Normandy is a fantastic place for history buffs to visit at any time. After all, this was the site of the D-Day landings of World War II, and today it is home to an excellent selection of informative museums and moving memorials. But this summer might just be a better time than ever to make the trip to this fascinating part of France.
Why? Well, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Normandy landings and so, as you’d expect, a wide array of events have been organised to commemorate this historic milestone. Attending any of these is a great way to remember those who fought for the freedom we have today, while simply visiting the many sites associated with the war around the area will help you gain a greater understanding of the conflict.
In fact, if you’re really keen to find out more about D-Day and its impact on history, then it’s well worth looking into specialist tours – there will be plenty of these taking place to mark the 100th anniversary. For instance, Fred. Olsen is offering anniversary cruises that call in at Zeebruges (from where it’s just a short trip to Bruges), Dunkirk and Portsmouth – an amazing opportunity to commemorate the anniversary in a way you’ll never forget.
The D-Day landings: a brief overview
The D-Day landings took place on June 6th 1944, and represent one of the most significant elements of the second world war. Part of Operation Overlord and the Allied invasion of Normandy, the landings were a real turning point in the war, though the battle for Normandy dragged for several months – much longer than was intended.
The landings turned Normandy into one of the biggest battlefields ever seen. A month into the battle, things looked bleak for Allied forces, but at the end of July the tide turned, with American troops breaking through German defences.
One hundred years after the conflict, the Battle of Normandy shall once again be the focus of the world’s attention for its centenary. Between June and August, hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive in Normandy to discover its war memorials and museums, and attend commemorative events.
All kinds of events have been arranged to mark the anniversary, including parades and parachute drops, as well as spectacular firework displays and open-air concerts. So, this is certainly an exciting time to visit – as well as a moving one.
Places to visit
There are loads of great places to visit to find out more about Normandy’s involvement in the second world war. Plus, if you decide to go on an anniversary cruise, you should find that there’s a huge array of excursions to choose from, including trips to the top museums and memorial sites, making it really easy to learn more.
Interestingly, one of the top places to visit is actually right here in the UK. The D-Day Museum in Southsea, near Portsmouth, is the only museum in the UK to be solely focused on this part of history – and also marks the fact that Portsmouth played a crucial role in the D-Day landings.
Come here and you can see the Overlord Embroidery, which is 83 m long and acts as a tribute to all those who fought in the Battle of Normandy. Plus, you can see powerful film footage and much more to really take you back to the 1940s.
France and Belgium, as you’d expect, have an abundance of museums and memorials dedicated to this period of history. Among the most interesting sites to visit is the Atlantik Wall Open Air Museum, which gives you the opportunity to walk through preserved trenches and bunkers – and therefore get a feel for what living through the conflict was actually like.