Big Guns & Gold Beach Tour
Get up close with some of WW2's engineering masterpieces
Full day: > Arromanches > Gold Beach Mulberry Harbour
> Longues-sur-Mer gun batterie > D-Day Wrecks Museum
> Battle of Normandy Museum Bayeux
Big Guns & Gold Beach Tour - Part 1 Arromanches-les-Bains
LOCATION: Musee du Debarquement and Liberators Museums, 14117 Arromanches-les-Bains
This tour starts in the beautiful town of Arromanches where you'll find a whole host of attractions for the family including two superb museums, a golden beach, and remains of the British artificial port - the Mulberry Harbour - and plenty of shops.
Currently undergoing a complete redevelopment and a massive expansion program, the Musee du Debarquement museum is due to be opened to the public in Spring 2023.
The old museum gave visitors an insight into the landings on Gold Beach and the creation of the Mulberry Harbour, the remaining sections of which can be seen from the windows of the museum.
We're looking forward to bringing you some of the first pictures from inside the new museum.
The Liberators is a real hidden gem of a museum and militaria boutique in Normandy.
It's situated just off the main street in the centre of the town of Arromanches, not far from the beachfront and its Mulberry Harbour views.
The friendly owner has curated a wide range of uniforms and objects donated by over 200 veterans themselves and each item has an amazing, unique story to tell. One of our favourite WW2 museums.
APPROX TIME: 3 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: Easy to find in the centre of Arromanches, the Musee du Debarquement is on the beach front overlooking the remains of the Mulberry Harbour. The Liberators Museum is located a 9 Rue Colonel Rene Michel - the road opposite the Tourism Office.
Big Guns & Gold Beach Tour - Part 2 Mulberry Harbour on Gold Beach
LOCATION: Gold Beach, 14117 Arromanches-les-Bains
If the tide is out then you're in luck as you can get up close to a number of remnants from the original Mulberry Harbour artificial port built by the British in the days following the D-Day landings nearly 80 years ago.
The largest section on the beach is a platform extension, and was used to help bring ashore much needed war materials from the docked ships in the harbour.
Exposed at low tide every day, there are also floating pontoons known as beetles which helped to support sections of roadway and allowed allied forces to land vehicles and troops from ships anchored in the deeper waters off the beach. An amazing piece of British engineering and planning - if you can’t capture a port… just build one!
It’s only when you get up close to some of the remains that you realise how large they are.
APPROX. TIME: 45 MINS
DIRECTIONS: Head to the beach front at Arromanches where you see a series of remains on the sand.
Big Guns & Gold Beach Tour - Part 3 Longues-sur-Mer batterie
LOCATION: Longues-sur-Mer gun batterie, Rue de la Mer, 14400 Longues-sur-Mer
The Longues-sur-Mer batterie high on the cliffs to the east of Arromanches-les-Bains needs little introduction as it's one of the most-visited WW2 sites in Normandy.
This is largely thanks to its four huge and accessible casemates of which three retain their original 150mm Naval guns in place. The site is also the location of a huge M262, multi-level observation and fire control bunker - a huge construction which was used for some of the pre-Allied-landing scenes in the Hollywood movie 'The Longest Day'.
This site was nearing completion on D-Day and while the FCP was built, it was still to be connected to the communications which linked the four casemates.
The four casemates are all of the M272 design with a large gun room and two ammunition rooms behind with a protected rear entrance. With a range of 20km, these guns traded blows with Allied ships on June 6, 1944. The gun in the most easterly casemate is reported to have been previously damaged in pre-D-Day bombardments and the casemate is thought to have been destroyed following its capture by British forces in an accidental explosion although there are varying stories to the actual incident.
The three remaining casemates are all accessible - although the ammo rooms have been gated off since 2020 - and this gives the visitor the opportunity to get behind the guns to see them close up. Some are in a better condition than the others as they look to have taken rounds to the shields and have suffered the onset of rust.
As well as the four large casemates and the FCP you can explore ammo stores, anti-aircraft positions, and several defensive Tobruks, including one for a mortar.
APPROX. TIME: 1.5 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: The Longues-sur-Mer batterie is 7km west of Arromanches-les-Bains. It's signposted from the main D514 coast road and stands at the end of the D104 Rue de la Mer. A new car park and visitor centre was completed in 2022 but beware the site gets very busy in summer.
Big Guns & Gold Beach Tour - Part 4 D-Day tank wrecks
LOCATION: Musee des Epaves Sous-Marines du Debarquement, Route de Bayeux, 14520 Port-en-Bessin-Huppain
One of our favourite museums in Normandy, the Musee des Epaves Sous-Marines du Debarquement (Museum of underwater wrecks) near Omaha Beach tells unique stories of the vehicles which didn't make it to the beaches on D-Day.
The museum was created by diver and marine salvage expert Jacques Lemonchois in the 1970's and is still run by his family today.
Outside the museum building you can see a huge variety of vehicles and equipment recovered from the seabed including a rare DD (Duplex Drive) M4 Sherman tank, a Sherman Dozer tank, Stuart light tank, and a US M7 Priest self-propelled gun.
The DD tank was found four miles from Omaha Beach in 27m of water. On the morning of June 6, 1944 at 6.30am, 32 amphibious DD tanks from the 741st Battalion were launched - 27 of them sunk in the rough seas, two make it to the beach, and three others are beached by their LCT whose ramp was jammed.
Inside you can get up close to a German Type G7A torpedo still in its firing tube and read the incredible story of the crew of the M7 Priest outside, including the recovery of documents and personal items stashed under the driver's seat.
APPROX. TIME: 1.5 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: From Longues-sur-Mer turn right on to the D514 at the traffic lights with the school on your right heading towards Port-en-Bessin. After 4.8km you'll reach a roundabout, turn left and follow the road for 600m until you get to a large roundabout with a Fish/Globe sculpture. Take the third exit onto the D6 heading for Bayeux. The museum is on your left after 250m.
Big Guns & Gold Beach Tour - Part 5 Battle of Normandy Museum
LOCATION: Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy, Boulevard Fabian Ware, 14400 Bayeux
A superb museum and a must-visit for anyone in the Bayeux area - but be aware they have a lunchtime closure policy, along with many businesses in the town.
Inside you'll find a large collection of items including vehicles and weapons from US, German, and British sources, along with the stories behind them.
Outside there's a display of armoured vehicles including a rare Churchill 'Crocodile' Flamethrower tank, a Sherman Grizzly, M10 tank destroyer, a Hetzer, and a super-rare German SKC 33 two-piece 105mm-calibre anti-aircraft gun.
The town is perhaps more famous for the incredible cathedral and tapestry - both must-see locations on any trip to Normandy.
APPROX. TIME: 1.5 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: From the D-Day wrecks museum car park turn left onto the D6 and head for Bayeux. After 7km turn right at the lights onto the D613 Bayeux ring road heading west. At the roundabout next to the Stade Henry Jeanne take the fourth exit and continue on the D5 ring road straight over two roundabouts at the retail park. After 600m you'll reach a small roundabout just past the British Cemetery on your right. The museum is on your left.