Musée des Epaves Sous-Marines

Parking

The museum has its own free car park.

Toilets

There are no toilets at the museum.

Gift Shop

There are a number of items for sale inside.

A unique museum in Normandy, the Musée des Epaves Sous-Marines (Museum of Underwater Wrecks) opened its doors in 1990. The collection represents the achievements of 25 years of underwater exploration of the Normandy coastline by Jacques Lemonchois. At the end of teh war, responsibility for clearing the many sunken ships and other wreckage from the landing beaches fell to the French government. Many private contractors were employed who removed the remains of ships and sold the metal as scrap. In 1970, Jacques Lemonchois was given a contract to remove a certain number of wrecks remained which presented a danger to navigation. This museum represents that legacy.

The museum loses one star rating instantly for prohibiting photography inside. It loses another half star for only accepting cash and no credit cards. Fortunately, it is still possible to use cameras outside which is where the larger items, such as tanks, self-propelled guns, ship's machinery and propeller shafts are located. Inside, visitors can watch a film (English and French versions available) which tells the story of Jacques Lemonchois and some interviews. There are many smaller items on display that were recovered from ships and from inside some of the tank and other vehicles that were salvaged. These include brushes, combs, photographs, toothpaste and even personal letters.

One of the vehicles salved by Jacques Lemonchois in the 1980's was an M7 Priest. It had been found 3 miles offshore from Omaha Beach, preserved in the mud of the seabed. Under the driver's seat the recovery team found letters from a certain John Glass to his girlfriend back in the United States. After some investigation, Lemonchois discovered that John Glass had not only survived the sinking of his Priest, but also the war. He had returned home to North Carolina in 1945. Lemonchois eventually managed to get in contact with Glass, and now a cabinet in the museum contains the personal effects recovered including his helmet and shoes. John Glass returned to Normandy to meet Jacques Lemonchois and revisit his old abandoned M7.

It is a shame that the staff here have a reputation for not being especially welcoming, and for watching visitors closely to ensure they don't take photographs inside the building. We have also read reports from visitors that have complained about the film being stopped early so the museum could be closed. Although we haven't experienced this ourselves, we've certainly never found it as welcoming as other places we visit. Sadly, the founder died in 2007 and perhaps it is now run solely as a business without the personal connection.

This really is a unique collection, and with some investment it would be lovely to see the larger pieces moved under cover to protect them from the elements. There are covered in a rust-preventative coating, which gives them a glossy appearance, but they are still deteriorating over time. On one of the DD (duplex drive) tanks it is still possible to see the remains of parts of the rubber hoses that were used to inflate the canvas "skirt" to allowing the tank to swim ashore. It's should be visited, even if just once, but it could it could be so much more in the right hands.


Updated: July 2015



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