On June 6, 1944 – now known as D-Day – Operation Overlord, the long-awaited invasion of Northwest Europe, began with Allied landings on the coast of Normandy. The task was formidable, for the Germans had turned the coastline into an interlinked series of strongpoints, each with guns, pillboxes, barbed wire, land mines, and beach obstacles. Following an extensive bombardment of the assault areas, the Allies launched a simultaneous landing of U.S., British, Canadian and French forces on five separate beaches code named:
Troops from three airborne divisions descended by parachute and glider on the flanks of the invasion area. The American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions were dropped into a zone at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula, and secured their objectives. The British 6th Airborne Division at the eastern end captured key bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River. When the seaborne units began to land about 6:30 AM on June 6, the allied soldiers stormed the beaches against fierce opposition from German gun positions and mined beach obstacles. The soldiers raced across the wide-open beaches swept with machine gun fire, and stormed the gun positions. In fierce hand-to-hand fighting, they fought their way into the towns and hills and then advanced inland.
By the end of the day the 3rd British Division was within three miles of Caen, the 3rd Canadian Division was well established on its intermediate objectives and the 50th Division was only two miles from Bayeux. In the American zone, the 4th Division had established a 4-mile deep penetration inland and was within reach of Ste-Mere-Eglise, where the 82nd had fought throughout the night. The assault forces at "Omaha" beach had met fierce resistance, incurring significant casualties, but here too, beachheads had been established.
It was a magnificent accomplishment; the formidable Atlantic Wall had been successfully breached. By the end of D-Day, the Allies had landed more than 150,000 troops in France by sea and air, 6,000 vehicles including 900 tanks, 600 guns and about 4,000 tons of supplies and, astonishingly, had achieved complete surprise in doing it. More soldiers and supplies were pouring ashore to continue the advance on D-Day-plus-one. The victory was a turning point in World War II and led to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Normandy has a 'maritime' climate. The summers are warm and winters are mild. Rain however is a part of the climate all year round, winter seeing more rain than summer. The ongoing rain isn't enough to spoil a vacation most of the time and it does have a benefit, the nature is incredibly lush and green. Winter does see the occasional snow and frost as well, but in general the climate is pretty moderate in winter.
Summers are a little warmer than in southern Britain with up to 8 hours of sunshine per day. Cyclists love the region because it is not nearly as hot as most other parts of France and can be more compared to southern England than inland France. Either way, sunscreen and a hat is necessary even if it doesn't feel as hot as the rest of France, the sun is still beating down with force!
Normandy is easily reachable from Paris, either by car (2 to 3 hours drive) or by train (2 hours from Paris St Lazare station to Caen central station). Alternatively, a ferry across the channel will take you 6 hours from Portsmouth to Ouistreham, the easternmost D-day target, an ideal starting point.
Car rental in Normandy can be arranged through several international chains including Avis, Budget, Eurocar and Hertz. Cars can be picked up in Caen. Driving in France is on the right hand side of the road and all distance and speed measurements are in km.
Bus routes in Normandy with services between Caen and Bayeux, Bayeux and Ouistrem, and Bayeux to Grandcamp. These cover most of the main landing beaches. All the routes are operated by Bus Verts du Calvados, and free timetables can be acquired from the main tourist offices. Telephone 0810 214 214.
Cycling also gives you excellent access to some quieter spots along the peninsula. It is easy to navigate the D-Day Beaches by bike, with a newly developed bike route linking the beaches. This route will eventually be fully signposted. The cycle tourism website Freewheeling France has an excellent guide to cycling the beaches. From the Landing Beaches you can also cycle to Mont St Michel. It is possible to hire bikes throughout Normandy – local tourist offices are a good source of information on the nearest hire outlet.
Local tourist information offices will provide a leaflet (in English) that lists key visitor attractions, and has details of seven route itineraries which are also signposted on the road network.
You can discover the beautiful Normandy region and get information about D-Day and the Battle of Normandy at Normandie Memoire: 
A Tourist Guide to Bessin, Bayeux, D-Day Landings & the Battle of Normandy is available on-line at:  You can also pick up a free copy of this guide at the tourism office in Bayeux.
The 70th anniversary schedule of events is available at: 
Tour the beaches and battlefields, see the various museums throughout the area, and visit the seaside villages and towns.
Independent travel to D-Day Landing Beaches. No doubt taking a tour is the most comprehensive way to see the D-Day sites, however, some people will want to try to see these using public transport. From Bayeux train station, you can catch a bus to some of the D-Day beaches. On the bus website  there is a map of the bus route to the D-Day beaches. Bus No. 70 takes you to Omaha beach, the American cemetery, and to Pointe Du Hoc. Bus No. 74 takes you to Arromanches beach - the location of the Mulberry harbors. According to Wikipedia: "Omaha beach is 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer" and these villages are accessible via the No. 70 bus. Note very carefully from the bus timetable that buses are few and far between, so take the few number of buses into account. Also, buses do not run when there is heavy snow, so check the bus website beforehand during snow season.
Bayeux is an excellent town to stay in. It is easy to get in and out of, and convenient for visiting the Omaha, Gold and Juno beach sectors. It has excellent restaurants and shops with an interesting pedestrian section.
Hotels in Bayeux
Many visitors stay in Caen, the capital of Normandy with its various attractions an excellent shopping.
Hotels in Caen
Hotels in Arromanches-les-Bains
Hotels in Ouistreham