Visiting Juno Beach
Now more than 60 years after D-Day, the Normandy coast is peaceful with lovely seaside towns and picturesque beaches. Behind the coast is an old-fashioned farming landscape of grain fields, cattle and pastures, hedges and farmhouses. But the memories of war and D-Day are engrained in the landscape. Along the 50-mile D-Day invasion coast there are the remains of German gun emplacements and bunkers, while war memorials and monuments mark where the allied forces landed on the beaches. Inland, there are monuments in almost every village and at every bend in the road, for there is barely a square yard that wasn’t fought over. Beautiful cemeteries overlook the sea and countryside and are essential stops along the way to understand and reflect on the human cost of the war. Along the coast and inland there are numerous D-Day related museums. Only by visiting do you get a proper idea of the vastness of the D-Day operation.
When you visit, “Take time to stroll on the beaches and through the villages and to drive country lanes that are once again regulated by rural rhythms, just as if they’d never been devastated at all. It’s pretty and poignant, and here’s a strange thing, it brings out the best in people. There’s respect in the air and a common bond between visitors. Folk behave well, smile and chat more easily than usual.” Anthony Peregrine, The Sunday Times.
An excellent time to visit is on the June 6th anniversary when there are numerous memorial ceremonies to mark the occasion. A large number of re-enactment groups attend, adding pageantry and atmosphere. The church bells ring in the towns to celebrate the anniversary of their liberation. The French people will be happy to see you - these people remember, and the welcome will be warm.
A Canadian's Guide to the Battlefields of Normandy by Terry Copp, Wilfred Laurier University is a must have book for Canadians planning a trip to Normandy. From the great Vimy pilgrimage of 1936 to the D-Day anniversaries of more recent times, Canadians have been drawn to the memorials and place names in Europe which are a vital part of history. This guide to the Normandy battlefields encourages Canadians to set out on their own journey to those places; not just the landing beaches, memorials and museums, but the villages and fields where young Canadians fought with such bravery to liberate France from Nazi tyranny. This book is an excellent guide to introduce you to towns, museums, chateaus, churches and their historical context. It also offers advice on trip planning, and restaurants.
The Juno Beach Center The Juno Beach Centre is a museum and cultural centre, which opened at Courseulles-sur-Mer, France on June 6, 2003. The Centre presents the war effort made by all Canadians, civilian and military alike, both at home and on the various fronts during the Second World War, as well as the manifold faces of contemporary Canadian society. Guided tours of the beach are available.
Wiki Travel D-Day Beaches descibes the major points of interest on the D-Day beaches.
You can discover the beautiful Normandy region and get information about D-Day and the Battle of Normandy at Normandie Memoire: http://www.normandiememoire.com/?lang=en
A Tourist Guide to Bessin, Bayeux, D-Day Landings & the Battle of Normandy is available on-line at: http://www.bessin-normandie.com/web/telechargement/ You can also pick up a free copy of this guide at the tourism office in Bayeux.
The 70th anniversary schedule of events is avilable at: http://www.bessin-normandie.com/pre-programme-70-eme-anniversaire-debarquement-normandie.html