A not-so-traditional France vacation: All the reasons to visit the historical grounds of Normandy

This will make you reconsider your next getaway

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A view of some memorial artwork at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France (lia Yefimovich/Getty Images).

Earlier this year, the world recognized the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.

As veterans of World War II get older and older, with most of them now in their late 80s and 90s, how will we preserve that legacy and keep their sacrifice alive?

Perhaps it's time to consider forgoing a typical beach vacation, and instead, venturing back in time, to Normandy's historic beaches.

Escape from the hustle and bustle of a traditional Paris vacation

Normandy, you'll find, has a surprisingly rustic charm.

You've seen the movies and watched countless documentaries on the D-Day invasion, but if you wanted to see the area for yourself, it's more than feasible. Make the pilgrimage with your family. Teach your children or grandchildren about these historical grounds where thousands of young men gave their lives for our freedom. Walk the path in the sands where the Allies started the fight to bring freedom to Europe just 75 years ago.

While big cities like Paris demonstrate the romantic ideal of Parisian life, the relaxing, slow-paced motif of Normandy's small towns offer an escape like no other. History buffs and part-time hobbyists both can learn from visiting the shores of Normandy to remember what happened on June 6, 1944.

How do you visit the beaches of Normandy the right way?

Start your visit to Normandy at a few of the many museums around the region.

Visiting D-Day exhibits will put the sobering experience into perspective.

There are plenty of stories, pictures, memorabilia, and installations that show the sacrifice young men made on those shores. When you finally walk Utah and Omaha beach, you'll be able to visualize how far the U.S. soldiers had to crawl and fight their way to survive and reach their objective.

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Tourists visit the Mulberry harbours at the beach at Arromanche in Normandy (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images).

 

The beaches remain undeveloped out of respect and preservation for the thousands that lost their lives.

Stand on the shore and take it all in.

The wide-open beaches give an inspiring and intimidating feeling for how far the Allied troops had to move under constant fire from Axis soldiers entrenched in machine gun nests.

From there, the Normandy American Cemetery is a short walk from the beach, a solemn burial site for those who lost their lives during the start of Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944.

After deciding to make this historical journey, there are a few things to consider.

Where to stay?

To make the most out of your visit, perhaps you should stay in the quaint town of Bayeux, which is only a 25-minute drive to Omaha Beach. It also hosts plenty of bed and breakfasts, restaurants, museums and tour guide services.

Whether you're a history buff or you're just curious to learn more, there's something for everyone in this town.

While English is not the most-spoken language, many locals are reportedly eager and happy to help you find your way, order at a restaurant or visit significant sites.

There are several other countryside towns where you can relax and take in the serene calm, while surrounded by rich history.

The local fare includes traditional seafood dishes of sole, mussels and scallops while the weather makes the land fertile for producing rich and refreshing cider. You'll want some comforting food and crisp hard cider after a long day of exploring and remembering the loss of thousands of young soldiers years ago.

OK, we're going. Any other trip details to consider?

When it comes to packing your bags, remember that Normandy's weather is notoriously fickle. It rains quite a bit, so you'll want to bring a jacket and layer up as it can be chilly in the mornings but warmer during the day.

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Tourists visit the memorial sites at Utah Beach (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images) (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images).

 

If you visit in the spring, the trip will bring longer days and more favorable weather without the bigger summer crowds.

You will need your own transportation to reach the beaches of Normandy, as they are a bit of a drive from the towns, such as Bayeux. Fortunately, there are many affordable car rental services available.

Booking a tour service is likely the best way to learn the most and understand the significance of your visit. Experts can provide information on where exactly these events happened and what took place during the largest air, naval and land operation in history.

Bring your family, some tissues and walk the beaches brave men sacrificed their life on to secure freedom for France, and the world.

Graham Media Group 2019