France: Caen Memorial Museum
By Max Hartshorne
We visited the D-Day beaches, the Caen Memorial Museum, the villages of Arromanches and St. Mere D’ Eglise, the nearly destroyed city of Le Havre and pillboxes embedded over the beaches at Longue-sur-mer.
It left us in awe of the size and scope of the battles, and impressed with how much of an impact the war still has on this region.
June’s trip to Normandy left me full of questions and full of new information, especially after my trip to the Caen Memorial. Built in 1988, this expansive display explains the reasons, events and consequences of the Second World War. The museum’s eventual goal is to chronicle more history up to the Cold War.
The museum does this by providing a walking, speaking, illustrated history of the year by year events that lead to the conflict. It’s hard to keep moving in the line since the wall’s contents are so detailed and so intriguing. This is a very emotional experience, the museum starts with a timeline on one wall that you can follow to view the entire progress of the war, from the very beginning to the end in 1945.
Inside the Caen Memorial, a complete history of how the war started and what happened, in pictures, video and artifacts.
You can choose your experience with museum package deals. A day pass will give you a day of museum exploration as well as limited guided tours to D-Day beaches. A D-Day tour will give you the complete D-Day experience, an extensive guided tour to all D-Day beaches as well as museum access to the the 2nd Word War area of the museum. Visit the site for more day packages.
The museum also offers short two day stays for extensive site and city touring, including a hotel booking and select meals.
In 2004 an important milestone occurred when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac exchanged brotherly regards.
In the city of Caen, half-day trips are offered that take in all of these important sites on the beach towns in the north, about 45 minutes from the city center. The cost is $59E per person, and it departs daily from in a 15 passenger mini bus.
Museum is open every day 9 am to 7 pm until Nov 11.
From Nov 12 to Dec 31, the museum is open 9 am to 6 pm, closed Mondays.
Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.