Normandy Sights

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Mémorial Review

The Mémorial, an imaginative museum erected in 1988 on the north side of the city, is a must-see if you're interested in World War II history. The stark, flat facade, with a narrow doorway symbolizing the Allies' breach in the Nazi's supposedly impregnable Atlantic Wall, opens onto an immense foyer containing a café, brasserie, shop, and British Typhoon aircraft suspended overhead. The museum itself is down a spiral ramp, lined with photos and documents charting the Nazi's rise to power in the 1930s. The idea—hardly subtle but visually effective—is to suggest a descent into the hell of war. The extensive displays range from wartime plastic jewelry to scale models of battleships, with scholarly sections on how the Nazis tracked down radios used by the French Resistance and on the development of the atomic bomb. A room commemorating the Holocaust, with flickering candles and twinkling overhead lights, sounds a jarring, somewhat tacky note. The D-Day landings are evoked by a tabletop Allies map of the theater of war and by a spectacular split-screen presentation of the D-Day invasion from both the Allied and Nazi standpoints. Softening the effect of the modern 1988 museum structure are tranquil gardens; the most recent is the British Garden, inaugurated by Prince Charles in 2004. The museum itself is fittingly located 10 minutes away from the Pegasus Bridge and 15 minutes from the D-Day beaches.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Esplanade Dwight-D.-Eisenhower, Caen, 14000 | Map It
  • Phone: 02–31–06–06–45
  • Cost: €18.50
  • Hours: Mid-Feb.–Oct., daily 9–7; Nov., Dec., and late Jan.–mid-Feb., Tues.–Sun. 9:30–6
  • Website:
  • Location: Caen
Updated: 03-25-2013

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