Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Does the Caen Memorial give a good overview of the Battle for Normandy?

Does the Caen Memorial give a good overview of the Battle for Normandy?

May 31st, 2007, 06:37 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
Does the Caen Memorial give a good overview of the Battle for Normandy?

The website for le memorial de Caen did not provide much information about what we would see within the museum. If I was to go to only one Normandy battle museum while staying in Bayeux would this be the one you would recommend?

It seems many towns along the beaches have a museum devoted to some part of the conflict but I am only scheduling two of our four days for the beaches. This is our second stay in Bayeux and I'm wondering if going to Caen just for the museum should be included in the schedule.

Thank you for any comments. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 07:22 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 75,917
I've been to all the museums but not recently and the Caen Memorial to me was by far the most complete and had the best presentation - huge relief map that shows all the action plus many relics - if one i'd chose that.

That said it's a bit incovenient if you have short time to go there from Caen - and like you say there are museums along the beaches themselves - when i visited these quite a few years ago they seemed antiquated but maybe they've been reinvigorated.

If you take the mini-bus tours from Bayeux these will give you a great insight into overall stuff.
PalenQ is online now  
May 31st, 2007, 08:03 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
thanks PalenQ, my husband and I will probably do a self drive rather than with a tour group. I have the little booklet from Normandie Terre-Liberte and it shows museums as specific as radar, plus each of the beaches having a museum and several pertaining to the airborne divisions.

I'd like to give a payback to my husband for the half day we spent in the costume museum in Bath I wanted to see if the Caen museum would give me the best understanding of the battles that took place rather than lots of little topic specific museums.

thanks for any other opinions. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 08:04 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 75,917
If driving it's really a short detour and the museum in Caen is on the western edge of town i believe so easy to reach by car and then head north to Oustreham to start the beach drive and a string of smaller museums.
PalenQ is online now  
May 31st, 2007, 08:27 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
Good point, we could do the itinerary the booklet calls the Overlord-l'Assault on the first day from Ouistreham to Port en Bessin. The second day the itinerary from Bayeux through Pointe du Hoc called the Onslaught. I think that combination should please my husband. Thanks, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 08:33 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 75,917
I've ridden my bike over that route and driven it - very nice itinerary.

Before i went my WWII vet Dad told me many times about the famous hedgerows of Normandy that were barriers to Allied tanks - and when i was riding the roads i saw that they are ubiquitous and date back ages. And there are still points where you can see tanks blasted thru them.

One of the most poignant places to me is Ste Mere Eglise - the small town where an american paratrooper got snagged on the church steeple - inside the church a modern stained-glass window documents the liberation of the town by the paratroopers descending from the sky.
PalenQ is online now  
May 31st, 2007, 09:09 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
PalenQ, My husband and I do not have any relatives who fought in WWII so what we know comes from books and museums. In Saint Martin des Besaces there is a museum about the fighters in the hedgerows. I thought what an unusual focus for a museum, but from your point of view it could be a very meaningful museum. Perhaps you have visited it, Musee De La Percee du Bocage? Thanks for the help, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 03:38 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,765
I recently got back from a trip to Normandy. Le Memorial in Caen is definitely the best museum - extremely well-done. I was there several hours, and didn't see it all.

One suggestion:before your trip try to
see "The Longest Day and "Saving Pvt.Ryan". I didn't do that and wish I had. My grandson happened to have both, so I just saw both those films after getting back. I had seen "The Longest Day" years ago, but it made much more of an impact this time. "Saving Private Ryan" is difficult to watch, but well worth it.
Another GREAT WWII movie is "Patton" - not specifically about Normandy Invasion, but I had forgotten how wonderful it was until I watched it on Memorial Day.

Again, to answer your original question, the smaller museums don't compare with Le Memorial.
Sue4 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 03:55 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 374
I wouldn't miss the Caen Peace Museum/memorial. It is a moving experience. We were in the area for two nights. We stopped at the Caen museum at 2 and stayed for 4 hours. We then drove onto Bayeaux. In the morning we went to the American cemetery and then over to Juno Beach to see more of the beaches. Lunch in Bayeux and saw the tapesty at 2:00 that afternoon. The Caen museum takes visitors through the history sequentialy from the time Hitler first started invading through the end of the war. Then there is an incredible film,(that I think is best viewed after the exhibit), that really helps one understand the devestation. There are no words. But none are necessary. There is also another film as well. Finally there is a beautiful park and an exhibit of Nobel Peace prize winners. Bottom line is that I would not miss this and I think it is best if viewed before seeing the beaches or cemetary.
chevre is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 04:54 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
An aside (which you may or may not find interesting - so sue me) is that an American Army Sergeant named Cullins figured out how to build a "plow" for the front of our tanks that would penetrate a hedgerow right down at road level.

He welded together some scrap steel (beach obstacles provided by the Nazis) and attached the resulting device to the front of a Sherman, giving the Allies the leg up they needed.

I always thought this was the ultimate in beating swords into plowshares.
Robespierre is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 06:31 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
robespierre, your aside is exactly what one would expect to find in a comprehensive WWII museum, although the directors may not be clever enough to give the swords to plowshares analogy

I was very disappointed in the English Version of the Caen Memorial website as it gave no indication what would be discovered during a visit. From the recommendations here it would appear a stop at the museum to be time well spent.

Thanks for your opinions, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 06:52 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
Sue, I did see Saving Private Ryan when it first came out and the impact of the opening scenes remain with me to this day. I also watched Band of Brothers when it was on TV.

I was at the WWII memorial in DC early in May and observing the visiting war veterans tour the site left me in tears. They were treated like royalty by the younger generations, as well they should.

I would hope a well done WWII D-Day museum would be equally moving. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 05:45 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,765
DeborahAnn, I'm sure you'll be glad if you make the trip to Caen. I almost didn't go to the museum, but was so happy I did. My stepfather is a WWII Air Force veteran (was shot down by the Germans and was a prisoner in Bulgaria until freed by the Russians) and I always get emotional at WWII sites. Even after my recent 2 weeks in Normandy I want to go back, to the Beaches especially.
Sue4 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 05:53 PM
  #14  
mms
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,014
I agree, the Caen Memorial is a must see. We visited a few years ago, but will visit again when we return in a couple weeks.
mms is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 06:30 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 543
Another vote for the Caen Museum. Quite comprehensive. I would recommend reading Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose, at least the first part where the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne led by one of my heroes, Major Dick Winters, parachutes into Normandy before the landings on those 5 beaches. Stephen Ambrose also wrote Pegasus Bridge which details the British led by John Howard and their efforts to hold the bridge at the River Orne no matter what the price.
LindaL is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 06:31 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 374
When visiting this part of France the driver of my bus described taking a tour of WWII vets around. One veteran in particular was interested in returning to a village he had helped during the invasion as a medic, but he couldn't remember the name. His discription was thorough enough that the driver figured out which village it was. When they found it a plaque was mounted on the church thanking this veteran and his comrades for the life saving help they had given. This is area of France is facinating. And even some 60 years later, it is a part of France that is particularly welcoming to Americans.
chevre is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 08:59 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 543
Chevre, that's a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.
LindaL is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 04:41 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,083
Is the Bayeux museum still open? I heard a rumour that something was happening with it ages ago.
Its some time since I was there last but
I found that to be pretty good too.

Muck
Mucky is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 04:47 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,083
Also I forgot to add this link which has some good information about monuments,towns and cities in Normandy area.

http://www.normandie44lamemoire.com/...lles%20us.html
Mucky is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 05:52 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,256
murky, what a fantastic website, I just looked at the listing for Bayeux and found so many memorial points located around the town. I've added it to my growing list of Normandy/Brittany web favorites. I know my husband will enjoy as well. Thanks, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:34 AM.