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France > Normandy > Basse Normandie > D-Day beaches > Arromanches

At ARROMANCHES, 10km northeast of Bayeux, an artificial Mulberry harbour, "Port Winston", protected the landings of 2,500,000 men and 500,000 vehicles during the invasion. Two of these prefab concrete constructions were built in Britain, while "doodlebugs" blitzed overhead; they were then submerged in rivers away from the prying eyes of German aircraft, and finally towed across the Channel at 6kph as the invasion began. The seafront Musée du Débarquement, in Arromanches' main square (Feb & Nov–Dec daily 10am–12.30pm & 1.30–5pm; March & Oct Mon–Sat 9.30am–12.30pm & 1.30–5.30pm, Sun 10am–12.30pm & 1.30–5.30pm; April Mon–Sat 9am–12.30pm & 1.30–6pm, Sun 10am–12.30pm & 1.30–6pm; May Mon–Sat 9am–7pm, Sun 10am–7pm; June–Aug daily 9am–7pm; rest of year 9am–11.30am & 2–5.30pm; Sept Mon–Sat 9am–6pm, Sun 10am–6pm; closed Jan; €6;, recounts the whole story by means of models, machinery and movies. A huge picture window runs the length of the museum, enabling you to look straight out to where the bulky remains of the harbour, whose sheer scale is impossible to appreciate at this distance, make a strange intrusion on the beach and shallow sea bed (the other one, slightly further west on Omaha Beach, was destroyed by a ferocious storm within a few weeks). There are war memorials throughout Arromanches, with Jesus and Mary high up on the cliffs above the invasion site and helicopter trips available to overlook the area.

Nonetheless, Arromanches somehow manages to be quite a cheerful place to stay, with a lively pedestrian street of bars and brasseries, and a long expanse of sand where you can rent windsurfing boards. La Marine at 2 quai Canada (tel,; €55–70; closed mid-Nov to mid-Feb), is a slightly expensive hotel, with an excellent sea-view restaurant serving fishy menus from €16. Across the main square stands the Arromanches, 2 rue du Colonel René Michel (tel; €55–70; closed Jan to mid-Feb, Tues, & Wed in winter), whose restaurant has menus from €13.80 up to €28, and nearby at 5 place du 6-Juin is the cheaper Normandie (tel; €40–55). The spacious three-star municipal campsite is 200m back from the seafront (tel; closed Sept–March).

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