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Bird's-eye view of landing craft, barrage balloons, and allied troops landing in Normandy, France on D-Day

Some filming locations that mark the events of D-Day, 80 years ago

Visiting these locations and having the privilege of meeting veterans of the landings were some of the most insightful moments of my career so far.

It’s easy to forget that we owe so much to those who precede us, and as the veterans of WWII diminish in number, the living memory of this seismic event will fade.

Because 2024 marks the 80th anniversary of the D day landings, I wanted to share a little list of places where you can capture the essence of those crucial days, be it for your work or personal interest.

Follow the links in the text for more details on everything mentioned.

Having visited all of these, and many surrounding locations, I can say that should you have a couple of days to devote to retracing the events of June 6 and after is a very interesting experience, and one that will stay with you.

If you’re thinking about making a film that pays homage to the days that helped secure us the freedoms we enjoy today, here are some of the most emblematic places where you can retrace the steps of the liberating troops and the occupying forces.

I hope that you find the guide useful, and should you require assistance with any historical documentary projects we are here to assist, or point you in the direction of useful resources in France or elsewhere in Europe for research or logistical support. 

The landing beaches, harbour and a German defence

The landing beaches were divided by country of landing forces between the UK, USA and Canada.

The UK forces landed at Sword beach in Ouistreham near Caen, and Gold beach (that was a critical harbour for logistics, of which many fragments still remain in place) in Arromanches.

US forces landed at Omaha Beach in Port-en-Bessin and also at Utah beach near Sainte Mere Eglise, (itself the site of an historical landing and battle for US paratroopers) to the south of Cherbourg. Omaha beach was the site of a great ordeal for US troops and the film Saving Private Ryan was set here.

A key battle that required huge bravery from US forces climbing up sheer cliffs was at Pointe du Hoc, located right in the middle of the US landing area. It’s well worth a visit as you will find it quite hard to believe what they must have had to scale.

Canadian forces landed at Juno beach in Courselles sur Mer between the two UK zones.

This well written guide from the US government does a great job of explaining the landing beaches and zones.

Allied Memorial Cemeteries

There are many cemeteries along the Normandy coast and you can read about them in more detail here.

The key UK cemetery is in Bayeux, also the location of the eponymous tapestry, (that itself traces the Norman Invasion of England in 1066), and is the site of the UK forces memorial.

The US memorial and cemetery is a beautiful site overlooking the sea in Colleville sur Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach.

Canada’s main memorial is at Bretteville-sur-Laize and is in a very peaceful location, surrounded by open countryside as it is.

German Miltary Cemetery

We shouldn’t forget that lots of German lives were lost in June 1944 and the German Cemetery in La Cambe is a suitably sombre place.

The Memorial Museum in Caen

Since 1988, this museum has served as a fitting place to better understand both the landings, but also the wider conflict of World War 2 and the German occupation of France.

It’s the very opposite of a stuffy old museum and brings ever more distant events into clear focus.

While you’re in Normandy…

Whilst the events of June 6 are pretty heavy stuff, don’t overlook the fact that Normandy is one of the nicest corners of France.

The town of Caen – the city of William the Conqueror, is also well worth a visit, and a great place to stay ( I should know, I spent a very happy year here as a student!) and the Castle and old town are worth a look.

The Mont Saint Michel is just as good as it looks in the pictures but get there early as it can be as busy as central Paris on a sunny day.

Try the local Cider, and the amazing apply brandy called Calvados (delicious but dangerous) and the local cheese is famous worldwide.

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