Please sign in to post.

Travel to Utah Beach

My family is visiting France from June 6-12. My grandfather landed on Utah Beach during the invasion, and we are wanting to take a day to visit. When I look online, it is super overwhelming. There are five of us and we plan to rent a car. What destination should we plan to punch into the GPS, and what are the "must sees"? Suggestions?

We plan to go near the end of our trip to avoid some of the congestion we could expect around DDay.

Posted by
100 posts

Hello. I assume you're coming from Paris? I would put in the Utah Beach Visitors Center in the GPS and head there first.

UTAH BEACH D-DAY MUSEUM
50480 SAINTE-MARIE-DU-MONT

Then, it really depends on what you want to see. From Utah Beach you could take the D514 east and go to Pont Du Hoc, ending at Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. It's very easy to drive, but there is a LOT of history there and you need to figure out what is a must see for you and your family. My DH and I spent 3 days there 2 years ago with a private guide and are going back in a few weeks to see what we didn't cover the first time. So you really need to figure out what you want to do.

Arromanches is where you can see the remains of the Mulberry Artificial Harbor (and a neat little town). Bayeux is bigger and very interesting with the Bayeux Tapestry. There is the WWII Museum in Caen, Pegasus Bridge and St. Mere Eglise and, well, just so MUCH. So yes, some research is in order to decide what is important to your family. Have a great trip.

Posted by
32200 posts

mel,

You could start with the address of the Utah Musée du Débarquement, which is on their website....

http://www.utah-beach.com/?lang=en

It will likely be very busy at that time of year with huge crowds in some places, so allow lots of time for getting around.

You might also consider taking one of the excellent local tours, either a half-day or full day tour. That would provide a wider perspective of the D-Day events, including those at Utah Beach. If you decide to do that, you'll need to get something booked soon! Some of the guides take time-off on the anniversary so they can attend the ceremonies, so it may be challenging to find one. Have a look at THIS thread for information on some of the tour firms in that area.

One other point to mention is that each driver will require either an International Driver's Permit or a certified translation of your D.L.

Posted by
4511 posts

Utah Beach is a nice visit as it is the farthest one and around the "corner" so less busy. It is also nearly undeveloped so maintains a 1940s feel.

It won't take you a day, an hour at the beach is plenty of time.

Posted by
139 posts

Yes, you should really also visit Omaha beach and the American cemetery (which is right off Omaha). I'd recommend a tour as well if you can book one.

Posted by
1134 posts

Having been to the Normandy D-day area several times, I concur with many comments here, and add the following. First, good thing you have a car. Without one, you would really need to have a tour guide. This is a very spread out area with no public transportation. Many day-trippers never make it as far as Utah Beach, but there is much to see there. In my opinion, the museum at Utah Beach is the best D-Day museum in the area. Once there drive a little North of the museum on the coastal road and you will see, and can climb around, many of the coastal fortifications. Nearby, the towns of Saint-Marie-du-Mont and especially Saint-Mère-Église are easy to get to. The latter truly celebrates the airborne divisions who linked up with the troops coming ashore on Utah Beach. There is a great town square and an Airborne museum that are well worth visiting. Going to or from Utah Beach, I also highly recommend stopping at the American Cemetery in Colleville, and at Pointe-du-Hoc. Also, a little further East is the coastal battery at Longues-sur-Mer which is a lovely bluff walk, and gives an idea of what the allied troops had to contend with on the beaches. If the area gets a little too rural for you (I personally love it), continue back a little East to Bayeux for at least a meal. It is a wonderful medieval town/city that was spared the destruction that hit most other towns its size in WWII. There is also a beautiful cathedral there, and the Bayeux tapestry which tells the tale of another “invasion” going the other way in the year 1066. Finally, read up ahead of time on the history to make the most of things, and have a great trip! I’ll be there again this year from June 1–7.

Posted by
75 posts

I have to echo Phil's post. Also, while there may be "congestion" from D-Day celebrations, that's when the area is most enjoyable from a WWII history perspective, at least to me. Thousands of re-enactors from all over Europe wear authentic uniforms and bring equipment, vehicles, even tanks to the area - it really feels like Normandy circa June 1944. So don't shy away from Normandy in early June!