Musée Mémorial Bataille de Normandie

Parking

There is a good car park, also handy if visiting the Bayeux War Cemetery.

Toilets

There are well maintained toilets inside the musuem.

Gift Shop

Gifts and souvenirs are available in the shop, accessible without museum entry.

Originally born out of a temporary exhibition in Bayeux visited by American President Jimmy Carter in 1978, the permanent museum was inaugurated in July 1981. It doubled in size for 1986 to 2000m² and was again expanded in 1994 for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy. It changed quite significantly a decade later when the owner of many of the items on display at the museum withdrew the collection, and for a time there were questions about its future. However, if 2006 it emerged as we know it today, a bit leaner but in many ways better than before. In 2015 it welcomed some 92,000 visitors.

Outside on the museum grounds are several pieces of armour. In the corner of the car park is the squat looking form of a German Jagdpanzer 38(t) or "Hetzer". Nearer the entrance to the museum are an M4A1 Sherman and an M10 Wolverine Tank Destroyer. At the end of the grassed area, furthest from the car park, is a British Churchill Mk VII "Crocodile" flamethrower tank - one of Hobart's Funnies.

The Battle of Normandy really is covered from every angle, with the museum in organised into three sections - June, July and August 1944. The exhibition space is a lot different to how it looked prior to 2006. Gone are the rows of mannequin-filled, glass cabinets - having been replaced by a much broader and more informative mix of information panels and exhibits in cabinets. There are also larger pieces of equipment, vehicles and several dioramas including one that is pretty sizeable. To get the most out of visit to this museum, visitors should be prepared to spend some time reading the many varied information displays. There are English translations, but in some places the text size could do with being a little larger.

If you are looking for a museum stacked to the rafters with original wartime artefacts on display, then this is probably not the best place for you. For that you should head over to Omaha Beach and you'll see who the gold medallists would be if "cramming things into a museum" was an Olympic sport. However, if you really want to learn about the winder picture of Overlord/Neptune and not just D-Day or specific parts of the battle front, then this museum would be near the top of our list of recommendations. It's a bit like walking through a Dorling Kindersley book of Operation Overlord.

As with most of the museum in Normandy the museum has its own film. The one at Bayeux is called "Normandy 44, a Decisive Victory in the West" and was directed by Dominique Forget. Composed of archive footage it tells the story of the Battle of Normandy until the encircling of the German 7th Army on 21st August. It runs for about 25 minutes and the next showing and language will be announced by museum staff. Be careful, as in the cinema area there is not a lot of light to try and find a seat.

The largest items inside the museum are the vehicles on display towards the end of the visit. These include a Caterpillar D7 Bulldozer, vital in clearing obstacles and rubble and in the construction of roads to aid the Allied advances. There is also a rare GMC CCKW SCR399 radio truck, M3 half-track and a Sexton self-propelled gun.

Visitors should be aware that flash photography is not allowed inside the museum, although taking photographs without flash is permitted. Prior to 2006 photography wasn't permitted at all, so at least just "no flashes" is an improvement there.

Those taking the time to visit the Musée Mémorial Bataille de Normandie should not do so without taking the short walk along the main road to the Bayeux Commonwealth War Cemetery and the imposing Bayeux Memorial which stands opposite the cemetery and has inscribed upon it the names of over 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died in the early stages of the campaign and who have no known grave. Also nearby is the Memorial for War Reporters, remembering journalists killed in conflicts from the Second World War to the present day.


Updated: July 2016



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