Normandy Victory Museum

Parking

There is ample free parking outside the museum.

Toilets

There are large, well-maintained toilets on site.

Gift Shop

There is a gift shop with the usual sort items, plus some reproduction military clothing

The Normandy Victory Museum now operates from the premises that briefly (2014-2016) housed the Normandy Tank Museum, which closed citing low visitor numbers and disputes with locals over the use of the airstrip on the site. The airstrip itself was on the site of the original wartime A10 airfield, constructed in the weeks following D-Day. The Normandy Tank Museum closed its doors after just two years in business with the large collection of vehicles and exhibits going for auction. Many items smashed their guide-price to smithereens, and some crazy prices were paid for some of the lots.

It was announced shortly afterwards that new owners would be taking over the exhibition space to house their own collection and focussing on the battle for the bocage - the thick, steeply banked hedgerows that proved so costly to the Allies as they advanced through parts of Normandy. The new museum is quite different from its predecessor, which focused mainly on the equipment and vehicles (both armoured and soft-skinned) used by the Germans and the American forces.

Inside the Normandy Victory Museum, you will find cabinets with interesting artefacts, including civilian personal items and others relating to life under the Occupation, plus military equipment and examples of soldiers' personal effects. There are also around 17 life-sized dioramas which are of a very high standard and of equal quality to those found at the Overlord Museum at Colleville-sur-Mer near Omaha Beach. We particularly like the scene of captured German soldiers sitting against a bunker under guard from some American GIs. Each of these displays has its own detailed description in both French and English. Whilst the life-sized dioramas all have good descriptions, many of the items in the display cabinets do not have any, and where they are present they are in French only. This can be a shame when it comes to some of the more unusual items, however, it does make for some better photographs.

Visitors of the old museum may be disappointed at the lack of so many rare and unusual vehicles on display, but those which are on display at the Normandy Victory Museum are incorporated thoughtfully into the diorama scenes - not just "parked". Despite the supposed focus on the "battle for the hedgerows" we found the museum to be a well-rounded experience. Visitors should be aware that some of the scenes incorporate sound or light effects which are triggered by motion sensors as one approaches. These are not invasive and do certainly add to the atmosphere of the scenes, but those of a nervous disposition might want to be aware of this beforehand.

We first visited the museum shortly after it opened and there were, understandably, one or two things still to be finished off. We also felt that the lighting inside was a little poor in places, both inside some of the display cabinets and within the exhibition space in general. During our most recent visit, in June 2018, we were pleased to see all the unfinished elements now complete. There were also a number of new display cabinets, including some recently unearthed articles from the local area. Although damaged and rusty, we always find newly uncovered items to be of great interest. The owner of the museum is constantly looking for new articles to put on display. Unfortunately, in some areas we still found the lighting to be a little under done.

One nice addition that reminded us of the Castletown D-Day Centre in England were several tables of "hands-on" exhibits, along with a restored jeep which the museum is happy for visitors to climb into. The hands-on exhibits include a radio set, some military helmets and a variety of rifles and automatic weapons, both German and American.

Inside the building but before entering the museum itself there are a number of interactive virtual-reality experiences including aircraft, helicopter and tank simulators, plus another in which the "players" appear to stand up whilst engaging in some sort of virtual combat. These are not included in the museum price and are paid for separately.

Like their Normandy Tank Museum predecessors, the Normandy Victory Museum also offers what it calls "tank" rides. The vehicle itself is not actually a tank, but rather a cold-war era FV432 (tracked armoured personnel carrier) as used by the British Army for many years. However, it still provides visitors with something unique - not offered by the other museums in the area. Again, there is an additional cost for these rides, which last ten minutes. However, when combined with the entrance to the museum the cost is reduced.

There are ample, clean toilets and a very good gift shop. Everything is on a single, flat level so is easily accessible to all. Part of the building adjacent to the museum space has been rented to a café/bar and to a shop selling local produce. This seems like a good idea both in additional revenue, we assume, for the museum, whilst providing something a bit extra for visitors. There is also a restaurant with seating for between 70-75 people, called the A10 Canteen. which opened its doors February 2018.

Sadly, the aeroplane flights offered by the previous tenants, and which apparently caused so much consternation with the local residents, are no longer available. However, as a tribute to the site's aviation heritage as the old A-10 airfield, a life-sized replica of P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft sits not far from the museum building. It looks quite authentic from a distance and is even better since the museum finally fitted the propellers and a the canopy for the cockpit.

There is also now an M4 Sherman tank outside the entrance to the museum, which is on loan from the Musée des Blindés at Saumur (the French equivalent to Bovington Tank Museum, and well worth a visit). The Sherman is in need of a bit of tidying up, but is still a welcome addition for visitors.

If you are driving southbound on the N13 from the direction of Saint-Mère-Église towards Carentan, you may notice and advertising board for the Normandy Victory Museum in a field beside the road. Keep a look out, as its mounted in the bed of a wartime US Army CCKW truck.

Overall this is an excellent museum and is actually much better than the one it replaced. Anyone visiting the Normandy battlefields should certainly spend a couple of hours here.


Updated: July 2018



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