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Inside the Canadian D-Day Landing Museum on the Beaches of Normandy

Where: France
September 6, 2012 at 12:17 PM | by | ()

Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, Sword...fifty miles of the Normandy coastline in northern France that changed the world forever as the British, Canadian and American armed forces invaded Europe on D-Day: June 6th, 1944.

Driving the entire length of these beaches on our recent stay in Normandy, we find it's a seriously bizarre mix of post-war seaside houses, golden sandy beaches, concrete bunkers and war memorials.

Of all the World War II heritage sites in this historic area, we found the Canadian Juno Beach Centre, just to the west of Courseulles-sur-Mer, the most informative of the lot.

Canada's non-profit museum opened nine years ago on D-Day 2003, and offers a truly fascinating look at the role played by the Canadian troops landing at Juno Beach. Outside you'll find examples of the anti-tank and anti-personnel defenses that thousands of Canadian troops had to overcome, plus an actual WWII bunker that you can enter as part of the Juno Beach Centre's tour. Make sure that you do incorporate the 45-60 minute long outside tour into your visit; it's an absolute highlight and deeply informative.

The completely bilingual museum inside is very well-curated, appealing to all generations, with personal stories interwoven with the wider narrative of WWII and Canada's involvement. While the focus is understandably on Canadian activities, it won't just appeal to Canucks.

They're also hoping, our guide told us, to have part of a network of tunnels (connecting several bunkers with the town of Courseulles) excavated and reopened in 2013.

Pro tip: the restaurant at "La Cremaillerie," a brief walk away in Courseulles, is a real gem for lunch before or after your visit.

[Photos: John Walton/Jaunted]

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