D-Day Beaches

by CameronM Wed, June 26 2013 08:19

One of the problems you face arriving in a new country is getting in tune with the local daily rhythm of life. This seems especially difficult when your body clock is also a little out of whack due to long days and international flights. Today we woke up at 4am, well before anything was open and eventually left the hotel at about 7am in an effort to find something to eat.

We were headed to Merville, home of a German Battery attacked by British paratroopers in the early hours of D-Day. En-route we crossed Pegasus Bridge, an important crossing that was also an important target of British airborne troops (this time glider-borne). The original bridge has been replaced, but has been moved to the museum located across the road. The early morning fog added to the atmosphere as we walked across the bridge to look at the tank located on the Benouville side of the bridge.

We eventually found an open café in Franceville, an exceptionally quaint seaside village and had a coffee/hot chocolate. While we waited for the Merville Battery Memorial to open, we walked along the beach and Zane played in the playground. Shortly before 9am I noticed a strange shape in the fog off the beach. As I watched, a fisherman immerged from the slowly lifting fog. As I continued looking, more shapes materialized, including several groups of fisherman and two horses trotting. It was strange to think that all the time we’d been on the beach apparently alone there was a crowd of folks out in the fog.

After checking out the Merville battery, we headed back across Pegasus Bridge towards Arromanches. We took the road closest to the water whenever possible, much to the chagrin of our GPS , but were rewarded with numerous picturesque villages. At one such village, Luc-sur-Mer, we stopped and did some shopping at the local street market.

We ate lunch on the hill above Arromanches. Where for some reason I still can’t understand, we had to pay for parking. The hill did offer a great view of the remains of the artificial harbor built by the allies as part of the Battle of Normandy. We enjoyed our bread, cheese and sausage, while admiring the enormity of the task facing the allies and the amazing landscape.


A little further down the road we stopped at the German battery at Longues-sur-Mer, which is home to four large gun casements, some with the rusted remains of their giant guns. Most of the casements are in great condition, considering they were the target of tons of bombs and barrages from numerous warships on D-Day.