Musée du Débarquement

Parking

The museum does not have its own car park, but the town's main car park is right outside.

Toilets

There are none, but public toilets are at the side of the building and across the road.

Gift Shop

There is a gift shop with a nice selection of items available for purchase.

The Musée du Débarquement is situated on the sea-front at Arromanches-les-Bains, just a few hundred feet from the closest remnants of Mulberry B - or "Port Winston" - the artificial harbour constructed at Gold Beach in the days after D-Day. It houses some unique items, and is the second oldest D-Day/Battle of Normandy museum in the region, having been opened in 1954 by René Coty the then President of France.

In poor weather, the large windows of the museum allow a fabulous, sheltered view of the remains of the breakwater and pontoons. Overhead three large screens display archive film of the harbour after D-Day and contemporary footage of the remains as they appear today. Immediately behind is a large, detailed small-scale diorama of the port layout in all its complexity, where museum guides will provide an orientation at the start of the guided tour. The tours are not mandatory and are conducted in different languages. There are some other excellent, larger-scale models providing more detail of certain parts of the harbour - particularly the Phoenix caissons, floating roadways and pier heads. Perhaps our favourite harbour-related item is an original part of a blackboard used to keep track of ships discharging their cargoes of supplies.

It is not just the Mulberry Harbour that this museum illustrates. The are many cabinets with both artefacts and uniformed mannequins covering a wide range of guises from the RAF, Royal Navy and Free French Navy to a British and American paratrooper. There is a nicely restored jeep and a life-sized diorama of a field radio tent. One of the more unusual items hangs from the ceiling - a "Rupert" dummy parachutist created for the film The Longest Day. A considerable amount of artistic licence was used when creating the film prop version, and it is interesting to compare it to one of the original hessian ones which the museum also has safely behind glass.

Dotted around the outside of the museum are various larger articles, including an American half-track, several British pieces of towed artillery, a searchlight and a section of "Whale" floating roadway upon which sits a bulldozer. At the far end of the car park outside the museum is a nice example of the notorious German "88" anti-aircraft gun, also so effective against Allied tanks. Back inside, there are two different films to watch and the museum staff will announce these and the language the next showing is to be broadcast in.

Despite its age the museum has managed to keep itself relevant to the newer generation of visitors, with almost 300,000 of them in 2016. Whilst it is not crammed full of interactive digital technology, touchscreens and "immersive experiences" we don't actually think that is a bad thing.


Updated: February 2017



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