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The American Cemetery at the Normandy Beaches, France

About the D-Day Beaches:

The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach
The American Cemetery at the D-Day Beaches

June 6, 1994 was D-Day, the long-awaited invasion of continental Europe by the allied forces. This undertaking paved the way for the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany. However, it came it a great cost in lives: over 8,000 killed in the invasion. Many of these are buried in the cemetery here:  The cemetery is 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 American War Dead, most of whom died during the landings and ensuing operations.

Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted sites.

Only some of the soldiers who died overseas are buried in the overseas American military cemeteries. When it came time for a permanent burial, the next of kin eligible to make decisions were asked if they wanted their loved ones repatriated for permanent burial in the U.S., or interred at the closest overseas cemetery.

If you are traveling as individuals or a small group, you may want to take one of the organized tours of the D-Day beaches to get a better appreciation of the task that was involved in liberating Europe. If you are with a tour group then this will probably be included in the tour.

There are many opportunities to wander the beaches, marvel at the bravery of the men who scaled pont du hoc, and ponder the enormous effort that went into this one day.

There is a chapel where groups traveling with a priest can schedule Masses.

Typical street scene in Normandy
Typical street scene in Normandy

If you are on your own, you might want to spend a few days on the Normandy coast. One of the most picturesque areas in France, it has many quaint towns as well as other Catholic destinations. You are in short driving distance of Mt. Saint Michel, the Bayeux Tapestry, Pontmain, many of the towns liberated on D-day and other sites.

One unique experience is to stay in a Chateau rather than a hotel. No matter where you stay, time spent in Normandy is sure to be enjoyable and spiritually rewarding. The cemetery is about two hours west of Paris by car or train.

Traveling to the D-Day beaches:

For those traveling independently by train, either Caen or Bayeux are the closest station to the beaches (about 2 hours travel time), and there are many trains daily from Paris and other cities.  Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.

You might want to arrange for a local guided tour of the D-Day beaches that will give you an overview of the landings and the action that took place here.

Address: 14710 Colleville-sur-Mer

GPS coordinates: 49° 20′ 54.9888” N, 0° 50′ 38.5404” W

Tel: tel +33 (0) 2 31 51 62 00

Click here for the official website of the American cemetery at Normandy Beach.

Click here to find hotels & restaurants in the Normandy Beach area, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

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