the history can only be a good thing 🙂

Have a great trip

20th April 2022 at 7:13 pm

Do bear in mind its a 9 hour round trip drive from central Paris to Utah Beach. A day trip from Paris is doable but it’s much better to get an early train from St Laxare to Carentan (depart 7am & 2.5 hrs) and then get a tour commencing there (look up Allan Bryson – a great guide).

20th April 2022 at 7:57 pm

This is absolutely true. We definitely feel the train is a better option and ideally folks should spend at least one night as well in the area if possible, if not more!

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11 Useful Things To Know Before Visiting Omaha Beach, Normandy

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Note: The Travel Awaits team regularly updates content to provide the latest, and most accurate information to our readers. The updated content in this article may not reflect the views or opinions of the original author.

Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, lives in legend as the site of one of the most amazing battles of World War II. And what happened here was just part of a vast effort to reclaim freedom. On June 6, 1944, the Allies crossed the English Channel and landed along 60 miles of Normandy beaches to set in motion the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. Operation Overlord included five separate landing zones and 160,000 American soldiers, British forces, and Canadian troops. Code names for the beaches were Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Omaha is often the focus for Americans.

Historians agree that the landing on the stretch of about 5 miles that is Omaha Beach was the most difficult of a day of unimaginable difficulties. This beach turned out to have the largest number of German troops. Allied bombing runs failed to take out German strong points. The beach was riddled with mines and obstacles. Also, stormy weather and navigation issues led to men drowning before they could even reach the beach. Those who gained the beach faced a fortified sea wall and high bluffs from where German artillery rained down on them. But by the end of this Day of Days, the Americans claimed a toehold of about 1.5 miles on the shores of Omaha Beach.

Making the trip to tour Omaha Beach can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will cherish. Here are things to know and things you will want to do. Some are practical tips, and some are places to include in your itinerary. You will be visiting a place drenched in history. The more you know before you go, the more you will be able to grasp the significance of this sliver of beach.

The Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

Sharon Odegaard

11 Things To Know Before Visiting Omaha Beach, Normandy

1. pay your respects at the normandy american cemetery.

The focus of a visit to Omaha Beach today is the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. On a windswept bluff above Omaha Beach, this peaceful cemetery is the final resting place of almost 10,000 American soldiers who gave their lives in the battle for Normandy. The rows and rows of graves attest to the price paid for liberation in one small corner of the world.

The reflecting pool leads to a memorial featuring a tall, graceful sculpture called “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” Large maps of the battles of World War II decorate the memorial walls.

Pro Tip: Allow time to wind your way down the path to the beach. It’s a bit steep but well worth the hike to stand on the landing beach. Look out across the English Channel and imagine the landing craft filled with frightened young men heading for this spit of sand. Once they landed, guns on the bluff rained down massive firepower, coils of barbed wire blocked their way, and the sand was booby-trapped with mines. The soldiers pressed on anyway.

The Memorial Museum at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

2. Plan To Go To The Memorial Museum

A small museum next to the cemetery at Omaha Beach offers displays of uniforms, military vehicles, and even objects of civilians caught in the battles. A well-loved teddy bear reminds you that children, as well as grown-ups, suffered from the fighting. At the museum entrance, an infinity pool leads to the beach and invites you to reflect on what happened here.

Allow about an hour at this museum. If your time is limited, see the cemetery and beach first. If time allows, end your visit at the museum.

The Monument To The Brave in Vierville-Sur-Mer, France.

3. Marvel At The Monument To The Brave At Vierville-Sur-Mer

At the far west end of Omaha Beach, in Vierville-sur-Mer, you’ll find an imposing sculpture called The Brave. The artist, Anilore Banon, said he created this to honor the courage of the sons, husbands, and fathers who faced danger during World War II. These men often sacrificed themselves in the hope of freeing the French people. The “wings of hope” remind us to stand strong for freedom and to speak up against all forms of inhumanity.

The Bayeux War Cemetery in Normandy, France.

4. Visit The Bayeux War Cemetery

The Bayeux War Cemetery near Omaha Beach is a large, beautiful cemetery for Commonwealth soldiers who died in France in World War II , mostly in this Normandy area. More than 4,000 men rest here. Plan a visit here and honor their memory.

The Memorial Museum Of The Battle of Normandy in France.

5. Learn More About World War II At The Memorial Museum Of The Battle of Normandy

This is one of the outstanding World War II museums in Normandy. It’s located across the street from the Bayeux War Cemetery. The Memorial Museum presents in chronological order the events of the battle for Normandy, starting with the D-Day landings and continuing through the summer of 1944.

You’ll find quite a collection of tanks and other vehicles as well as numerous displays of items from World War II both inside and outdoors.

One of the bunkers at Pointe Du Hoc in France.

Olivier de Caen / Shutterstock

6. Trudge Around German Bunkers At Pointe Du Hoc

At the southwest end of Omaha Beach, a picturesque point of land stands high on cliffs above the beach. Pointe Du Hoc is about 8 miles from Omaha Beach, and what happened here is directly related to both the Omaha and Utah landing beaches.

Allies learned that the Germans built bunkers on this land and manned them with soldiers and large guns that could reach Omaha and Utah . American Rangers were tasked with climbing the 100-foot cliffs on rope ladders and silencing these guns. Though many military minds thought this was a suicide mission, the Rangers persevered. They threw their ropes up the cliff and scurried up the ladders in the face of fire. Despite the odds against them, they accomplished their task.

One reason to include Pointe Du Hoc in your itinerary is that the battle site looks today very much as it did in June 1944. Other sites, such as Omaha Beach, were cleaned up, and German bunkers were destroyed. But here, you can enter the bunkers and walk through the craters made by the bombing of the ground.

Pro Tip: In the bunkers, look up at the ceiling. Notice the burned wood, charred by American flamethrowers. Then peer through the lookout slit in the bunker. Imagine the English Channel that’s in your view suddenly filled with hundreds of Allied troops vessels coming straight at you on D-Day.

The writer touring the bunkers at Pointe Du Hoc.

7. Choose From A Self-Guided Tour, A Day Tour, Or A Full-Service Tour

Consider the options for touring Omaha Beach as you plan your trip. You can go on a day tour from Paris, book a tour that leaves from your hotel in Normandy, or tour on your own.

A day tour that includes a 2-hour bus ride from Paris will, of course, leave you less time at the beach. And you spend a lot of time on the bus. Rather than be rushed, stay in the beach area if you have enough time.

You will love staying in the Normandy countryside, and basing yourself near the D-Day beaches will allow you to see more of this fascinating part of France.

So, once you are in Normandy, it’s up to you whether to book a day tour or go around on your own. I have done both. My recommendation is to book a tour. A knowledgeable tour guide makes the area come alive with stories of the soldiers and civilians. And you’ll see photos from World War II to compare with the exact places you stand in today.

Whether you choose a private tour or tour with others is another decision to ponder. I enjoyed a wonderful day with Overlord Tours at the Normandy beaches. Our group of seven people chatted about history as we drove from place to place in the van. And the guide kept up an informative running commentary.

For a deep dive into history, book your own guide. I can recommend Rudy Passera of Normandy American Heroes , who lives in France and is an expert historian.

8. Take The Train From Paris, Then Rent A Car

You will likely be heading to Omaha Beach from Paris. It’s easy to take the train from the St. Lazare station in Paris to Caen. Public transportation in the Omaha Beach area is not well developed. Plan to rent a car from the row of dealers directly across the street from the train station.

Pro Tip: Some bed and breakfasts and tour guides will give directions using GPS coordinates. Check your online maps or a paper map to figure out where you are headed before you start. I had never needed to rely on longitude and latitude directions in the U.S. and found it was easy to get lost.

Downtown Bayeux, France.

Stefano_Valeri / Shutterstock

9. Stay In Bayeux To Be Close To Omaha Beach

About 6 miles inland from Omaha Beach, the charming town of Bayeux is perfect for a stay in this area. Not only is this a medieval wonder with cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes, but it also boasts the famous Bayeux Tapestry and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France.

My favorite hotel is The Churchill , on the main street in the heart of the city. You’ll be able to walk anywhere in town from here. The breakfast in the sunny day room is a big plus, too.

Bed and breakfasts and Airbnbs are plentiful in this region. I can highly recommend 32 Les Bis , a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the town. It’s spacious with comfortable, pleasant décor. The front windows provide a view down to the main street, perfect for watching this town in Normandy wake up in the morning, with locals rushing around and cafes opening up for the day.

On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, President Obama spoke at Omaha Beach and said: “Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness is possible — stop and think of these men. By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought, and won — a piece of Europe once again liberated and free.”

10. Take a Step Back in Time at Maison de la Libération

Take a step back in time to visit the very first house to be liberated by the US troops who landed on Omaha Beach. Maison de la Libération is packed with original 1940s material from families living in the sector.

At this D-Day heritage site, you can join the evening Omaha vigils and learn of its history from visual displays and testimonies from veterans, resistance fighters, and civilians.

11. Discover Bunker WN62

Towards Colleville-sur-Mer beach, you’ll come across the road to bunker WN62 . The barbed wire and beach obstacles are long since removed, but the bunkers built by the German forces in the wake of D-Day are too big to get rid of and the shell holes made by the assaulting American forces are still there to be seen.

At observation post WN62, Apart from two bunkers and tobruks for machine guns, there are two monuments to the 5th Special Engineering Brigade and the 1st infantry division, the Big Red One.

If you go to Normandy, you can walk on this beach and imagine the events of June 1944. You can feel the sand between your toes; the waves lap at your feet. Children will be playing around you, and families will be out for a stroll, enjoying the sun and the sea. We live free of tyranny now, and it’s only fitting to remember those who gave their last full measure of devotion to make this possible.

What Happened During the Normandy Invasion by the Allied Forces?

On D-Day, Allied forces launched the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare that started a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from the German forces. The Allied troops consisted of American and Canadian forces, together with British troops. 

Which Allied Forces Landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day?

The assault troops at Omaha Beach were the U.S. 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division, while German forces involved consisted of the 352nd Infantry Division. The initial assault waves on the coast of Northern France on D-Day were met with heavy losses by the German artillery fire.

What Other Beaches Were a Part of the Allied Invasion on D-Day?

Omaha Beach linked the U.S., British, and Canadian beaches whose code names were Utah Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach. At Utah Beach and Gold Beach, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division and the British 2nd Infantry Division suffered only light casualties.

Were the Initial Landings at Omaha Beach Successful?

No, even though the D-Day landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment, the initial assault didn’t break the enemy lines and the German beach defenses. German artillery and machinegun fire was devastating, the landing craft were hung up on beach obstacles, and enemy positions remained intact.

What Were the Sections of Omaha Beach?

Charlie, Dog White, Dog Green, Dog Red, Easy White, Easy Green, Easy Red, Fox White, Fox Green, and Fox Red were the code names for the Omaha beach sections. The American beaches were assigned to the Western Task Force, while the British beaches were the responsibility of the Eastern Task Force.

Image of Sharon Odegaard

As the owner of the travel blog, Exploring Our World , Sharon enjoys taking her readers on a journey with her. Articles often delve into the history of a place, and by adding in a generous number of photos, she inspires others to explore for themselves. In her early travels, she was most frustrated by coming back home and learning that she had missed a fascinating sight or a hidden gem. Now she helps travelers prepare for a trip by passing along travel tips, pointing out lesser known things to see, and alerting them to enjoyable day trips from major cities.

Her travel articles have been published by Stripes Europe Newsletter and the World War 2 Writing and Research Center. Whether she's discovering more about her hometown of San Diego, California or flying to faraway places, she enjoys sharing with travel lovers around the world.

Home Logo: National Defense University Press

Why Normandy Still Matters: Seventy-Five Years On, Operation Overlord Inspires, Instructs, and Invites Us to Be Better Joint Warfighters

By Bryon Greenwald Joint Force Quarterly 95

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Troops watch activity on Omaha Beach as their LCVP landing craft approaches shore on D-Day, June 6, 1944 (U.S. Army Signal Corps/U.S. National Archives)

T he 50-mile stretch of French coastline running from midway up the Cotentin Peninsula east to the Orne River is hallowed ground for all who cherish democracy and the rule of law and the freedom and economic prosperity those values permit. There, on June 6, 1944, Allied forces conducted an enormous amphibious invasion across five beaches—Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword—that caught the Germans by surprise and initiated the end of Nazi reign over Europe. The invasion not only enabled American, British, Canadian, French, and other forces to join the Russians in defeating Germany, but it also allowed them to advance far enough east to prevent Soviet suzerainty over most of Western Europe after the war. In its success, Operation Overlord ushered in an open, democratically based economic system that has since expanded beyond its meager beginnings and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans.

This article celebrates the success and sacrifice of Operation Overlord on its 75 th anniversary, acknowledges both the achievements and mistakes made in planning and execution, and asks readers to compare the abilities of the current joint force with those of World War II. Geared to those who are familiar with, but not expert in, the critical components of the operation, this article reviews key aspects of the invasion and offers insight into the difficulty of orchestrating such a complicated joint and multinational endeavor at a time when radio communications were in their analog infancy. The article also provides teaching points for emerging military strategists and planners and critiques the operation. Finally, the article asks the reader to question whether today’s joint force could achieve something similar, not in size or scale, but sophistication, even with the benefit of global digital command and control suites.

As anniversaries go, the 75 th anniversary of Operation Overlord holds special significance. As with all the major battles of World War II, it will certainly be one of the last major anniversaries where any of the participants are still living. 1 As such, their sacrifice in that mighty endeavor should not go unnoticed. And although it occurred almost a lifetime ago, the Allied effort to plan and execute the invasion still provides an extraordinary opportunity to examine the difficulty of planning and conducting integrated, all-domain, and joint and combined forced-entry operations against a lethal enemy whose antiaccess/area-denial preparations were immense—something that today’s joint force is just now reexamining after spending nearly a generation in counterinsurgency operations. Finally, as Russia and China continue to act aggressively on the world stage, this anniversary may turn out to be one of the last to occur during the relatively peaceful interregnum in Great Power competition the world has enjoyed since the end of the Cold War. Thus, 75 years after airborne troops leapt into the dark French night and thousands of aircraft and hundreds of warships protected dog-faced soldiers as they spilled from plywood landing craft on to fire-swept beaches, the efforts of our forefathers to plan and conduct Operation Overlord should inspire us, instruct us, and invite us, as a joint force, to improve our ability to plan and execute all-domain operations.

An Inspiration for All

The invasion of Normandy inspires us by its sheer audacity, its enormous size and scale, and, of course, the personal courage of those involved. To describe the invasion as audacious, however, understates the precarious, one-shot, roll-of-the-dice nature of the event. At the tactical level, the Allies prepared for the attack almost within eyesight of German forces. At their closest points, Britain and the European coast are a mere 20 miles apart. Many of the 120 German radar sets clustered from Calais to Guernsey could easily spot ships and aircraft moving in the English Channel. 2 Portsmouth and Southampton, two of the main ports from which British forces would sail, are only 100 miles from Normandy. In today’s strategic environment, that would be the same as launching an invasion from an intermediate staging base like Taiwan toward mainland China or from Kaliningrad to Sweden.

At the operational level, the Germans expected the attack, but could not pinpoint exactly where or when it might occur. Many suspected the Allies would attack across to the Pas-de-Calais, continue through the German industrial base in the Ruhr, and on to Berlin. This avenue offered the most direct route and gave Allied aircraft the greatest amount of loiter time over the invasion area, but it also meant capturing a heavily defended port and fighting through the majority of German forces, including Panzer divisions, in the west. Some senior German leaders, however, suspected that the attack might come elsewhere. The failed Anglo-Canadian attempt to attack the heavily defended port at Dieppe in August 1942 proved just how difficult that approach would be in the future and hinted at an over-the-beach invasion.

Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, in charge of all western defenses from the Bay of Biscay to Denmark, initially leaned toward Calais, but considered a Normandy invasion likely. He focused his attention on what the Allies would call Omaha Beach because its long concave waterfront resembled Salerno, which the Allies had assaulted in September 1943. Even Adolf Hitler had a premonition of an attack in Normandy, but hedged his bet by predicting the Allies would invade in both places. 3 Fortunately, in doing so he unwittingly supported the Allied deception plan designed to make the attack on Calais appear as the operational main effort.

Finally, the assault was strategically audacious. Other amphibious assaults during the war were no less daring, difficult, or deadly, but they were essentially “away games” for both sides, fought by the Allies against second-tier or lesser forces that were unprepared, undersupplied, isolated, or retreating. With Operation Torch in North Africa, the Allies conducted an error-filled assault on Vichy French forces in a secondary theater and later defeated Rommel’s beleaguered army in Tunisia. 4 In Operation Husky , the successful yet flawed amphibious landing on Sicily, the Allies learned the difficulty of transitioning from ship to shore and air to ground against a wounded but deadly enemy. 5 Even in the Pacific, as ferocious as the fighting from Tarawa to Okinawa was, the Americans isolated the Japanese, cut their air and naval support, and pounded them relentlessly with naval gunfire, artillery, and aviation. 6 Victory in those battles was bloody, but never in doubt. Moreover, while all those amphibious assaults carried tactical and operational risks, their outcome was not in question, and beyond North Africa, even their failure could not derail Allied strategy.

The invasion of Normandy, however, was fought on German ground, although their lease on French territory was only 4 years old. And while Hitler’s boasts of Festung Europa (Fortress Europe) and the impenetrable Atlantic Wall were largely just that, once he placed Rommel in charge in early 1944, the defenses improved dramatically. With characteristic energy, Rommel revitalized languid units and layered the coast with hundreds of pillboxes and tank traps, thousands of obstacles, and millions of mines, many deviously placed to be underwater at high tide. 7 And unlike in other amphibious assaults, the Germans could reinforce the assault area with Panzer and other units from as near as the Pas-de-Calais and as far away as the Eastern Front.

Beyond all of these tactical and operational factors, Normandy posed the likelihood of strategic and political failure. If Rommel had succeeded in throwing the Allies back into the Channel, the chance of a follow-on Allied attack within a year or two was extremely remote. While General George Patton’s Third Army was sitting in England in reserve, it would take time to reconstitute losses in landing craft. Besides, not only was Prime Minister Winston Churchill already antsy and given to visions of a repeat of Gallipoli, the Somme, and Passchendaele, with Allied blood filling the Channel, but the British were also running out of men and had started cannibalizing divisions for infantry replacements even before the invasion started. 8 There was simply no more ink in the British well to spill on a second attempt. Operation Overlord was their only opportunity.

Exacerbating an initial defeat in France, any Allied pause to regroup would have allowed Hitler to expand his V-weapons campaign, which was already ravaging London. The combination of the two might have caused Churchill’s government to fall and resulted in a negotiated peace. Finally, an Allied defeat in Normandy would have freed the majority of German units to turn back to the east, where they might battle Russia to a stalemate and possibly a negotiated peace as well. Overlord really was a one-shot effort.

Despite a shortage of British manpower and barely enough transport to conduct the invasion, the size and scale of the operation was breathtaking. Today’s strategists and operational planners can only begin to fathom the magnitude of the combined force and complexity involved in marshalling, moving, and synchronizing its effects in a world where analog communication was difficult and digital technology nonexistent. Crammed into England at over 2,000 camps and airfields were over 1.5 million American and 600,000 British servicemen organized into 20 U.S. and 16 British, Canadian, and Polish divisions as well as scores of other ground, sea, and air forces. Another 37 U.S. divisions were to follow, either through England or directly from America. 9 The initial invasion launched five divisions destined for four nearly contiguous beaches running east to west—Sword, Juno, Gold, and Omaha—and one outlier on the Contentin Peninsula closer to the port of Cherbourg near Utah Beach. Three other divisions followed in trail.

Transporting these forces across the Channel from 171 British ports at night under radio silence were nearly 7,000 vessels operated by almost 200,000 sailors, coastguardsmen, and merchantmen in Operation Neptune , a supporting operation to Overlord that focused on the crossing and beach landings. This armada included 138 destroyers, cruisers, and battleships. These warships provided this fleet’s seapower, but the landpower needed to retake Europe arrived on 46 different types of landing craft, approximately 4,200 in all, including the critically short landing ship tank or “long slow target” capable of carrying half an armor battalion and depositing it on the beach via its massive bow doors. 10 This enormous and diverse force rendezvoused about 13 miles south of the Isle of Wight, in Area Z, or as it was called “Piccadilly Circus,” and led by 300-odd minesweepers, chopped across the Channel in 5 and then 10 lanes averaging about 800 yards wide in search of the midget submarines that marked the boundaries of the invasion area. Ahead of these forces, two U.S. and one British airborne division, 23,400 troops in all, dropped at night to secure key points behind Utah Beach and seal the eastern flank along the Orne River from counterattack. Moving these men were almost 1,400 transports and over 760 gliders (416 with U.S. forces and at least 250 with British). Blasting the far shore and sweeping the skies over this force were nearly 4,500 bombers and 4,000 fighters. By sunset at 10:06 p.m. local time, the Allies had placed over 155,000 men, 1,550 tanks, and 12,500 vehicles ashore. 11

Beyond its size and scope, what one soldier in the German 716 th Static Infantry Division described as a “gigantic city at sea,” the force contained several specialty vehicles that spoke to the value of innovation and organized industrial strength. 12 Operating with the invasion force were Duplex Drive tanks that could swim ashore albeit under the right conditions; Crocodiles, tanks turned into tracked flamethrowers; Crabs, flail tanks fitted with heavy chains on a rotating cylinder that cleared minefields; Bobbins, tanks that rolled out a reinforced canvas road to drive on as they moved forward; Armored Ramp Carriers (ARKs), tanks that carried deployable ramps instead of turrets; and Ducks (DUKWs), 6-wheeled amphibious vehicles for moving men, 105-mm howitzers, and supplies ashore. 13 Finally, chugging along just behind the force were a flotilla of tugs hauling three miracles of modern industry—two artificial floating harbors and a pipeline under the ocean (PLUTO).

Members of American landing party carry comrades ashore from life raft somewhere in Northern France after their landing craft was sunk, June 6, 1944 (U.S. Army Signal Corps)

Given the difficulty expected in seizing a heavily defended deep-water port intact, the Allies, largely through British initiative, decided to bring two enormous ports with them. While logisticians intended to protect all five invasion beaches with “gooseberries” or artificial breakwaters, two beaches—Omaha and Gold—would serve as sites for the Allies two artificial floating harbors, codenamed Mulberries. Consisting of several unique elements, including floating steel pier heads and roadways and massive hollow concrete breakwaters for the inner harbor, these structures consumed about 661,000 U.S. tons of concrete and 100,000 U.S. tons of steel and took 45,000 men 8 months to construct. Although a tremendous storm (June 19–22) destroyed the American Mulberry at Omaha, the British port at Gold Beach survived and proved useful throughout the Normandy campaign. 14 Lastly, if 19 th -century armies marched on their stomachs, modern armies motored forward on petroleum. To keep their highly motorized and mechanized armies moving, the Allies developed and laid hundreds of miles of steel PLUTO. Unfortunately, while engineering marvels, these pipelines suffered from accidents with ships’ anchors and breakage that limited their timely transport of fuel. This shortfall led to an early adaptation of existing transport capacity, the Red Ball Express, as supply officers commandeered 7,000 2.5-ton trucks to transport 4,000 tons of fuel, mostly in 5-gallon jerricans, on one-way highways to supply points in the First and Third U.S. Army areas. 15

Notwithstanding the countless acts of bravery noted over the last generation of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the personal courage demonstrated during Operation Overlord by men at all levels still inspires and serves as an example to us all. From Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower through component commanders and senior leaders, to the engineers, Seabees, medics, and infantrymen that first landed in Normandy, their actions and level of personal responsibility represent our better selves even in the darkest of times.

Consider Eisenhower’s example of humble strategic leadership. At 4:30 a.m. on June 4, he postponed the invasion for 24 hours due to extremely bad weather, knowing that there were only 4 days—the 5 th , 6 th , 19 th , and 20 th —in June that provided the right combination of a late rising moon and early morning rising tide to create the opportunity for a successful assault. Seventeen hours later, as wind and rain lashed the windows of his temporary headquarters at Southwick House near Portsmouth, Eisenhower received a forecast update indicating a mild break in the weather for June 5 and 6. After polling his commanders, he calmly assessed the situation, wondering aloud, “How long can you hang this operation on the end of a limb?” He committed to launch the assault with a final go/no-go weather update at 4:15 a.m. on June 5. At that meeting, after receiving confirmation that the weather break would hold, he announced without any pomp, “Okay, we’ll go.” He then returned to his private trailer where he handwrote a note taking complete and personal responsibility for the invasion if it failed and stuffed it in his wallet. Finally, he visited Greenham Common airfield to meet paratroopers from the 101 st Airborne Division, staying to watch the last of their aircraft take off, saluting with tears in his eyes and knowing that by dawn many of those he met would be dead. 16

Then there was the calmness and clarity of men under fire, men like Rear Admiral John Leslie “Jimmy” Hall, Jr. Known in modern joint parlance as the Commander, Amphibious Task Force, Hall directed the assault on Omaha Beach from the USS Ancon. In the midst of the assault, he cautioned a very anxious Major General Clarence Huebner, Commander of the 1 st Infantry Division, to be patient and let the stalemated situation on Omaha develop further, thereby preventing Huebner or First Army Commander General Omar Bradley from issuing what would have been a disastrous order to evacuate the beach. 17 Another example is Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the Assistant Commander of the 4 th Infantry Division, who landed 2,000 yards off course with the first wave at Utah Beach and calmly decided that “we’ll start the war from here.” 18 Brigadier General Norman “Dutch” Cota, Assistant Division Commander of the 29 th Infantry Division, on landing in the second wave at Omaha Beach, found the men leaderless and not moving. Walking westward under fire, he admonished troops to “get off the beaches,” encouraged the “Rangers to lead the way,” and then, after machine gun fire had stalled an attack, personally led a charge through a gap in the wire and up the bluff east of Vierville-sur-Mer that enabled men from the 116 th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) to outflank German defensive positions at the D-1 (Vierville) draw. Regimental commanders like Colonels Charles Canham (116 th RCT) and George Taylor (16 th RCT) similarly led from the front and exhorted men to advance. 19

The Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs of Pointe du Hoc while dodging German grenades and rifle fire, and lieutenants, sergeants, and privates led platoons, squads, and confused groups of men forward—always forward. Finally, any of the thousands of frightened men who, scrambling to exit their Higgins boats, “tumbled out just like corn cobs off a conveyor belt” and were hit by fire from German machine gun nests covering “Bloody Omaha.” 20 One only has to read the names on the 29 th Infantry Division and Engineer Special Brigade monuments or walk up the slopes behind Omaha Beach about 500 yards to a great granite obelisk engraved with the names of the 627 men from the 1 st Infantry Division who died that day, including 3 names etched in gold signifying that they won the Medal of Honor, to realize that uncommon valor was a common occurrence on June 6, 1944.

Following three Allied airborne divisional drops, five U.S., British, and Canadian divisions assaulted the Normandy beaches (Courtesy West Point Department of History)

Instruction for Today

Despite the passage of time, Operation Overlord continues to offer valuable lessons across a range of critical topics. Chief among these lessons is the importance of getting the overarching war policy correct through coherent and clear-eyed national security policy planning. To paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, senior leaders should avoid turning the purpose of war into something alien to its nature—a mistake many contend the United States made in Iraq. Other lessons include the need to align strategic goals with higher policy ends, the criticality of determining and sequencing of essential tasks, and the value of developing an operational approach to achieve strategic and operational objectives and then planning in reverse from the point of success to ensure forces and actions are arranged, sequenced, and supported appropriately in time and space.

Lessons on Policy Planning and Strategic Alignment. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Operation Overlord stands as an example of what coherent policy, grand and theater strategy, all-domain operational design, and organizational acumen can achieve. At the level of Allied policy, in late summer 1940, with Germany having conquered most of Western Europe and now bombing and preparing to invade Great Britain, U.S. Army and Navy leadership shrugged off decades of planning for a potential war with Japan and came to the conclusion that the survival of Great Britain and its Empire was in the best interest of the United States. As the now historic memorandum sent by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in November 1940 stated, “If Britain wins decisively against Germany, we could win everywhere; but . . . if she loses the problem confronting us would be very great; and while we might not lose everywhere , we might, possibly, not win anywhere .” 21 Thus, despite planning for a war with Japan since 1907, the national security apparatus recognized the greater threat and adjusted its overarching policy accordingly. That the Nation would remain committed to this policy after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor speaks to the quality of analysis and the strength of its conclusion.

This tectonic shift in policy quickly led the United States and Britain to expand senior military staff talks on global strategy and resulted in a series of Allied decisions over the next few years that framed the overall strategic direction for the rest of the war. As they applied to Normandy, these decisions were to avoid negotiated settlements and seek the complete defeat of the Axis nations; defeat “Germany First”; invade North Africa in 1942 instead of attempting a cross-channel attack; resource the Combined Bomber Offensive to attack German forces, resources, and cities; and invade Northwest Europe in 1944. 22 All these decisions demonstrate to contemporary officials, as Clausewitz notes, the importance of understanding the political purpose of war and the need to work hard to get the policy and strategy aligned as correctly as possible. For as the Germans learned, no amount of operational or tactical virtuosity can rescue a military force from bankrupt strategic direction. 23

Lessons on Determining and Sequencing Essential Tasks. Before tackling any of its strategic objectives, however, the United States had to complete a series of essential tasks. It needed to raise, organize, train, and equip the military forces of all four Services (Army, Army Air Forces, Marines, and Navy) to a level where they could fight and sustain a series of global campaigns for years. 24 Before contemplating an attack on Europe, the Americans needed to sustain the British, who were rebuilding their own military after Dunkirk and suffering a 60 percent decrease in foodstuffs and fuel due to the success of the German U-boat campaign against commercial shipping in the Atlantic. 25 Thus, American and British forces needed to win the Battle of the Atlantic before they could ever reasonably consider beginning the necessary logistical buildup to support an invasion of the continent. Finally, the Allies had to win control of the air to allow any invasion force a modicum of freedom of maneuver.

In 1942, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall and his Chief of War Plans, Brigadier General Dwight D. Eisenhower, pressed for a direct attack on the Germans as soon as possible, and certainly not later than 1943. Thus, prior to the decision to invade Normandy, the most instructive decision from both a geopolitical and strategic perspective was Roosevelt’s July 1942 decision to invade North Africa, which he made against the wishes of his military advisers. Hailed by some today as an example of the value and need for civilian control of the military, the decision makes complete sense in hindsight. Roosevelt wanted American troops in combat against the Germans in 1942, but neither the British nor the American militaries were ready to conduct a contested amphibious landing against the Germans on the coast of France. 26 The British, who had already lost several battles to the Germans and who at that point would have to provide the majority of forces, were accordingly reluctant. And as the clumsiness of American operations in North Africa indicated, U.S. troops and their leaders were simply not ready to take on German forces in an amphibious assault. 27 Even Marshall later intimated that the idea of landing 25 divisions in Europe in 1942 might have been “suicidal.” 28 Moreover, as much as General Eisenhower lamented about “wasting resources all over the world,” the fact remained that shipping and amphibious craft, two important resources for globally integrated operations, were in short supply—so much so that in 1944, Eisenhower, as Supreme Allied Commander, requested a 1-month delay in launching Operation Overlord in order to obtain more “long slow targets.” 29

Eventually, the Americans and British overcame their collective difficulties in North Africa and began to prepare for an invasion of Europe. In February 1943, they formed an integrated planning headquarters under the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC), British Army Lieutenant General Frederick Morgan, and selected Normandy as the site of the invasion. In May 1943, as American and British soldiers defeated the Germans near Tunis and captured 275,000 soldiers, their leaders met in Washington, DC, at the Trident Conference and set the date for Operation Overlord as May 1944. In the meantime, they would attack through Sicily and on to Italy with the goal of knocking Italy out of the war and forcing the Germans to send reinforcements to stop the Allies. This decision meant the Allies, in a supporting effort to the overall campaign in Europe, would fight a determined German enemy up the mountainous Italian boot on something of a shoestring as the British and Americans withdrew units and diverted supplies to begin the buildup for the invasion of France. 30

Lessons on Operational Design and Arranging and Sequencing Forces in Space and Time. Although not without issues, the quality of the operational design and joint/combined planning for Operation Overlord offers today’s leaders and planners an excellent example of integrated all-domain operations. 31 As for operational art and design, Allied planners developed an operational approach that envisioned the arrangement of real and fake forces in England such that the Germans viewed the area near Calais as the main objective and reinforced it accordingly with the bulk of their Panzer units. If successful, this action would give the Allies a better chance to get ashore as a coherent fighting force; to defeat a smaller, less powerful German reaction force; and to win the race to build up more combat power than the Germans could bring to bear in the assault area. Then beginning with the strategic guidance to “enter the continent of Europe and . . . undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her Armed Forces,” the COSSAC staff developed a concept of operations that integrated the multifaceted deception story with a three-division assault between the Orne and Vire rivers. In late 1943 and early 1944, Eisenhower and his ground commander, British General Bernard L. Montgomery, assessed the plan and found the force too weak. They drove further refinement and expanded it from three to five divisions, increased the airborne forces from less than one division to three, and added Utah Beach as an objective in order to facilitate capturing the vital port of Cherbourg. 32

Appropriately, the staff identified the key component of the German defense in the west as the Panzer divisions and corps. Known in today’s doctrine as the operational center of gravity, the Panzers were the only force with enough mobility and power to threaten the Allied landings; they were the glue that held the German defense together. The foot-mobile infantry had neither the speed nor the punch to stop the Allies, and the Luftwaffe could not provide significant air support because it was defending the skies over Germany from the Combined Bomber Offensive. To protect the landing sites from armored counterattack, the planners used a combination of information, intelligence, joint fires, and maneuver to fix Panzer units near Calais and impede the movement of other Panzer units into the assault area. 33

First, they reinforced the Fortitude South deception plan by deploying live units to mix with fake ones in eastern England and Scotland and broadcast scripted radio traffic to support the cover plan and augment the action of those units. 34 Second, planners assigned electronic warfare assets, ships, and bombers to execute tactical deception plans (Operations Taxable and Glimmer ) on the night of June 5–6 to trick German radar operators, shore lookouts, and intelligence personnel into believing the Allies were attacking north and east of Le Havre. 35 Third, using Ultra decrypts, overhead imagery, agent reports, and radio intercepts they identified the general locations of several Panzer units and targeted them for bombing, both before and after the assault. 36

Fourth, as part of the Transportation Plan, the Allies used bombers as part of their operational fires to drop the bridges over the Seine and the Loire rivers, essentially carving out a section of France and isolating it from German units to the east and south of the rivers. Fifth, they used air interdiction to destroy railheads and marshalling yards across France to force Panzer units on to roads, where they would consume precious fuel and could be hit by air or subject to sabotage by the French Resistance . In all these air attacks, the British and American air forces were careful to spread out their attacks, striking twice as many targets outside the Seine/Loire area as in it, to mask their intent to land in Normandy. Sixth, to create a tactical deception and assist inbound airborne forces, planners in Operation Titanic dropped special operations forces with amplifiers and recorded combat noise, thousands of rifle and machine gun simulators, and 200 dummy half-sized paratrooper “dolls” or, as the Germans called them, Explosivpuppen , in key areas throughout Normandy to confuse the Germans and draw off anti-paratrooper reaction forces. 37

Finally, planners dropped the 6 th British Airborne Division to the east of the Orne River and Caen Canal to blow up bridges over the Dives River, destroy an artillery battery capable of hitting Sword Beach, and capture the bridges at B é nouville and Ranville, which they did with an amazing glider assault. 38 On the west end of the assault area, the 82 nd Airborne Division secured the key road junction at Sainte-M é re- È glise and two bridges over the Merderet River, while the 101 st Airborne Division captured critical elevated causeways and provided the 4 th Infantry Division with a way across the flooded lowlands and off of Utah Beach.

While fixing German attention on Dover, England, Allied forces consolidated and sailed toward Normandy. Hours earlier, paratroopers and glider forces took off to seize key objectives on the Orne River and Cotentin Peninsula (Courtesy West Point Department of History)

In the end, the combined effect of these actions did indeed delay and impede the movement of Panzer and other units. Even after the Normandy landing, Ultra decrypts confirmed that Hitler remained convinced the main attack was still to come in the area of Calais and would not release the Panzer units there until early August. Closer in, the destruction of the bridges over the Dives River and the defense at the bridge at Ranville forced the 21 st Panzer Division to endure countless air attacks while driving around Caen to attack British and Canadian units from the south instead of more directly from the east. Operation Titanic succeeded in dispersing elements of the first-rate 352 nd Infantry Division and delayed Task Force Meyer (915 th Infantry Regiment) from counterattacking forces struggling ashore at Omaha Beach. 39 Finally, the interdiction of bridges and railheads forced the 2 nd SS Panzer Division, Das Reich, located near Montaubon in Brittany, to travel north toward Normandy intermittently by rail and road. At great risk, the French Resistance blew up fuel dumps, sabotaged rolling rail stock, destroyed rail lines, and organized small ambushes. All told, the Das Reich division took 17 days to move the 350 miles from Montaubon to Normandy, a journey that should have taken just 3 days. 40

Not Everything Will Go According to Plan, Failures to Anticipate and Prepare Will Occur, and Mistakes Will Happen . Despite its ability to deceive, delay, and disrupt the Germans, the Allied assault was not a complete success. As darkness fell on Normandy, the Allies had achieved none of their D-Day objectives other than getting ashore. At Utah, the 4 th Infantry Division had yet to link up with the 82 nd or 101 st airborne divisions. At Omaha, the beachhead was barely a mile deep and the beach itself was a disaster. At Gold, the 50 th British Division after a tough fight had failed to take either Port-en-Bessin-Huppain or Bayeux or link up with the Americans at Omaha. At Juno, the 3 rd Canadian Division advanced farther than any other unit, but failed to secure the high ground near the Carpiquet airfield west of Caen. And finally, at Sword Beach, the British 3 rd Division failed to take Caen.

At the tactical level, the tail end of the storm that initially delayed the invasion and caused the Germans to believe that nothing would happen on June 6 made bombing by sight difficult and sailing in small craft treacherous. But beyond the weather, errors in judgment cost lives and wasted tactical efforts, particularly on hard-fought Omaha Beach. B-24 Liberator pilots forced to bomb using radar and flying perpendicular to Omaha feared hitting the approaching landing craft. As a result, the lead pilots held their fire for an additional 5 to 20 seconds and 450 bombers ended up dropping their 13,000 bombs harmlessly on crops and livestock miles behind the German defenders. At sea, 6,000 meters (more than 3 miles) off Omaha, Army lieutenants and Navy and Coast Guard ensigns discussed the sea state with its 4-foot chop. Some considered it too dangerous to launch their Duplex Drive swimming tanks and artillery-carrying DUKWs that far out. Others debated and made the fateful decision to launch anyway. In one case, 27 of 32 Duplex Drive tanks and most of the artillery foundered and sunk. A number of Soldiers drowned and the Americans lost a great deal of the firepower they needed to suppress the 35 German pillboxes, 8 huge bunkers, and 85 machine gun nests guarding Omaha Beach. 41

Exacerbating these tactical errors were organizational decisions made by First U.S. Army Commander General Bradley that limited the amount of naval gunfire support or specialized armored vehicles available to the troops on Omaha. In the spring, Army Chief Marshall sent Bradley one of the Army’s experts in amphibious warfare, Major General Charles Corlett, from the Pacific. Despite a wealth of advice, Bradley and Eisenhower displayed no interest in learning from Corlett, viewing efforts in the Pacific as “bush league.” Corlett warned Bradley that he did not have enough naval gunfire to support the landings properly or enough ammunition for the upcoming land battles, both of which were ultimately proven correct. Moreover, despite Montgomery’s encouragement, Bradley dismissed the value of flail and other types of tanks offered by the British—only to wish later that he had them at Omaha. 42

At the operational level, intelligence failures influenced events on D-Day and beyond. First, Allied intelligence completely missed or “lost” the location of the 352 nd Infantry Division, a first-rate unit initially thought to be near St. Lô, but which the Germans moved forward in May. On D-Day, it stretched from the Vire River to Arromanches, with at least two infantry battalions and a light artillery battalion bolstering the defense of elements of the second-rate static 716 th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach. Second, the Americans utterly misunderstood the nature of the bocage country that filled the Normandy region south of the immediate beach area. With thick, impenetrable Norman hedgerows and sunken ox-cart tracks bordering thousands of small farm fields, the area was superb defensive terrain that armor could not breach, traditional artillery could not hit, and infantrymen could not enter without coming under withering machine gun and mortar fire. 43 The terrain provided such a series of natural obstacles that a two- or three-man team could defeat a platoon, a platoon might defeat a company, and a company could slay a battalion. The Allies had over 1 million photographs of the Normandy area and hundreds of intelligence reports, including one from April 1944 by Bradley’s First Army that warned that fighting there “be given considerable study.” As Bradley later stated, “I couldn’t imagine the bocage until I saw it.” It was “the damnedest country I’ve ever seen.” 44 One battalion commander was more succinct, noting later that “we were rehearsed endlessly to attack the beaches, but not one day was given to the terrain behind the beaches.” 45 This failure to recognize and react to the potential difficulties posed by the bocage country cost the U.S. Army dearly as divisions were bled white fighting south to the St. Lô-P é riers Road, the jumping off point for the “breakout” on July 25.

On D-Day, U.S. forces suffered approximately 12,000 casualties, including 8,230 Americans. From D-Day until July 31, Bradley’s First U.S. Army took 100,000 casualties, including 9,939 in the 29 th Infantry Division and 7,876 in the 4 th Infantry Division, both of which fought through the bocage . Eighty-five percent of the casualties were infantrymen. 46

Finally, perhaps the greatest failure in planning and leadership was Montgomery’s inability to take Caen, his D-Day objective for the 3 rd British Infantry Division at Sword Beach. Montgomery and his army, corps, and division commanders failed to plan backward from their objective. They did not factor in likely confusion on the beach, consider the likely exhaustion and culmination of their initial and follow-on forces, anticipate German counterattacks by elements of the 21 st Panzer Division, and provide for additional forces to pass through and take Caen. While the Germans certainly had a role to play with their staunch defense at the Hillman strongpoint and along P é riers Ridge, it is clear that the 3 rd British Infantry Division faced too many tasks and suffered too many diversions that frittered away its combat power. 47 In essence, Montgomery, Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey, Lieutenant General John Crocker, and Major General T.G. Rennie ignored the timing and tempo of operations, did not mitigate known risks, and failed to arrange their forces such that they would have the staying power necessary to seize their admittedly ambitious objective in the face of likely opposition. 48 Despite relentless Allied air and r é sistant attacks, the Germans managed to reinforce the area with Panzer forces. In some of the largest tank battles of the war, Montgomery and Dempsey would spend the next 45 days attempting to envelop Caen and capture the key operational terrain on Hill 112 that opened the path to Paris and beyond. 49 Meanwhile, the Americans, due to their own failures to anticipate and prepare for fighting in the bocage, would slog forward, grinding through divisions and wearing down Germans forces until their own breakout in Operation Cobra on July 25.

The study of Operation Overlord teaches today’s commanders and planners that designing an all-domain operational approach that keeps the enemy off balance and synchronizes the integrated joint and combined actions of thousands of aircraft and ships and hundreds of thousands of men under the watchful eyes of the enemy is excruciatingly hard to do, let alone do well. It requires an uncommon level of operational understanding and joint knowledge. Overlord also warns us to expect that our adversaries may be both lucky and good, and as well-equipped and trained as we are. It cautions those conditioned by decades of all-domain dominance against less than first-tier opponents to expect that even the best plans will go awry and, unlike the Americans in the bocage, we should plan and train for that eventuality as well.

In the end, success in Operation Overlord was “a close run thing.” 50 It succeeded in part because of America’s overwhelming ability to build and deploy a vast array of ships, landing craft, aircraft, tanks, and artillery; in part because of the individual and collective courage of the Allied servicemembers who fought it on the ground, on the sea, and in the air; and in part because the operational design and combined planning for the invasion synchronized all aspects of Allied capability sufficiently enough to provide the slimmest of margins when it mattered most.

Equipment and armored vehicles, some damaged, stretch across sands in Normandy where Allies seized beachhead, June 6, 1944 (Courtesy AP Photo)

An Invitation to Improve

More than answers, Operation Overlord invites us to ask questions of ourselves and our ability to operate jointly. Specifically, could we do it again? Not in size, but in effect? Could the United States or NATO repeat an operation as complex as Overlord ? Are our generals and admirals, colonels and captains, and perhaps most important, the iron majors and commanders who sweat out the critical details, educated and savvy enough to conceptualize, organize, and synchronize an integrated joint/combined operation of Overlord -like complexity against a peer competitor?

Beyond our ability to conceive, plan, and synchronize such a complex event, the legacy of Operation Overlord invites us to consider if we are ready in unit manpower, equipment, and training readiness to execute combined operations of similar sophistication against Russia, China, or Iran as described in recent discussions of globally integrated operations. Is the Navy seaworthy? Can the Air Force get more than 60 percent of its aircraft airborne at any one time? Are the Army and Marine Corps robust enough to field full-up brigades and divisions without cutting late deploying units to the bone? Are we practiced enough in our Service-based skills that we can even attempt to integrate jointly?

For the joint force, this calls into question whether we can integrate seamlessly above Service level, on the fly, at night, under radio silence, without GPS, just as the forces did in approaching Normandy. Are we resilient enough to take a punch on the chin (like our forefathers did at Bataan, Kasserine Pass, or Anzio) and recover? Or are we too fragile—too unprepared intellectually, too thin in necessary force structure, or too technologically dependent—to win the battles, campaigns, and wars we portend with Great Power competition?

Finally, do we have the requisite mental and command flexibility, organizational diversity, and depth to recover from an adversary’s first bloody surprise moves and fight back to tactical, operational, and strategic positions of dominance? Do we have, as the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations 2030 asks, the “strength, agility, endurance, resilience, flexibility, and awareness” to recover and adapt? Today, are we in a joint “Boxer’s stance” ready to react, punch, and counterpunch, just as the men in Normandy did 75 years ago? Will we be a “globally integrated, partnered joint force that is designed and able to out-think, out-maneuver, and out-fight any adversary under conditions of disruptive change”? 51 Or will we be like the French in 1940, who had none of those qualities and subsequently lost so overwhelmingly that their first battle became their last?

In 1946, General Eisenhower and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz established the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, to capture and teach the joint lessons of World War II—lessons that the Army and Navy (as well as the Air Force and Marines) learned the hard way in the Pacific, North Africa, and Normandy, and sadly have relearned in numerous campaigns since then. Eisenhower later commented that “separate ground, sea and air warfare is gone forever. If ever again we should be involved in war, we will fight it in all elements, with all services, as one single concentrated effort.” 52 In the current era of Great Power competition that demands coherent policy and strategy and excellence in all-domain integrated operations, we can ill-afford to relearn the hard lessons that Eisenhower and Allied forces learned so expensively during Operation Overlord 75 years ago. We must not only continue to teach the joint lessons of World War II and other conflicts, but we must also improve our Service and joint readiness and prepare leaders from all Services to think, act, and behave jointly so that we can plan and execute the next Overlord with some anticipation of success. JFQ

1 Figures from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs displayed by the National World War II Museum indicate that of the 16 million World War II veterans, fewer than 400,000 are alive in 2019, down approximately 100,000 from 2018. Available at <www.nationalww2museum.org/war/wwii-veteran-statistics>.

2 Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War , vol. 6, Triumph and Tragedy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1953), 10.

3 Antony Beevor, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (New York: Viking, 2009), 34, 36.

4 See Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942–1943 (New York: Henry Holt, 2002).

5 See Carlo D’Este, Bitter Victory: The Battle for Sicily, 1943 (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008); Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943–1944 (New York: Henry Holt, 2008). For a personal perspective of both Sicily and the airborne assault into Normandy, see James M. Gavin, On to Berlin (New York: Bantam Books, 1984).

6 See Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett, A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2001), chapters 9, 13, 17.

7 See Murray and Millett, A War to Be Won , 412; Beevor, D-Day , 36–37; and Carlo D’Este, Decision in Normandy: The Real Story of Montgomery and the Allied Campaign (New York: Penguin, 2004), 85, for similar opinions on German preparations.

8 Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War , vol. 5, Closing the Ring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951), 582–583, 710–711; D’Este, Decision in Normandy , 29–30, 252–270; and Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Northwest Europe, 1944 – 1945 (New York: Henry Holt, 2013), 15.

9 Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 18, 21. U.S. forces alone occupied 1,200 camps and 133 airfields.

10 The total force included 138 warships, 1,100 other combat ships, 4,200 landing craft, 221 escorts to protect the convoy, 805 cargo ships, and 59 obsolete craft to be used as breakwaters off of Omaha and Gold beaches. For example, a Landing Ship Tank could carry 20 Sherman tanks, 30 heavy trucks, 40 jeeps, and 350 men.

11 Figures and information compiled from Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 15, 36–37; Murray and Millett, A War to be Won , 420; Craig L. Symonds, Neptune: Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 225–226, 305; and Ken Ford and Steven J. Zaloga, Overlord: The D-Day Landings (New York: Osprey Publishing, 2009). For a detailed description of landing craft, see Symonds, Neptune , 146–170.

12 Beevor, D-Day , 92.

13 For more on Field Marshal Percy Hobart’s tank inventions, see Patrick Delaforce, Churchill’s Secret Weapons: The Story of Hobart’s Funnies (London: Robert Hale, 1998). For more on the DUKW, see the U.S. Army Transportation Museum, available at <www.transchool.eustis.army.mil/Museum/DUKW.htm>.

14 Debate exists as to the cost-benefit of the Mulberries. Craig Symonds contends that the Allies transported just as much over the open shore at Omaha after the storm wrecked the American Mulberry as the British did using the Mulberry at Gold Beach/Arromanches. See Symonds, Neptune , 319–328. The British Mulberry provided service until Christmas 1944 when workers began dismantling it. For a succinct history, see Alain Ferrand, Arromanches: A History of a Harbour (Bayeux, France: OREP Editions, 2007).

15 PLUTO and Red Ball Express info from Atkinson, Guns at Last Light , 240–241.

16 Timeline and passage from Atkinson, Guns at Last Light , 32–36, 40. Atkinson does not mention the 4:30 a.m. final meeting, but it is confirmed in Symonds, Neptune , 240–242; and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). Salute and tears mentioned in Beevor, D-Day , 28. As Symonds (pg. 241) and others note, Eisenhower’s decision was fortuitous as the storm that wrecked Mulberry A at Omaha Beach came on the evening of June 18 and lasted through June 22 and produced weather far worse than that of June 4–5. It is likely that had Eisenhower not launched the invasion, it would not have occurred under any of the conditions desired, at least not in June. This type of delay risked the entire plan as it would have been increasingly likely that the Germans would have picked up on the Allies’ increased preparations as well as deduced the location. Moreover, with the V-1 attacks starting on June 12, it is possible that the Germans may have shifted their targeting from London and focused on the marshalling and port areas, causing, as Eisenhower stated, the invasion to be possibly “written off.” Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe , 260.

17 Symonds, Neptune , 284–289. Bradley confirms that he considered the diversion of follow-on forces. See Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier’s Story (New York: Henry Holt, 1951), 220; Omar N. Bradley, A General’s Life , with Clay Blair (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), 251. For current doctrine, see Joint Publication 3-02, Amphibious Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 2019), available at <www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp3_02.pdf>.

18 Beevor, D-Day , 118.

19 Ibid., 100–103; Atkinson, Guns at Last Light , 73–75; Ford and Zaloga, Overlord , 89.

20 Atkinson, Guns at Last Light , 65–66.

21 For strategists, the entire 26-page “Plan Dog” memorandum is worth reading. It is one of the most clear-eyed strategic assessments of the 20 th century. It is referred to as “Plan Dog” because the option Stark recommended, with Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall’s concurrence, was option “D” or “Dog.” Emphasis in original. See Harold Stark, “Memorandum for the Secretary,” Navy Department, Chief of Naval Operations, November 12, 1940, President’s Safe Files, available at <http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box4/a48b01.html>.

22 The other key strategic decisions were to begin limited offensive operations in the Pacific following the victories at Coral Sea and Midway, begin deliberate offensive operations against Japan, and invade Japan—this last decision made unnecessary by the Japanese surrender following the dropping of two atomic bombs in August 1945. For a short primer on all eight decisions, see Kent Roberts Greenfield, American Strategy in World War II: A Reconsideration (Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company, 1982), 3–48.

23 Carl von Clausewitz, On War , ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 88, 605–608. For a thorough analysis of the integrated nature of policy, strategy, operations, and tactics, see Allan R. Millett, Williamson Murray, and Kenneth H. Watman, “The Effectiveness of Military Operations,” International Security 11, no. 1 (Summer 1986), 37–71.

24 While not the point of this article, the man, train, and equip tasks for all Services were immense and required creation from an almost dead stop. For example, the Army in 1939 numbered approximately 190,000 men. At its peak in World War II, it would reach 8.3 million. The 1940 draft and the beginnings of some rearmament as early as 1938 allowed the Navy and Army to begin to grow, but both departments would quickly become overwhelmed with the organizational requirements of fielding enormous ground, air, amphibious, naval, and air forces for a global war.

25 See Richard Leighton, “U.S. Merchant Shipping and the British Import Crisis,” in Command Decisions , ed. Kent Roberts Greenfield (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1960), 202, available at <https://history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-7-1/CMH_Pub_70-7-1.pdf>.

26 Stalin was also pushing Roosevelt for relief from pressure following the German attack on Russia that began with Operation Barbarossa in June 1941.

27 Atkinson, An Army at Dawn.

28 Minutes, 81 st Meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 14, 1943, cited in Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943–1944, U.S. Army Center of Military History Pub 1-4 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1959), 131.

29 Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941–1942 (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1980), 156, available at <https://history.army.mil/html/books/001/1-3/CMH_Pub_1-3.pdf>.

30 For more on the invasions of Sicily and Italy, see Atkinson, The Day of Battle .

31 Operation Overlord was the codename for the overall invasion of Normandy from D-Day, the day of the first landing, until approximately D+90, when the Allies were to have expanded the beachhead, built up supplies and men, and pushed the Germans back to the Seine River. Operation Neptune was the codename for the all-important landing phase of Overlord in the Cotentin-Caen area.

32 For the strategic direction, see Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe , 225. For an outline of the original three-division plan, its issues, and the changes made, see Albert Norman, Operation Overlord: Design and Reality (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1970), 110–113; D’Este, Decision in Normandy , 55–70.

33 In analyzing this portion of the operation, this paragraph purposely discusses five of the seven joint functions to show their interaction and interdependence. The other two are logistics and command and control.

34 For more on Operation Bodyguard and Operations Fortitude North and Fortitude South , see Anthony Cave Brown, Bodyguard of Lies (New York: Harper & Row, 1975); Roger Hesketh, Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000); and Ben Macintyre, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012).

35 Brown, Bodyguard of Lies , 660–662.

36 Ibid., 690. Ultra decrypts indicated that Rommel appointed General der Panzertruppen Leo Baron Geyr von Schweppenburg to command the growing Panzer army in Normandy once assembled. This could potentially include the 1 st , 2 nd , 9 th , and 10 th SS Panzer Divisions, the 17 th SS Panzer Grenadier Division, the 21 st Panzer Division , and the Panzer Lehr Division. Accordingly, Montgomery decided to find Schweppenburg’s headquarters and destroy it, which the Royal Air Force did on June 9. As James Gavin notes in On to Berlin , it was not hard to locate German senior headquarters. They were usually in a château surrounded by trees, and the roads leading into them had dugouts into the banks on the sides of the road for command and staff cars to park. It seems most Frenchman in Normandy in 1944 had bicycles, not motor vehicles. Gavin, On to Berlin , 87.

37 Ibid., 647–648; Beevor, D-Day , 54.

38 The best book on the glider raid on the twin bridges at Bénouville and Ranville is Stephen E. Ambrose, Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988).

39 Brown, Bodyguard of Lies , 665–666.

40 The Das Reich Division was particularly ruthless in dealing with French citizens and partisans. For more on the Das Reich Division and the French Resistance, see Beevor, D-Day , 165 – 167; and Max Hastings, Das Reich: The March of the 2 nd SS Panzer Division Through France (New York: Henry Holt, 1982) .

41 Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 65, 68; Symonds, Neptune , 254 – 256, 266.

42 Murray and Millett, A War to be Won , 419; Nigel Hamilton, Master of the Battlefiel d: Monty’s War Years 1942–1944 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983), 598, 623; and Bradley, A Soldier’s Story , 221. For Corlett’s opinion, see Charles H. Corlett, Cowboy Pete: The Autobiography of Maj Gen Charles H. Corlett (Santa Fe, NM: Sleeping Fox Publishing, 1974).

43 Traditional artillery had a longer trajectory or arc that made it unsuitable for firing into the less than 8-foot-wide sunken cart paths where German gunners would hide. The small size of each field, usually no larger than 2 acres, meant that the friendly artillery observer calling in fire from the other side of the field had an equal chance of being hit by his own artillery. High-angle mortars were the preferred indirect fire weapon. Finally, the hedgerows themselves, measuring 1 to 4 feet wide and from 3 to 15 feet high, with thick roots and a tangle of branches and brambles, were formidable obstacles. For more on the bocage and U.S. Army efforts to adapt its tactics and technology to the terrain, see Michael Doubler, Busting the Bocage (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, 1988), available at <www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/combat-studies-institute/csi-books/Doubler-Bocage.PDF>; and his Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fou ght the War in Europe, 1944–1945 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994).

44 Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 111; Beevor, D-Day , 252 – 253.

45 Charles Cawthon, Other Clay: A Remembrance of the World War II Infantry (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1990), 76, cited in Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 111.

46 See Doubler, Busting the Bocage , 4 – 5; Closing with the Enemy , 60; Beevor, D-Day , 242, 258. The 4 th ID lost 2,400 casualties from July 6 – 24 after joining the fighting in the bocage . D-Day casualty figure from Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 85.

47 The Périers Road (U.S. zone of attack) and Périers Ridge (British zone of attack) are two separate and distinct locations. Renie’s 3 rd Division attacked on a single brigade front with the 8 th Infantry Brigade. The 185 th Infantry Brigade was to pass through and attack toward Caen, supported by elements of the 27 th Armored Brigade. Portions of the armored brigade became backed up on the beach as the tide moved in, delaying their arrival to pick up the infantry. The 9 th Armored Brigade was held in reserve, but when landed was directed by Lieutenant General George Allen Crocker, the corps commander, to support the airborne forces in the vicinity of Pegasus Bridge. See D’Este, Decision in Normandy , 120 – 150.

48 Ever since the failure to seize Caen on D-Day, Montgomery, some of his subordinates, and some military historians have argued that it was not Montgomery’s intention to do so, but instead to pull all of the German armored forces in against the British near Caen so that the Americans could “break out.” While that is essentially what happened after Montgomery failed to take Caen, it was not his original intent. D’Este categorically proves this point in Decision in Normandy.

49 Montgomery finally succeeded in pushing beyond Caen in Operation Goodwood , July 18 – 20, 1944. The British Second Army began the battle with 1,370 tanks. It lost over 400 in the battle. The Germans had 230 tanks and 600 assault guns and lost 75 tanks or guns total. See Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light , 133 – 137. The Battle of Kursk in western Russia, July–August 23, 1943, was the largest tank battle of the war with approximately 3,000 tanks involved.

50 The original reference was made by Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, about his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. However, it has been used frequently by participants and several authors to describe the nearness with which Operation Overlord came to failure.

51 Department of Defense, Capstone Concept for Joint Operations 2030 , November 1, 2018, Classified, portion cited is unclassified, 1.

52 Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Special Message to the Congress on Reorganization of the Defense Establishment,” April 3, 1958, cited in the New York Times , April 3, 1958.

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To awaken your senses in Normandy - Claire et Manu’s Blog

Visiting the 5 D-Day landing beaches (in Normandy)

by Claire ROBINSON , Region Lovers | September 7, 2023 | no intrusive ads, no sponsored content, just some affiliate links - if you use them, we get a small commission (read more)

Sand, dunes, cliffs… but also bunkers, sculptures and museums. The 5 D-Day landing beaches are a must for any trip to Normandy. Their story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Each of these beaches now has memorials and museums to remember. Here is our complete guide to prepare your visit with:

  • Omaha Beach
  • Sword Beach


land yachting normandy

Our favorite car rental platform with great offers: DiscoverCars

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Must-See : Book your tickets for the Caen Memorial Museum Excursion : Visit the D-Day landing beaches from Paris

land yachting normandy

Our favorite places to stay: Hotel Domain de Bayeux , elegant and central – see photos and availability Hotel Domaine d’Utah Beach , for the north – see photos and availability Hôtel Ferme de la Rançonnière , the charm of the countryside – view photos and availability

visit Normandy landing beaches D-Day

This guide is completely independent , based on our experiences. We visited the area anonymously, making our own choices, and paying all our bills in full.

Visit the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy : Map + tips

The 5 landing beaches – map and introduction.

Operation Overlord, a.k.a. the Normandy invasion, began on June 6, 1944. 5 main areas were strategically chosen by the Allies on the Normandy coast. They cover a section of more than 80km (50 miles). Code names have been given:

  • Utah Beach, the easternmost beach where the American troops landed
  • Omaha Beach where the American troops landed
  • Gold Beach where the British troops landed
  • Juno Beach where the Canadian troops landed
  • Sword Beach where the British troops landed

Here is a short introduction video of each track:

The Battle of Normandy that followed lasted until the end of August.

Here is a map to help you locate them:

Map of Normandy landing beaches France

Which D-Day beach to visit?

Around these 5 beaches, you will find cemeteries, batteries, memorials and museums. They are all fascinating to discover. Depending on your family history, you can choose the one that interests you the most. And if you don’t know about special family ties, here are our opinions to help you choose:

  • Utah Beach is the most fun : an open air museum, a battery and the new D-Day Experience not far away
  • Omaha Beach is the most emotional : the magnificent sculpture on the beach, the intensity of the American cemetery. We didn’t expect to feel so many overwhelming emotions as we stood in front of all these crosses lined up.
  • Gold Beach is the most fascinating visually: the remains of the temporary harbor that appear at low tide, the view from the cliffs…
  • Juno Beach is the quickest to visit – if you’re short on time, the beach and museum are right next to each other
  • Sword Beach is the most strategy oriented – no beach experience here, but the Antaltic Wall Museum in the Bunker is a unique experience and the Pegasus Memorial tells us more about this critical victory.

Representation of the fighting during the landing at Arromanches

How to visit the D-Day beaches in Normandy?

We do not recommend public transportation to visit the landing beaches. There are some local buses, but not very frequent and with many stops for the locals. Your best options are:

  • By car Visiting by car gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing where to go and how much time to spend at each place. You can rent at CDG or Orly airports, or Caen (see our tips ) or your point of arrival in France – note that Bayeux has very few choices (read more ).


  • Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
  • Choose a car that is comfortable enough (distances can be long) but compact (some parking lots and villages are narrow).
  • Think of the complete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
  • There is a lot of demand, book it early .

land yachting normandy

How long to visit the landing beaches

Let’s start by discussing a little bit about the driving times between locations. This will give you an idea of what is feasible:

  • From Caen to Bayeux = 30 min drive
  • From Bayeux to Utah Beach = 50 min
  • From Utah Beach to Omaha Beach Beach = 45 min
  • From Omaha Beach to Gold Beach = 45 min
  • Gold Beach to Juno Beach Beach = 15 min
  • From Juno Beach to Sword Beach Beach = 30 min
  • From Sword Beach to Caen = 20 min
  • Paris to Omaha Beach = 3h30

You can get an overview in one day. But for a more complete vision and to immerse yourself in the history we recommend 3 to 5 days, or even a week if you are passionate.

Tanks on Utah Beach

Which city is the most convenient to visit?

The most convenient cities to stay and visit all the landing beaches are :

  • Bayeux, a charming little town inland see the best hotel offers
  • Arromanches-les-bains, central and at the seaside, it is at the level of Gold Beach see the best hotel offers
  • Caen is the largest city in the area see the best hotel offers


Option 1: Bayeux

The most practical option, in our opinion, is to base ourselves in the town of Bayeux. We recommend..:

  • Hotel Domaine de Bayeux in an 18th century mansion – see prices, photos and availability
  • see all top rated accommodations in Bayeux

Domaine de Bayeux Hotel

Option 2: in the countryside

In the countryside around the D-Day beaches, you will find beautiful buildings with a lot of charm: farms, manors…

  • Hotel Domaine d’Utah Beach – prices, pictures and availability
  • Hotel Ferme de la Rançonnière – prices, pictures and availability

Hôtel ferme de la Rançonnière

Option 3: next to one of the beaches

If you’re looking for a seaside holiday or are fascinated by one of the beaches, you can choose a more specific hotel:

  • Hotel Villas d’Arromanches in Gold Beach Beach – prices, pictures and availability
  • Hotel La Sapinière in Omaha Beach Beach – prices, pictures and availability

Hotel Villas d'Arromanches

See all our advice on where to stay to visit the beaches

1. Utah Beach

The landing at utah beach – facts and figures.

Utah was the westernmost beach of the landing. It covered the section between Pouppeville and La Madeleine with the sub-areas Tare Green, Uncle Red and Victor. The section is 3 miles long (about 5km). 23,000 American troops landed here. Casualties were the lowest with 187 men killed or wounded.

landing beach at Utah Beach with the flags

Visit to the beach

The beach is easy to visit with a small dune, viewpoints and a large stretch of sand at low tide.

sandy beach at Utah Beach

Barges and mannequins are installed not far from the museum, which allows to visualize a little better what the landing was like. But it’s hard to imagine this peaceful view with the sounds of gunfire, explosions and all the warships in the sea.

Scenes of war on Utah Beach Beach

A little further down the beach, there are also some bunkers.

Bunker at Utah Beach

Museums around Sainte-Mère-l’Église

The main museum is the Utah Beach Landing Museum right on the beach. It tells in 10 sequences the events of D-Day. It is a chronological journey from preparation to victory. Open all year round

 Utah Beach Museum

But the region is full of other museums and sites:

  • The Airbone Museum with a superb scenography to understand the experience of the parachutists on the day of the landing Closed in December and January except during school vacations
  • The D-Day Experience : an immersive museum with flight simulator Open all year round
  • The Azeville Battery with an impressive underground complex Open from April to November 11
  • The Normandy Victory Museum , about the Battle of the Hedges Open from April to October and partially in winter (weekends and vacations)

See more activities at Utah Beach .

Open air museum at Utah Beach

Practical information to visit

Utah Beach is the most remote and scattered of the beaches. The museums are along the beach, in Sainte-Mère-l’église and in Carentan. You should plan at least one day but 2 days will allow you to cover more places. We stayed at the Domaine Utah Beach – Le Grand Hard hotel: a beautiful 17th century farmhouse turned charming hotel, with a restaurant known for its quality meat. A great time surrounded by nature! See photos, prices and availability Otherwise, there are hotels all around Sainte-Mère-l’église – see the best rated hotels aroundUtah Beach


All the information you need for your trip:

  • 8 maps that make planning easier
  • 160+ pre-selected locations
  • Practical advice
  • 300+ photos to help you choose

Box Ebook Corsica FR

2. Omaha Beach

The landing at omaha beach – facts and figures.

Omaha, the largest, is probably the best known of the D-Day beaches. It covered the section between Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes and Vierville-sur-Mer, with the sub-areas Charlie, Dog, Easy and Fox. The section is 6 miles long (about 10 km). 34,000 American troops landed here. Losses were highest, with 2,400 killed.

sandy beach at Omaha Beach Beach

Omaha Beach is the most difficult to visualize. The beach has a promenade right on the edge and is very touristy with bathers. It is still one of the most photographed with the sculpture “The Braves”. It is composed of 3 elements: “Wings of Hope”, “Stand Up for Freedom” and “Wings of Brotherhood”. Created by Anilore Banon, it was installed in 2004, for the 60th commemoration.

Sculpture at Omaha Beach Beach

The only signs of the war are the memorials and some bunker ruins.

Memorial at Omaha Beach

Museums near Colleville-sur-Mer

  • American Cemetery: 9387 perfectly aligned tombstones, garden, chapel, memorial, and a small museum giving the content of Operation Overlord. Open all year round
  • Overlord Museum: near the American cemetery, one of the richest in terms of artifacts of the landing and the war. With a museography adapted to children. Closed in January and early February.
  • The Pointe du Hoc: a strategic place of the German fortifications. The walk around the point takes you to see different bunkers above the cliffs. Open all year round
  • Big Red One Assault Museum : museum dedicated to the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army nicknamed “The Big Red One Open from March to November
  • Maisy Battery : Battery rediscovered in 2006 with many underground passages. Open from April to September
  • D-Day Omaha Museum – open from April to September
  • Liberation House – open from May to September
  • Omaha Beach Memorial Museum – open from June to September

Find out more about activities around Omaha Beach .

Overlord Museum at Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach is less remote but still requires a bit of a drive from Caen. The beach and the museums are grouped together, but to visit the Pointe de Hoc and the Maisy battery, you have to drive a little. You should plan at least one day but 2 days will allow you to cover more places. We stayed in Bayeux (25 min drive) at the Domaine de Bayeux: a charming hotel in the center of Bayeux surrounded by a French-style park. See photos, prices and availability Otherwise, there are hotels all around Colleville-sur-Mer – see the top rated hotels aroundOmaha Beach

American Cemetery at Omaha Beach


  • The best landing sites to visit
  • Visit the 5 D-Day landing beaches
  • Where to stay – best hotels near the beach
  • The best D-Day museums in Normandy
  • German batteries to visit
  • Car rental tips: Caen – Roissy-CDG – Orly – Beauvais
  • Visit Omaha Beach
  • Visit Utah Beach
  • Visit Gold Beach
  • Visit Sword Beach
  • Visit Juno Beach (coming soon)

land yachting normandy

The Arromanches part of Gold Beach is one of the most visually interesting of the D-Day landing beaches. At low tide, pieces of the artificial harbor (Mulberries) appear clearly and you can approach them.

Remains of Mulberry Harbor in Gold Beach

The beach of Arromanches is surrounded by cliffs. This allows to have beautiful views from the top of them.

cliffs at Gold Beach

And at the entrance to the beach, near the museum, you can appreciate several pieces of equipment.

 Gold Beach Beach

Museums in Arromanches

  • The D-Day Museum : presentation of the history of the British artificial harbor with the challenge of its construction and its key role in the victory. Closed in January
  • The circular cinema Arromanches 360 : with 9 circular screens, the film “100 days of Normandy” plunges you during 19 minutes in the heart of the terrible battle. Closed in January
  • The battery of Longues-Sur-Mer : a superb site on the cliffs with access to a fire command post, 4 reinforced concrete casemates and artillery pieces. Accessible all year round
  • America Gold Beach Museum : dedicated to the first USA-France airmail link and the British landing in the “King” sector. Open from March to October
  • Museum of underwater wrecks – open from June to September

Find out more about activities around Gold Beach .

Landing museum in Arromanches

The beach of Arromanches is very central. It is a good base to visit the landing beaches. The beach and the museums are grouped together. And the battery is only 15 minutes away. It is necessary to plan at least one day and to organize to visit the beach at low tide. We stayed at the hotel Les Villas d’Arromanches: a charming hotel in a 19th century villa on the heights of the city. A haven of peace with beautiful views of the sea. See photos, prices and availability Otherwise, there are hotels all around Arromanches – see the top rated hotels around Gold Beach

 Gold Beach Memorial

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land yachting normandy

4. Juno Beach

The landing at juno beach beach – facts and figures.

Juno Beach was the landing site for the Canadian Army. It covered the section between La Rivière and Saint Aubin-sur-Mer, with the Love, Mike and Nan sub-sectors. The section is 6 miles long (about 10 km). 21,400 Canadian and British troops landed here. Casualties amounted to 1,200 wounded or killed (including 359 Canadian dead).

landing beach Juno Beach Beach

To reach the beach, you have to climb a small dune of white sand. The beach extends as far as the eye can see, when it is low tide.

sandy beach at Utah Beach

The Cross of Lorraine is clearly visible. It was installed here to commemorate the place where De Gaulle first landed, an important turning point in the Battle of Normandy.

Cross of Lorraine at Utah Beach

On the beach, not far from the museum, you can also see bunkers, tanks and representations of soldiers.

Bunker at Utah Beach

Museums in Courseulles-sur-Mer

  • The Juno Beach Centre which focuses on the role played by Canadians alongside the Allied forces. You will discover a film and 5 permanent exhibition rooms. Closed in January Read more
  • Beny-sur-mer Canadia War Cemetery : not far away you can visit the Canadian cemetery where over 2000 men are buried. Accessible all year round

 Utah Beach Museum

Juno Beach Beach is surrounded by a very nice resort. It is a good base for a stay in Normandy. The museum is on the beach. And the cemetery is only 10 minutes away. You should plan for a half to a full day. We stayed at the hotel Ferme de la Rançonnière: stones and beams, everything that makes the charm of a Norman farm. See photos, prices and availability Otherwise, there are hotels in Courseulles – see the top rated hotels around Juno Beach

5. Sword Beach

The landing at sword beach beach – facts and figures.

The Sword Beach Beach landing was one of the most strategic because it was one of the main routes to northern France. It covered the section between Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer and Ouistreham, with the Oboe, Peter, Queen and Roger sub-sectors. The section is 5 miles long (about 8 km). 29,000 British troops landed here. Casualties amounted to 630 killed and wounded.

Museum at Sword Beach

On the beach of Ouistreham, few traces of the war. It is a very large sandy beach with beach huts. On the other hand, the city is rich in museums.

 Sword Beach Beach Ouistreham

Museums in Ouistreham

  • Atlantic Wall Museum – The Great Bunker : Explore the former German headquarters in this massive bunker. The interior rooms have been reconstructed on all 5 levels. Closed in January and early February
  • Pegasus Memorial : museum that presents the different missions of the 6th British Airborne Division, including the capture of the bridge of Bénouville called Pegasus Bridge. Closed from December 16 to January 31
  • Museum No. 4 Commando : the history of French commando who joined the British troops and participate in their missions Open from April to early November
  • Merville Battery: a German battery transformed into a museum with an excellent museography around bunkers, tanks, planes… Open from mid-March to mid-November
  • Radar 1944 Museum (in Douvres-la-Délivrande): installed in the former German detection station, the museum presents the life of German soldiers during the occupation of Normandy as well as the history of radar. Open from April to mid-November
  • And several cemeteries : La Délivrande, Hermanville, Ranville

Find out more about activities around Sword Beach .

Museum of the Atlantic in Ouistreham

Sword Beach Beach is in Ousitreham, a seaside resort with a huge beach. The museums are close to the beach. The Merville battery is 20 minutes away. Douvres-la-Délivrande is 20 minutes away. You should plan at least one day but 2 days will allow you to cover more places. There are many hotels and rentals in Ouistreham – see the top rated hotels around Sword Beach

Normandy beaches – D-Day in numbers

Just over 156,000 men landed on the beaches of Normandy.

The allied troops arrived

  • Paratroopers: over 23,000
  • By sea: over 133,000

The soldiers disembarked by nationalities

  • Americans: approximately 73,000
  • British: approximately 62,000
  • Canadian: approximately 21,000
  • and also soldiers from Belgium, Norway, Poland, Luxembourg, Greece, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand and Australia.
  • And more than 170 French commandos

Casualty estimates – how many died on the beaches of Normandy

  • Number of allied losses on June 6 at midnight (killed, wounded, prisoners…): more than 10 000
  • Number of German losses on June 6 at midnight (killed, wounded, prisoners…): estimated between 4000 and 10000…

Douglas C47 Dakota

The equipment

  • Support aircraft: over 11,000
  • Combat ships: more than 1200
  • Landing ships; over 4,000
  • Merchant ships: over 800
  • The ships were 80% British and 16% American

Frequently asked questions about beaches

Landing beach in 1 day.

If you only have one day to visit the D-Day landing beaches, it is best to choose one of the 5 beaches described in this article according to your interests:

  • Omaha is the most emblematic of the beaches with the sculpture and the American cemetery
  • Utah or Omaha for the Americans
  • Juno for Canadians
  • Gold Beach for the British
  • Gold Beach for those interested in temporary port engineering
  • Sword Beach and Utah Beach for the best museums (in our opinion)

What was the bloodiest beach on D-Day?

The losses on Omaha Beach were the worst on D-Day. American troops lost more than 2400 soldiers who were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.

Are the beaches of Normandy still stained with blood?

No. Without the memorials, bunkers and cemeteries, it is impossible to imagine what happened on these beaches in 1944. These are now beautiful sandy beaches where people swim in the summer.

Swimming at Omaha Beach

Can we take sand from the beaches of Normandy?

No. As in many other countries, it is illegal to take sand or pebbles from French beaches.

Visit the D-Day landing beaches in winter

You can visit the D-Day landing beaches in winter. The winter atmosphere is more conducive to introspection on their history than the summer crowds… Please note, however, that almost all museums close at least in January and early February. Closing times depend on the museum. See our article on museums . However, the beaches and many of the bunkers remain freely accessible.

Films on the D-Day beaches in Normandy

The Longest Day (1962) A very realistic account of the landing at Omaha Beach. Take a look at it before your visit, to better contextualize everything you are about to see.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) War movie directed by Steven Spielberg with Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. It is inspired by the real-life story of the Niland brothers, American soldiers killed during World War II. In this fiction, the hero goes in search of the last survivor to bring him back to his mother.

Overlord (1975) Black and white film by Stuart Cooper. Story of a young recruit and his training before D-Day.


Inspiration destinations

  • Deciding where to go in Normandy – the best destinations
  • Our weekend ideas: best-of , romantic , unusual , seaside , luxury , family
  • 16 seaside hotels in Normandy
  • The most beautiful charming hotels in Normandy

land yachting normandy

  • Best things to do in Normandy
  • Best cities in Normandy
  • Most beautiful beaches of Normandy
  • Most beautiful villages of Normandy
  • Best castles of Normandy
  • Best abbeys of Normandy
  • Read our complete guide to visit the Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Discover the D-Day sites

land yachting normandy

  • Where to stay in Normandy – best places and hotels
  • See our tips for renting a car at CDG airport , Orly airport , Beauvais airport , Caen , Rouen , Bayeux …

land yachting normandy


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Claire and Manu

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  • 'Band of Brothers' Actors Are Training to Parachute into Normandy for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

land yachting normandy

Few younger people truly got to know World War II like the cast of "Band of Brothers." Not only was the show based on a meticulously researched history of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, but many of the actors involved in the beloved 2001 miniseries spent time and effort getting to know the World War II veteran counterparts they portrayed on screen. The actors even went through a 10-day boot camp and parachute training.

With the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy approaching in June, some of the actors decided they would commemorate the D-Day landings by training at Camp Toccoa and then jumping into the Cotentin Peninsula.

"We never jumped for real during the series, but we did a lot of training," Alex Sabga-Brady, who played Cpl. Frank Mellet, told the BBC . "We thought it would be a nice close of the circle."

Led by Capt. Dale Dye -- a decorated Marine Corps veteran who conducted the original boot camp; served as the show's military adviser; and also played the role of Col. Robert Sink -- more than a dozen "Band of Brothers" cast members will honor the men who landed on those bloody beaches eight decades ago while also raising money for veterans' charities in the process.

Related: Why 'Band of Brothers' Lasts: A Perspective from One of Its Writers

"The actual amount of Normandy veterans that are alive today is getting smaller and smaller by the week, and there are no surviving members of Easy Company left," said Sabga-Brady.

Most of the 150,000 men who stormed the beaches or parachuted into Nazi-occupied Normandy on June 6, 1944, are no longer with us, and the few thousand who remain are well into their 90s. With every passing year, it becomes more important (and more difficult) to honor those who risked their lives there and are still alive. Once they're gone, the "Band of Brothers" cast might be one of the closest remaining links to their memory.

Sabga-Brady is working on a documentary about the actors' training at Camp Toccoa in Georgia in preparation for their 80th anniversary jump, tentatively titled " The Jump: Currahee to Normandy ." The cast members will be in Georgia between March 23 and March 30, 2024, to earn their parachutist wings through the All Airborne Battalion , a nonprofit that aims to remember the legacy of America's veterans by static line and free-fall airborne operations at training events and air shows, among other places.

"The spirit of the cast who made the series so great lives on," Dye says in a video on the documentary's website. "I can't think of a more unique way to honor the men of Easy Company, the original 'Band of Brothers.'"

After a "three miles up, three miles down" charity run at Currahee, the newly minted parachutists will be off to France to take part in the 80th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings.

Joining Dye and Sabga-Brady are Doug Spain ("Tony Garcia"), Nolan Hemmings ("Chuck Grant"), Mark Lawrence ("William Dukeman"), Doug Allen ("Alton Moore"), Dexter Fletcher ("Johnny Martin"), Pete McCabe ("Donald Hoobler"), Rene Moreno ("Joseph Ramirez"), George Calil ("James Alley"), Bart Ruspoli ("Ed Tipper"), Rick Warden ("Harry Welsh") and Christian Black ("Walter Hendrix"). Actor Scott Gibson, who played Andy "Ack Ack" Haldane in HBO's "The Pacific," will also join them.

"If we can in some way, shape or form keep these stories going and keep these memories alive then that is exactly what we tried to do, and it does mean a lot to us as a cast," said Sabga-Brady.

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Yacht Charter in Normandy

Situated on the north-western coast of France, Normandy is a magnificent region rich in heritage and tourist activity. Its natural landscapes and numerous tourist attractions make Normandy a popular destination for globetrotters from all over the world. A yacht charter in Normandy is the perfect way to explore this region that opens onto the English Channel. With the famous ports of Le Havre and Cherbourg among many others, set off on an exceptional cruise on the French coast.

29 Boats to rent in Normandy

Gib sea 84 (1984).

Granville - Chausey (France) 2 Cabins • 4 Berths • 29 ft

Sun Fast 37 (2005)

Granville - Chausey (France) 3 Cabins • 6 Berths • 37 ft

From 1 500 €

Ovni 345 DI (2000)

Granville - Chausey (France) 3 Cabins • 6 Berths • 36 ft

From 1 620 €

Oceanis 411 (2006)

Granville - Chausey (France) 4 Cabins • 8 Berths • 42 ft

From 1 740 €

Sun Odyssey 43 (2006)

Granville - Chausey (France) 4 Cabins • 8 Berths • 43 ft

From 1 920 €

Granville - Chausey (France) 3 Cabins • 8 Berths • 37 ft

Dufour 50 (1997)

Barneville Carteret (France) 5 Cabins • 8 Berths • 49 ft

From 3 500 €

First 31.7 (2001)

Granville - Chausey (France) 2 Cabins • 4 Berths • 32 ft

From 1 180 €

Types of boats available for charter in Normandy

Sailboat charter normandy, rib charter normandy.

Prices on request

Don't miss it in Normandy

Yacht charter lower normandy, top 5 reasons to rent a yacht in normandy, 1. mont-saint-michel.

Visited by over three million people each year, Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was in this exceptional setting that monks decided to build an abbey at the end of the 10th century. Destroyed by the wars and rebuilt by the monks, the site was subject to the wrath of history and the evolution of religious architecture over the following centuries – yet never ceased to gain in beauty. Definitively completed at the end of the 19th century, this architectural masterpiece is well worth the 450 steps leading to its summit. And once at the top, you can enjoy the incredible panoramic views of the immense bay. Cast off from Granville and sail a few kilometers south to visit this world-class monument.

2. D-Day Landing Beaches

Whilst they do not form the most attractive coastline of Normandy, the beaches chosen for the Allied Forces landings in 1944 are among the most captivating sites in the Normandy region. Plunging visitors back into one of the most dramatic episodes in 20th century history, these sites of remembrance are sure to move all visitors. From the Côte de Nacre to the edge of Cotentin, every beach, site, memorial and cemetery tells a different human story.

3. Cliffs of Étretat

Proclaimed by many as the most beautiful natural coastal sites of Upper Normandy, the cliffs of Étretat have been immortalized by many famous painters down through the years. A series of chalk cliffs, including three natural arches and a rock formation called the Needle comprise the Étretat Chalk Complex. Aboard your chartered yacht in Normandy, what better way to see this stunning towering landscape! It’s the ideal place to capture some stunning Instagram-worthy pictures.

4. Spoilt for choice with seafood galore!

Bordering the English Channel means that this region has a plentiful supply of delicious and fresh seafood. Have your pick of clams, scallops, oysters or mussels aboard your boat charter in Normandy … your cook will only be delighted to prepare some local culinary dishes such as Marmite Dieppoise (a fish stew) or Coquille Saint Jacques (a scallop, shrimp and mussel-based dish).

5. Architecture that you won’t find anywhere else in France

Normandy’s ‘chaumières’ or thatched country cottages are rarely seen in other parts of metropolitan France. This medieval and Gothic-influenced architecture has a distinctive aesthetic and feel. You’ll notice a distinct contrast between the new and the old as much of these buildings were rebuilt following the Second World War. These dainty homes are charming, unique and full of character.

Getting There

From abroad, it’s best to fly into Paris (Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports) and then continue your onward journey to Normandy by train (daily departures from Paris). Caen-Carpiquet airport, located in the Normandy region, operates some regional flights to other European cities including London, UK. Several major airline companies operate direct flights from Paris to the USA and Canada. You can choose from a variety of marinas to begin your yacht charter in Normandy including Le Havre, Deauville, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, Cherbourg-Octeville, Granville and more.


Everything Mopar Fans Should Know About The Dodge Mirada

White 1980 Dodge Mirada

You're not alone if you've never heard of the Dodge Mirada. But you'll want to stick around because this long-forgotten land yacht from the 1980s is a rather peculiar oddity that's actually worth knowing about.

The Mirada lasted only three years (from 1980 to 1983) and was a short-lived piece of Dodge's high-end luxury. The world had just shut the door on the 1970s, a decade that saw everything from the Clean Air Act to never-ending lines at the gas pumps thanks to the onslaught of oil embargos by Arab producers. At the start of the 1980s, consumers were in the midst of the in-between, a period when big ole cars of the past were still part and parcel of the American landscape but, due to the events of the previous decade, were starting to be phased out. Yet, a vehicle's economic importance was still years away and insignificant next to the comfort it could provide.

For example, in 1979 alone, automakers sold over 1.5 million personal luxury coupes, including the Ford Thunderbird, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevy Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Buick Regal, and Mercury Cougar. In fact, Dodge specifically targeted these very cars in its ad for the Mirada in 1980. Interestingly, there was nothing really all that new about the Mirada (a Spanish word for "look" or "view"). It was fundamentally a Chrysler Cordoba (like the failed '70s Dodge Magnum ) whittled down to fit on the smaller Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré platform from 1976, making it 800 pounds lighter than the Mangum.

[Featured image by Mr.choppers via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 3.0 ]

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

The Mirada cribbed the similar elongated front hood, short back deck, and linear features made famous by the 1975 Cadillac Seville. It did have a unique front end designed to give it a sportier look. However, even that was only partially original, as one reliable source claims it was inspired   by the Cord 810 ( one of the most beautiful pre-war cars ever built ) and 812.

There was a choice of the 3.7-liter 225 cubic-inch Slant Six (kicking out only 90 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque). In 49 of the 50 United States, a 318 cubic-inch V8 strapped with a two-barrel carburetor produced 155 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, folks in California could grab a 318 V8 with a four-barrel carburetor packing 185 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.

Lastly, a 360 CID V8 was available in the Mirada CMX (available everywhere but California), capable of making the same power numbers as the 318 V8 sold in California. However, this engine was discontinued after the inaugural 1980 model.  A three-speed TorqueFlite automatic was the only transmission option, but the shifter could be mounted on the column or in a middle console.

Lee Iacocca, appointed president of Chrysler Corporation in 1978 and then chairman of the board in '79, loved vinyl landau roofs because they made a car look classy. Along with a half-top landau, there were options for a painted metal roof (with fixed opera windows), a Cabriolet roof, and, to further play up the "sporty" aspect, a power sunroof or glass T-top.

[Featured image by Greg Gjerdingen via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

Breaker, breaker, good buddy

In fact, Chrysler really went above and beyond when emphasizing the Mirada's sportiness (even though it wasn't) with the "Sport Handling Package." This option included a bevy of muscle car features like heavy-duty shocks, stiffer rear leaf springs, and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars. It used the buzzword "Firm-Feel" to describe the suspension and steering, while wide 10-spoke alloy wheels (slapped with 215/70R15 whitewall tires) rode the ground. A three or four-spoke steering wheel and a gaggle of gauges (speedometer, tachometer, temperature, fuel level, alternator, etc.) set amidst a brushed aluminum instrument panel rounded out the look. 

Among the audio options was a premium speaker package powered by a 30-watt rear amplifier connected to either a state-of-the-art cassette or – believe it or not – an 8-track tape player. Keep in mind that in 1977  "Smokey and the Bandit" was released, making Pontiac's Trans-Am famous . It also turned CB radios into the must-have gadget, so buyers could get one installed ... in the dash .

The front seats were available in either a 60/40 front bench or bucket seat configuration. Buckets bought you a middle console-mounted shifter (and the brushed aluminum dash), while the bench came with the standard column shifter and a more refined simulated woodgrain dash. Material options included a cloth/vinyl combination and all vinyl or leather surfaces with vinyl trim.

The NASCAR life

So, how can a (failed) mid-size personal-luxury coupe marketed with peculiar muscle car stylings end up on the NASCAR circuit? We're glad you asked.

Wanting nothing more than to succeed on the race track, Lee Iacocca went to great lengths to get none other than "The King" himself, Richard Petty, to use a Mirada in the NASCAR circuit. Petty and his team did, in fact, test one, but thanks to the front end ("inspired" by the Cords, if you remember), it had such poor aerodynamics that it made the car some 8 miles per hour slower than the Ford and GM offerings on the track.

Other teams also tested it, and all but one chose other manufacturer models. Arrington Racing, however, used it rather successfully (usually on the shorter tracks) from 1981 through 1984 and was able to achieve 15 top-ten finishes during that time. Both Dave Marcis and Dick May intermittently drove a Mirada during the '81 season, but more often than not, the car either broke down or, if they were lucky, finished several laps down.

The production Mirada was about as successful as the NASCAR version. Chrysler only sold 52,947 units during its short production run, with more than half (27,165) in its launch year of 1980 alone. Sales literally plummeted year over year until, in '83, it sold just 5,597 units, and Chrysler pulled the plug on the Mirada. 

[Featured image by us44mt via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]


Sex lawsuit against Sean 'Diddy' Combs adds Cuba Gooding Jr. as defendant

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LOS ANGELES -- Allegations against music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs are expanding to include another well-known entertainment figure.

A music producer who sued Combs for sexual assault last month is adding Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. to that complaint.

Rodney Jones claims the actor sexually harassed and assaulted him while aboard Combs' yacht last year.

Gooding has not publicly commented on the allegations.

This comes days after federal agents raided Combs' homes in Los Angeles and Miami.

He has not been charged with any crime but the investigation surrounding the sexual misconduct allegations is growing.

Diddy has denied all accusations.

Meantime new video shows the arrest of Brendan Paul - Combs' alleged drug mule. The 25-year-old was arrested Monday in Miami.

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First look inside the new four seasons yacht.

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The new Four Seasons yacht will set sail in 2026.

Four Seasons has long set the gold standard for luxury accommodations on land and is renowned for its exquisite hotels that offer unparalleled comfort and service. Now, this legacy of luxury is extending its reach to the seas. In a groundbreaking move, Four Seasons Yachts , in collaboration with Marc-Henry Cruise Holdings Ltd and the esteemed Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, is introducing an ambitious venture into luxury sea travel. Scheduled to set sail in 2026, this initiative promises an experience that transcends traditional cruising, offering voyages across the mesmerizing waters of the Caribbean and the historic coasts of the Mediterranean.

Alejandro Reynal, President and CEO of Four Seasons, expressed enthusiasm about bringing the brand's hallmark of guest-centered luxury to the high seas. According to Reynal, this expansion into yachting is a natural extension of Four Seasons' commitment to providing personalized, elegant, and comfortable experiences. The aim is clear: to redefine luxury hospitality, but this time, against the backdrop of the world's most stunning seascapes.

The suites are breathtaking.

The inaugural season of Four Seasons Yachts is poised to offer something truly special. With ten unique voyages planned, travelers will have the opportunity to explore over 130 distinct destinations across more than 30 countries and territories. Each itinerary has been meticulously crafted, allowing guests the flexibility to design their own sea adventure. From the lively atmospheres of Caribbean islands like Saint Barthélemy and Martinique to the cultural richness of Mediterranean gems, including the Greek Isles and Croatia, these voyages promise a blend of well-loved destinations and hidden treasures.

The spacious cabins have incredible views.

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Accommodations aboard the yacht are set to be a marvel in themselves. Ninety-five suites, conceived by the creative minds of Fredrik Johannson at Tillberg Design of Sweden and Creative Director Prosper Assouline, are designed to be sanctuaries of tranquility at sea. Each suite, envisioned with elegant interiors, expansive views, and a residential feel, aims to provide guests with a sense of being at home away from home. Among these, the Funnel and Loft Suites stand out for their sheer luxury and space. They offer unique features such as splash pools, outdoor showers, and breathtaking panoramic views, setting a new benchmark for luxury accommodations on water.

The pool deck features a bar and lounge chairs.

Beyond the exquisite suites, the yacht will feature various amenities designed to cater to every guest's needs. With eleven dining options, a comprehensive spa and wellness center, a state-of-the-art marina, and an innovative pool area capable of hosting events, the yacht ensures a variety of experiences that enrich the journey.

“We’re building a stunning seafaring venture that will be enjoyed as a yacht experience rather than a cruise experience," says Thatcher Brown, chief commercial officer and head of joint operations at luxury shipping specialist Marc-Henry Cruise Holdings, the joint owner/operator of the Four Seasons Yachts brand. "The intrinsic value of Four Seasons brand leadership in luxury hospitality combined with the passionate pioneering spirit and expertise of the project team is manifested in the creation of truly special Four Seasons Yachts experiences."

Jordi Lippe-McGraw

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Normandy Tourism, France

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Accessible to all, solo, in a group or with the family, beginners and experienced sailors can (re) discover the joys of a sport that is both accessible and full of adrenaline! The sand yacht is a kind of beach go-kart that you will soon enjoy driving! Master the machine on courses with winding trajectories like a go-kart course and learn to launch it in a straight line. A tank school can go up to 70 km/h! We are here to help you discover the activity in the best possible conditions, and in safety. ACCESSIBLE TO ALL: - From 10 years old and/or about 1m40 - Seminars, groups, schools (from CM1): contact us for a tailor-made offer.

Ratings and quality marks

  • Sand Yachting Centre
  • Ecole Française de Voile
  • Normandie Qualité Tourisme
  • Point Plage FFVoile

Payment methods

  • Carte bleue
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  • Postal or bank cheques
  • Eurocard - Mastercard
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  • Uncovered picnic area
  • Fully equipped meetings room
  • Toilet block
  • Changing rooms
  • Groups welcome

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Are you already in Normandy?

Plan what to see and do while you’re here by visiting normandy-secrets.com, which lets you in on all of the local secrets and hidden gems in the immediate vicinity!

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At long last, a cruise ship designed for people who hate cruises

Maybe we should call it a ‘floatel.’ the ritz-carlton’s posh yacht is part of the first generation of hotel brands making the leap from land to sea..

The exterior of the Ritz-Carlton Evrima with St. Lucia in the distance.

G USTAVIA, St. Barts — While admiring the sleek Ritz-Carlton Evrima sitting in Gustavia Harbor, I concluded that the vessel is a new category of cruising and should have a name that reflects as much

At its heart, the Evrima is more of a hotel or resort on water than a cruise ship, so maybe it should be called a floatel. How about a boatique hotel? Would you settle for a barge and breakfast? No matter what it’s called — the Ritz-Carlton refers to the ship as a yacht — spending a few days on the Evrima was an experience unlike any I’d previously had on a cruise ship.


Ritz-Carlton launched its entry into the world of cruising in 2022 after years of false starts and COVID-related delays. I read about its progress carefully because it seemed that while every other ship was getting bigger and more elaborate, Ritz-Carlton, owned by Marriott, was bucking the trend by making theirs smaller and more minimal. It’s also intent on calling its ships yachts. The definition of a yacht is fuzzy enough that the Ritz-Carlton can get away with it, but clearly, it’s about status. And if you’re paying $5,000 for a cruise (my Caribbean cruise was $5,300), telling your friends that you’re yachting seems appropriate.

During my Caribbean jaunt, there were a few times when I heard the crew slip and say “ship” before correcting themselves and saying “yacht.” I couldn’t help but chuckle. The staff of the Evrima did not know a travel writer was on board, and the Globe received no freebies or special treatment. I wanted to experience the Evrima like any other Jane Dough or Milburn Pennybags on the ship — I mean yacht.

No matter what it’s called, the Evrima is a wholly different species from other ships, beginning with the passenger count. It can hold 298 passengers (most small luxury ships carry between 700 to 2,000). My cruise was full, but the ship never felt crowded, and I often wondered if it was really sold out. I never had a problem finding a lounge chair at the pool or getting a table for dinner.

The 298-passenger Ritz-Carlton Evrima sits next to the 3,660-passenger Enchanted Princess ship at the port in St. Croix.

The most striking difference I found between Evrima and other ships was the onboard culture. There were no water slides, casinos, buffets, or Broadway shows. The Evrima is akin to a chic boutique hotel where you’d go to unwind without distractions. It’s designed for Ritz-Carlton loyalists, or folks who want to be in a posh hotel that happens to sail into different ports.

There’s a small infinity pool and hot tubs rather than a giant central swimming pool on the 624-foot yacht. There are even tucked-away areas on outside decks that you can seek out for a bit of privacy. Common areas, such as a main gathering called the Living Room, still felt intimate.

There are excursions off the ship, but when you’re on board, no cruise directors are dragging you to limbo contests or haranguing passengers over the PA about upcoming bingo games. It’s very much a place to escape rather than be pulled into the candy-colored machinations of a big cruise ship.

There’s a fair amount of chatter about the Evrima in online cruise forums, and the biggest complaints are from those who book expecting a full, traditional cruise experience. This will sound odd, but if you’re a regular cruiser who enjoys the flash and action of a ship, or you like your days jammed with nonstop activities planned by others, I’d say to steer clear of the Evrima. There are activities such as wine tastings, gourmet cooking challenges, and mixology classes, but no mini golf or pickleball.

The back deck of the Ritz-Carlton yacht Evrima.

What it lacks in conventional activities, it more than makes up for in an area called the Marina. When the yacht is anchored, the back deck on level three becomes a place to lay in the sun, jump into the water, snorkle, or kayak. It’s unlike any other cruise ship because you’re in relatively shallow water and you have full access to the ocean (depending on conditions). One day when the ship was in a lackluster port, I stayed onboard and hung out at the Marina. I went kayaking and snorkeling right off the back of the ship. It was the most yacht-like experience of the cruise.

I don’t mean to paint the environment on the Evrima as staid or anti-social. I was pulled into multiple birthday celebrations by complete strangers who became close friends by the end of the trip. Several of these celebrations lasted late into the night in the Observation Lounge, which was the venue on the 10th deck that stayed open past midnight. I suppose it didn’t hurt that the staff poured Moët & Chandon champagne like it was water. There’s no upcharge for alcohol (unless you have a taste for $2,500 spirits). There’s also no extra charges for internet or gratuities.

The Grand Suite on the Ritz-Carlton yacht Evrima.

The Evrima is made up entirely of suites, all of them with balconies, that range in size from 300 square feet to 1,091 square feet. Most of the suites, aside from the entry-level Terrace suite, have bathtubs. These are cruise ship rooms that feel like hotel rooms, down to the king beds. Many of those who work in service on the ship come from the hotel world rather than other cruise ships, and their demeanor was just as friendly and professional.

Ritz-Carlton Evrima

  • Small, easy-to-navigate ship
  • Gourmet food
  • Laidback, relaxing atmosphere
  • Large suites with beautiful interiors
  • Limited onboard activities
  • Limited laundry facilities for guests
  • Not ideal for families with small children

But people come on ships for the cuisine, and, as you may expect, the food on the Evrima is sophisticated. There are five restaurants (six if you count the bakery at the espresso bar), plus 24-hour room service. As a reporter, it was my duty to try them all. Even at the casual, all-day restaurant, the Pool House, you could get ceviche or a salmon poke bowl. They didn’t just serve burgers, there was a build-your-own-burger.

The Mediterranean-influenced restaurant Mistral offered options such as lobster linguine, several cuts of steak, and grilled octopus. Most passengers I chatted with spent the majority of their dining time at Mistral or Talaat Nam, the sushi restaurant. (I fell deeply in love with the mango sticky rice at Talaat Nam.) The all-purpose restaurant, called the Evrima Room, served breakfast and dinner. I mostly had breakfast here, and primarily for the orange juice, which was freshly squeezed.

The only restaurant on board with an extra charge is called S.E.A. It features a tasting menu and wine pairing created by three-Michelin-star chef Sven Elverfeld. For an additional $289, I enjoyed eight courses (maybe it was nine, it got blurry with the wine). Most were petite portions packed with flavor, such as raw and marinated yellowfin tuna and Japanese wagyu. I felt as if I was eating art for a night.

An overhead shot of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Evrima.

On the last night of my Caribbean cruise, I decided to ask other passengers their take on the ship. Did they think they had gotten their money’s worth? I went to the Observation Lounge where all the evening’s revelry was taking place, but clearly I was too late for serious answers. Jane, one of the many birthday celebrants, had pulled everyone onto the dance floor. I tried asking: “Was it worth it?” The reply was a champagne-scented chorus of “You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only 17.”

I took that as a yes.

Christopher Muther can be reached at [email protected] . Follow him @Chris_Muther and Instagram @chris_muther.


  1. Land-Yachting in Normandy

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  2. Land Sailing on Gold Beach in Normandy Editorial Photo

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  3. Carteret Yachting in BARNEVILLE-CARTERET : Normandy Tourism, France

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  4. Cabourg Land Yachting Centre in CABOURG : Normandy Tourism, France

    land yachting normandy

  5. Land Sailing on Gold Beach in Normandy Editorial Stock Photo

    land yachting normandy

  6. Carteret Yachting in BARNEVILLE-CARTERET : Normandy Tourism, France

    land yachting normandy


  1. Sand yachting in Normandy

    Sand yachting on the long sandy beaches in Normandy makes for fun memories! For a fun photo option, check out our selection of spots: in the Manche, in the seaside resorts of Cabourg, Deauville, Trouville-sur-Mer, on the D-Day Landing Beaches. Types.

  2. Land yachting lessons in COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER : Normandy Tourism, France

    Located amidst a magnificent panorama of nature and sea spray, Eolia Normandy offers you land yachting lessons by the magnificent heritage site of Omaha Beach. And to reward you for your efforts, enjoy a bite to eat at the fireside in the base's panoramic club house. For further information, consult our website at www.eolia-normandie.com. We wish you a pleasant visit. Eolia Normandie is an ...

  3. History & Sports on D-Day Landing Beaches in Normandy

    Land yachting, also known as land sailing, blends the principles of sailing with on-land racing techniques, making the sport also resemble go-karting in the great outdoors. This sensational sport is a great family-friendly activity, starting from 7 years old. Land yachting is practiced all year round in Normandy, depending on the tide schedule.

  4. 9 Places to Go Sand Yachting in Normandy

    Arromanches-les-Bains is also one of the unmissable beaches for sand yachting in Normandy. Nicknamed Gold Beach, it still bears the traces of the large artificial port which welcomed the Allied troops during the liberation of 1944. Providers offer sessions of two to three hours throughout the year. 2.

  5. Land sailing session on Omaha Beach, Normandy

    Land sailing | Adult. Read more. US$56 /person. Book now Gift. Course of events. - Meeting point at EOLIA Normandy Omaha Beach - Lieu dit, 14710 Colleville-sur-Mer. - Briefing on the activity, equipment and safety rules. - Set up of the equipment and discovery of the sand yachts. - Sailing session on evolving courses.

  6. Land-Yachting in Normandy

    Watch me as I take the drone up to new heights in Normandy once again! If you liked this video, please leave a like and subscribe!SUBSCRIBE TODAY! http://bi...

  7. Land yachting lessons

    Located amidst a magnificent panorama of nature and sea spray, Eolia Normandy offers you land yachting lessons by the magnificent heritage site of Omaha Beach. And to reward you for your efforts, enjoy a bite to eat at the fireside in the base's panoramic club house. For further information, consult our website at www.eolia-normandie.com.

  8. The unloved, unlovely, yet indispensable LST

    Seventy-five years after the allied landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, it is easy to regard the successful invasion of German-occupied France as preordained, its outcome a matter of the ...

  9. Visiting the beaches of Normandy: D-Day landings and WW2 sites

    There were people playing on the beach, lots of land sailing going on and just a generally nice atmosphere. The town of Ouistreham is a pleasant town to spend a night as well with lots to see if you're interested in the landings. ... 2 thoughts on "Visiting the beaches of Normandy: D-Day landings and WW2 sites - your ultimate guide" ...

  10. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Land Sailing

    Iconic Land Sailing locations. A worldwide sport, requiring only a flat stretch of land, whether it be beach, desert or an unused airstrip, and at least 10km wind speeds, this sport is practiced in countries including, but not limited to: Belgium, Canary Islands, UK, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Cyprus, Austria, Lithuania and Switzerland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina ...

  11. Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day

    Get the facts on five D-Day beaches—code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword—that the Allies invaded. It's widely agreed among historians that D-Day, which began June 6, 1944, marked a ...

  12. 2 Days in Normandy: The D-Day Landing Beaches & Mont St. Michel

    A 1 day tour from Paris of the Normandy D-Day landing beaches, which includes transport, museum entry and guide. A 2-day tour of Normandy, Saint Malo and Mont St Michel from Paris, which includes transport, overnight 4* accommodation, some meals, a guide, and entrance fees. This would be our recommended option from Paris if you have the time as ...

  13. → French riviera normandy beaches yachting ...

    Land of France provides multiple packages that will take you coast to coast ; from the savage beauty of the historic Normandy coast, to quaint fishing villages like ...

  14. 11 Useful Things To Know Before Visiting Omaha Beach, Normandy

    Sharon Odegaard. 11 Things To Know Before Visiting Omaha Beach, Normandy 1. Pay Your Respects At The Normandy American Cemetery. The focus of a visit to Omaha Beach today is the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. On a windswept bluff above Omaha Beach, this peaceful cemetery is the final resting place of almost 10,000 American soldiers who gave their lives in the battle for ...

  15. Cabourg Land Yachting School in CABOURG : Normandy Tourism, France

    Avenue Durand Morimbau. 14390 CABOURG. Find on the map. Email. Call. Visit website. Add to bookmark. FFCV (French Sand and Land Yachting Federation) certified club. Discover the pleasure of sand sailing all year long on the magnificent beach in Cabourg, three times faster than the wind!

  16. Why Normandy Still Matters: Seventy-Five Years On, Operation Overlord

    11 Figures and information compiled from Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light, 15, 36-37; Murray and Millett, A War to be Won, 420; Craig L. Symonds, Neptune: Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 225-226, 305; and Ken Ford and Steven J. Zaloga, Overlord: The D-Day Landings (New York: Osprey ...

  17. Visiting the 5 D-Day landing beaches (in Normandy)

    Visit the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy : Map + tips The 5 landing beaches - map and introduction. Operation Overlord, a.k.a. the Normandy invasion, began on June 6, 1944. 5 main areas were strategically chosen by the Allies on the Normandy coast. They cover a section of more than 80km (50 miles). Code names have been given:

  18. Testing out the land yacht for Normandy American heroes ...

    Testing out the land yacht for Normandy American heroes guests! #Omaha #WWII #wwiihistory #normandy #guidedtours #privatetour #historyfacts #DDay #DDay80. Rudy Passera · Original audio

  19. Land Yachting in Normandy!

    Hey guys! If you liked this video, please leave a like and subscribe!Want to see more? WATCH THIS!- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAY7MmTkH5cSUBSCRIBE TO M...

  20. THE TOP 10 Normandy Boat Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours (w/Prices)

    Normandy Cruises & Sailing: Check out Viator's reviews and photos of Normandy tours a Tripadvisor company. Top Normandy activities. Explore by category ... When your cruise ship sails into the port of La Havre, trace the history of the infamous D-Day landings on a full-day private shore excursion to significant battlefields and landing beaches ...

  21. 'Band of Brothers' Actors Are Training to Parachute into Normandy for

    With the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy approaching in June, some of the actors decided they would commemorate the D-Day landings by training at Camp Toccoa and then jumping ...

  22. Land yachting along the D-Day Landing beaches

    Normandy Meetings & Events ; Normandy Travel Trade ; Normandy's unmissable sites ; About Normandy . Go back; Our values ; Normandy in videos ; ... Land yachting along the D-Day Landing beaches - Gold Beach. Major events, ASNELLES . 01/03/2024 . About; Date; Prices; Location; Contact details;

  23. N°1 Yacht Charter Normandy with/without Skipper

    TOP 5 REASONS TO RENT A YACHT IN NORMANDY. 1. Mont-Saint-Michel. Visited by over three million people each year, Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was in this exceptional setting that monks decided to build an abbey at the end of the 10th century.

  24. Everything Mopar Fans Should Know About The Dodge Mirada

    But you'll want to stick around because this long-forgotten land yacht from the 1980s is a rather peculiar oddity that's actually worth knowing about. The Mirada lasted only three years (from 1980 ...

  25. Cuba Gooding Jr. added as defendant to sex assault, harassment suit

    Music producer Rodney Jones, who is suing Sean "Diddy" Combs, claims Cuba Gooding Jr. sexually harassed and assaulted him on Combs' yacht.

  26. First Look Inside The New Four Seasons Yacht

    The new Four Seasons yacht will set sail in 2026. Marc-Henry Cruise Holdings Ltd, Joint Owner/Operator Four Seasons Yachts. Four Seasons has long set the gold standard for luxury accommodations on ...

  27. Sand Yacht in LUC-SUR-MER : Normandy Tourism, France

    Sand Yacht. Luc Yacht Club. 14530 LUC-SUR-MER. Find on the map. Email. Visit website. Add to bookmark. Accessible to all, solo, in a group or with the family, beginners and experienced sailors can (re) discover the joys of a sport that is both accessible and full of adrenaline! The sand yacht is a kind of beach go-kart that you will soon enjoy ...

  28. The Ritz-Carlton's yacht is a ship for people who hate cruises

    The Ritz-Carlton's posh yacht is part of the first generation of hotel brands making the leap from land to sea. By Christopher Muther Globe Staff, Updated March 29, 2024, 6:00 a.m.