Musée du Débarquement Utah Beach

Parking

The is plenty of parking across the field in front of the museum, some ground is badly maintained.

Toilets

There are large, well-maintained toilets inside the lobby, and can be accessed prior to buying tickets.

Gift Shop

There is a very good gift shop, with many books and other items for sale. There are also vending machines.

The museum at Utah Beach has always been a good one, but in 2011 it underwent a major renovation. It's now up there with the best in Normandy and we're happy to award it a full five stars. It looks in detail at every aspect of the fighting at Utah Beach, from the German defenses and the Allied bombardments to the Commanche code-talkers and the artifical port "G1". Its clear that a lot of time and energy, not to mention money, were invested in the museums overhaul. It has a modern feel, but no as cold and clinical as some of the other "modern" museums in Normandy.

As part of the expansion the museum received on long-term loan a B-26 Marauder aircraft from Le Bourget Air & Space Museum in Paris. Although not a wartime combat veteran itself, the aircraft is one of only six surviving Marauders - an aircraft which played a vital role in the bombardment of German targets before and after D-Day. Built partially over the top of an original German bunker of WN5, the museum has expanded with steel framed glass "hangar" housing an aircraft.

As well as many cabinets containing exhibits, there are a number of larger items inside. Restored and protected from the elements visitors will now find the LCVP "Higgins Boat" landing craft and LVT-2 Water Buffalo - both of which stood outside in the elements for many years. Inside, the information panels displayed are in both languages also, and these have been really nicely designed to be stylish, modern and simple. There are also numerous video screens and interactive displays dotted around.

There is an excellent film called Victory in the Sand, and both English language and French versions are played, alternating approximately every 20 minutes (times are listed on the ticket counter). This is really an excellent production worthy of the History Channel. Using modern computer generated graphics and stereoscopic imaging techniques it really is a joy to watch. It won the 2013 CINE Special Jury award for Best Museum Documentary, and it captures the dramatic events of the Allied landing at Utah Beach on D-Day. You can download a short clip of "Victory in the Sand" here, but it's a shame it's not available to purchase on DVD from the museum shop.

Outside the museum stand several wartime relics, including a Sherman Firefly tank and a piece of America towed artillery. All around the area, along the beach to the north and in the dunes behind are German bunkers and tobruks. Be careful when walking, but there is a lot to explore here, even through on a cold and windy day it can seem pretty uninviting. The museum, however, is certainly worth a visit regardless of the weather.

A short walk from the museum is a bar//brasserie called "Le Roosevelt" - named after the General who came ashore at Utah Beach, rather than the President (although he was actually the son of Theodore Roosevelt). Inside the walls and tables are adorned with all manner of D-Day related paraphanalia, and there are several dressed mannequins and scenes. There is also a large amount of period radio equipment, so it's worth popping in just to have a look even if you don't want anything to eat or drink.

Near the museum are a number of monuments and memorials. The most recent is dedicated to Andrew Jackson Higgins, designer of the LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel). Costing more than $300,000 it was inaugurated in 2015 on the 71st Anniversary of D-Day. It comprises a steel water-lying replica of a landing craft, its ramp lowered with three soldiers stormnig up the beach. There are also important memorials to the US Navy, 1st Engineer Special Brigade and 90th Infantry, along with the Federal Monument of the United States. During the annual anniversary commemorations there is usually a large, official ceremony held near the latter. Immediately outside the museum entrance itself is another monument to the 4th Infantry Divison.

Parking is plentiful, with disabled spaces to the south of the museum, and other spaces to the north. The main car park is only about a hundred metres inland from the museum but it has poor quality ground with many potholes. Take care both when driving and when on foot.


Updated: July 2016



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