Normandy: Beaches and Surrounds, Part 2

Part 2 of beaches and surrounds, takes you through what else Normandy offers…

Check out Normandy: Beaches and Surrounds, Part 1, for travel tips on how to get to the beaches of the infamous D-Day Landings of the 6th of June 1944.

Normandy, France, Europe

Getting to Normandy

Poole, United Kingdom to Cherbourg, France, Europe

From Poole in the United Kingdom, book a Brittany Ferries trip across the English Channel to reach Cherbourg in around 5 hours.

Lucky enough to take a car on the ferry, which costs more understandably, but at least there isn’t the need to hire a car in France, so less hassle.


After managing to visit four out of the five D-Day Landings beaches and cemeteries, decide to explore more historical areas in Normandy.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Normandy, France, Europe
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Pegasus Bridge

Between Caen and Ouistreham, Pegasus Bridge and the Memorial Pegasus (€7.50 entry) is situated on the Orne Canal in Bénouville, and an easy 15-kilometre drive from Caen.

Pegasus, bridge, Normandy, France
Replacement replica bridge

A vital strategic position during the Allied invasion in France, previously named the Caen Canal Bridge, this bridge was renamed in 1944 in honour of the British Airborne Forces’ operation. Pegasus is the emblem worn by the 6th Airborne Division who landed in Normandy.

Pegasus, bridge, Normandy, France
Museum memorial

The role of the Glider Infantry unit was to “land, take the bridges intact and hold them until relieved”.

This strategy was to prevent German armour from crossing bridges and attacking the eastern side of the landings at Sword Beach. Also, following the Normandy invasion, this would limit the effectiveness of a German counter-attack.

The incredulous thing to mention here is that the first Glider landed as close as 47 yards (about 42 metres) from the objective, surprising completely the German defenders and within 10 minutes, taking the bridges.

Pegasus, Normandy, France
Glider landing site – just 42 metres from the bridge

Be sure to visit the excellent museum, where you will easily spend a few hours here learning about the bridge and its significance during the D-Day landings. A shop and cafe provide respite if you need a break from information overload.

Flag, Pegasus, Normandy, France
Flags on the Orne Canal

The original Pegasus Bridge built-in 1934 is displayed at the Pegasus Museum.

Pegasus, Normandy, France
Original bridge safely at museum’s grounds

The currently functioning bridge is a replacement.


Hill 112

Near Vieux, the memorial of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division is not an easy site to locate…

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
In memory of Hill 112’s fallen

…as the site is literally in the middle of nowhere and amongst beautiful French farm fields.

Hill 112, Normandy, France
Hill 112 plaque

Hill 112 was a strategic highpoint, which offered commanding views out to sea and over the countryside to the south, west, and east of Caen.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
The brave of Hill 112

Germans observed the Allies from this vantage point and so, this was the objective of capturing the hill from the Germans.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
Death fields

On arriving, we had this site to ourselves for a while, apart from another elderly couple but only until the tour bus arrived, spoiling the silence and ambience.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
Snippets of time

I’m one of those painful people that likes to absorb such shrines in silence as this is a time to reflect, remember, and pay respects.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
Remember the dead

A restored British Churchill tank sits quietly next to the memorial.

British Churchill Tank, Hill 112 Vieux, Normandy, France, Europe

Take a stroll down the dirt road towards a small wooded area named Cornwall Wood and you will come across more solitary graves.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
Cornwall Wood

This woodland exudes an eerie presence. I’m not sure whether this is psychological or otherwise, but it feels like a place of death.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial, Cornwall wood
Plaque in the Wood

Sporadic plaques are all that remain in the woodland.

Hill 112, Normandy, France, memorial
Lest We Forget

Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery

As the largest WWII cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France, this cemetery holds 4,648 burials of which most are from the Normandy Invasion.

Bayeux, War Graves Commission Cemetery, France, Normandy
All regiments and countries

Although Bayeux itself did not experience a particular battle, soldiers that died on Sword Beach and from around the regions were brought to this cemetery.

Bayeux, War Graves Commission Cemetery, France Normandy
In the end, it really doesn’t matter what faith…
Bayeux memorial, Normandy, France
Memorial entrance

The Bayeux Memorial is opposite the cemetery and commemorates more than 1,800 casualties of the Commonwealth forces…

Bayeux, Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Normandy, France
Solitary flag…

…that died in Normandy and have no known graves.


Additional sights

This region also offers many wonderful experiences, such as soaking up the Normandy medieval history encompassed by gorgeous architecture.

Bayeux, Normandy, France, Gothic
Medieval Bayeux

Visiting the Bayeux Tapestry is a must. Why not take in a wine tasting tour if you have time, or just enjoy the wonderful food on offer…


Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux

Wow! I’d heard about the Tapisserie de Bayeux in history lessons, but to actually see this in the flesh is amazing. To think this almost 70-metre long tapestry is 1,000 years old is mind-blowing.

Originally embroidered in wool, the tapestry was created to tell the story to illiterate people by using pictures of events, leading up to the Norman conquest of England – William (Duke of Normandy) and Harold (Earl of Wessex, later King of England), which culminated in the Battle of Hastings.

What an ingenious depiction, which has outlasted many wars and centuries.

You are not free to walk around the 70-metre long glass as you please. Instead, everyone is ushered around the reception desk where you can collect your headphones (free with ticket) and directed to the start of the tapestry. Here, you are encouraged to walk from the start to the finish in an orderly line. If you wish to stop longer at any point, you can step out of the moving line. Once at the finish, you exit and cannot go in for a second look, so make the most of your visit.

Wish I stepped out of the line more to really take in this amazing piece of history.

Photos are not allowed. The tapestry museum is also included in the €9 ticket price and is well-appointed with dioramas and wonderful intricate models of villages, which depict everyday life from 1,000 years ago.


Bayeux Cathedral

The impressive and stunning Norman-Gothic Bayeux Cathedral dates back to 1077.

Bayeux, cathedral, Normandy, France
Gothic cloisters

Experiencing damage in the 12th Century, the cathedral was rebuilt in the Gothic style. Some re-building started in the 15th Century but was not completed until the 19th Century.

Bayeux, cathedral, Normandy, France
In full view

Do visit Salon de The (47 Rue Saint-Martin) whilst in Bayeux, which is a wonderful tea house with beautiful surroundings.

Stroll through the door to be thrown back to the 1800s with a massive crystal chandelier, ornate white tables and chairs, a huge ornate mirror, and a fresco-like painted ceiling. Not to mention the scrumptious freshly baked pastries (€0.80+), wonderful Gateau (€2+), and handmade chocolates.

Bayeux, cafe, Normandy, France
Another wonderful French cafe

I think this is the cheapest coffee around €2.50 compared to €3-4 elsewhere in town.

Bayeux, pastisserie, Normandy, France
Deliciousness

A wonderful family-run business, very friendly and inviting but not so great for the waistline.


Leaving Normandy

After an amazing but truly emotional 3-night, 4-day stay in Normandy, need to press on and continue driving to southern Italy as the Schengen clock is ticking.

What could possibly go wrong on this leisurely drive?

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on France at Image Earth Travel.

Omaha, Normandy, France
Omaha Beach – western world’s freedom was won

19 thoughts on “Normandy: Beaches and Surrounds, Part 2

Add yours

  1. Thank you, no I had not seen part 1 for some reason. Although I never saw the beaches, my aunt’s husband (she was a Gi bride) was In France and talked about all those places and one way and another I came to know little bits about the war. People had such amazing courage and fortitude. Lord Lovat having his men piped ashore..a real bloody-minded Scott. How magnificent they were. There are so many lessons to be learned from all of it. In truth, I think I would be overcome if I went, though I would love to if it was possible. I can no longer travel. It’s too problematic. Which is why I so appreciate your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that people of that era were more resilient than these days. We also take too much and our freedom for granted, so the least we can do is respect the people that made this possible. I hope this history isn’t lost in the future.
      Lovely of you to say and thank you – this made my day! So happy that you enjoy my travel articles and please feel free to share them around to help others discover more places. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my regrets is that I never went back to explore Europe and particularly those sights. As a British citizen, I ought to have gone to pay respect to the people who fought with all their strength and courage to retain our freedom. I have always carried gratitude and respect in my heart. Maybe that is what counts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the fact that you at least acknowledge the fallen makes up for not visiting. I’ve spoken with people that haven’t a clue about Normandy or other battles – it’s history to them and they have no interest in remembering, which is tragic and self-centred, but that’s my view. 😉

      Did you read Part 1?

      My partner takes me to all the Commonwealth war graves around the world as he’s passionate about WW1 and WW11 history (but most wars). Normandy is quite a special experience and I hope that you can still get there one day. Thank you for leaving me your thoughts Carolyn.

      Liked by 1 person

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