If your visiting the Normandy France region the WWII Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France a MUST see while there! The immaculate cemetery is a reminder of those who lost their lives on D-Day and during this war. One of the best things about this location is the is fantastic visitor’s center, you don’t want to miss this! While upstairs has some info an a visitors book it’s downstairs that is captivating.
The parking here is free and there are 2 parking lots, one a larger one but we somehow got funneled to a smaller on on the side, which was only a 2 min walk. Rick Steve’s does warn to be careful when parking due to break-ins so make sure you have your important stuff on you (passports, etc) and don’t leave stuff visible in the car. We however did not experience any issues.
Visiting the cemetery and memorial is also free, and really quite impressive with the experience you get here. I’d recommend starting at the visitor’s center. You’ll need to go through security to enter the building and they will check your bags. You can use strollers here as it’s large enough to allow them and there is an elevator. The cemetery is also large so if you have littles a stroller may be handy.
When you enter the Visitor’s center there is a guest book you can sign if you like. You can also grab an informational sheet here. There are some displays set up on this floor telling the stories of some of those who lost their lives and that are buried in the cemetery.
After browsing through those you head downstairs to the next display area. I was blown away at how wonderfully done this was, especially for it being free.
Make sure to check out the 16 minute video in the theater (with comfy chairs!) it was great, even the kids enjoyed it.
Then as you stroll throughout the displays reading the info there are also a few screens set up with running clips.
I recommend watching the Dwight Eisenhower interview, while we had some idea of the history of D-Day these videos really helped to bring it all to life. After strolling through and reading the displays you’ll head to the back left corner and that will take you outside to the path to the cemetery area.
On the walk you’ll see an overlook area of the Omaha beach, you can also walk down the stairs here to walk along the beach. If your driving however you can walk along the beach at the next stop as well. We did not walk down to the beach here.
There is a large memorial and reflecting pool when you first enter the cemetery area.
In the cemetery you’ll see white crosses lined up as far as your eye can see, a total of 9,387 of them! It’s breathtaking to look at them and see the amount of lives that were sacrificed for the war. If your a Saving Private Ryan buff you’ll find the Niland brothers buried here as well. There is also a wall listing the 1,557 missing soldiers.
From some of the rows you can get a glimpse of the shoreline and the ocean beyond.
Humbling to walk among these thousands of white crosses…
There is a huge memorial and a chapel in this area also. The chapel has a stunning scene on the ceiling. Make sure you stop in to check it out.
This truly is a must visit stop in the Normandy region! From visiting the cemetery to honor those who have gave their lives to the impressive displays and videos in the Visitor’s center it will leave a lasting impression on your trip. I’m so thankful we got to experience it!
Know Before You Go
What: WWII Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial – Colleville-sur-Mer, France
How To Get There: It’s about 6 hours 40 mins from Spangdahlem, and 6 hours 50 mins from Ramstein. GPS addy: Cimetière américain de Normandie, 14710 Colleville-sur-Mer, France
Parking: Parking is free there is a large lot in front of the Visitor’s center and a smaller area to the left, be sure to secure your vehicles and don’t leave any items out that will temp people to break in.
Cost: Free to walk around the cemetery and see the memorial/museum.
Traveling with little kids: You are able to use strollers here, there is an elevator to get down to the memorial/museum area and the pants are wide enough to allow a stroller through.
How long: Plan on at least 1-2 hours here.