The D-Day Landing Beaches
If the Normandy landings nearly failed anywhere, it was certainly on Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer. The heavy losses suffered by American troops on D-Day earned it the name of "Bloody Omaha".
© Thierry HOUYEL
Omaha Beach is one of the five Landing beaches. The future of France and Europe was at stake here on 6th June 1944. When you visit this beach which extends over Vierville-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer and Colleville-sur-Mer, you will obtain a clearer idea of the progress of the battles. The Bessin coastline is composed of steep chalk cliffs, which rise one hundred feet or so above the sea. Inaugurated in 1956, the American cemetery at Colleville was laid out in an area of 70 hectares (170 acres) which was ceded to the United States by the French government.
The visit begins by the Visitor Center where the details of Operation Overlord are explained. Outside, a viewpoint diagram placed in front of a water mirror, shows the beaches where the Allied forces landed. Looking to the West one can see the cemetery and behind it, a round chapel. The cemetery contains 9,387 gravestones perfectly aligned on a majestic expanse of green lawn. Every day, at the end of the afternoon, visitors can watch the ceremony of the Lowering of the Colours. To the sound of a military hymn, the American flag is lowered and folded. The American ceremony is the biggest, the most well known and the most moving of the Normandy Landing cemeteries.
> Virtual tour of Omaha beach and the American cemetery
Worth a visit
The Americain cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer: every year more than a million visitors come to pay homage.
Omaha Memorial Museum at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer: on the actual site of Omaha Beach, the museum, which has an area of 13,000 sq ft, displays a fine collection of uniforms, weapons, personal objects and vehicles. Numerous scenes, vivid archive photos, maps and a film commented by American veterans, explain the landings on Omaha and the Pointe du Hoc.
Statue les Braves: On the sand of Omaha Beach, at Saint Laurent sur mer, stands the Statue des Braves. This steel sculpture is a fine homage in honour of the soldiers who landed here on 6th June 1944.
The pointe du Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin is the symbol of the courage of the young Allied soldiers. This famous point was one of the strong points of the German fortifications.