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Visiting Normandy 70 Years After D-Day

History has certainly left its mark throughout the Normandy region of France and its surrounding landscapes, dotted with sturdy castles and soaring cathedrals. Throughout 2014, all eyes will be on the region’s once-bloodied beaches and battlefields, as June 6th marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when 150,000 Allied troops landed along the 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline to liberate Western Europe from the occupation of Nazi Germany. Visitors from around the world are expected to travel to Normandy this year in order to pay their respects and learn more about the region’s pivotal role in European history. Auto Europe offers great rates on car rentals in France; an addition to your trip that will undoubtedly add accessibility and convenience to what will surely be the vacation of a lifetime.

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American Troops 1944

The Beaches

Today, each of Normandy’s five landing beaches; Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, are once again havens of peace, places where couples stroll and children frolic in the waves. In addition to the numerous museums and riveting exhibitions, depicting the incidents that took place during the summer of ‘44, these beaches are also places of pilgrimage for a diminishing number of veterans, who return to recall the instrumental role they played in victory, and to remember their fallen comrades. In early June, the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach will host the opening ceremony for the 70th anniversary proceedings, which will pay tribute to the thousands of soldiers who gave their lives. Although the region has commemorated this moment in time for the past 70 years, this anniversary may be one of the last when Americans who represent the “living memory” will be present.

The Battlefields

All too often, individuals rush their time in Normandy, only glancing at the battlefields as they drive past, hurriedly stopping at nearby monuments to snap a quick picture and then continuing on. But this particular anniversary calls for visitors to slow down and examine these sites in closer detail, as the cornfields, walled farms, bridges and crossroads come alive in front of them, allowing for quiet contemplation of the actions that took place nearly seven decades ago. Whether following the route of a family member, or simply looking to get a better understanding of the invasion, a Normandy battlefield visit will be one you won’t soon forget.

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

The Benefits

History buffs and veterans aren’t the only travelers who will be able to appreciate a trip to Normandy this year. There are four main objectives surrounding memorial tourism, making it a worthwhile experience for all ages. Curators from the various historical sites throughout Normandy, structure thought-provoking events geared towards helping visitors bear witness to significant happenings of the past, while putting these profound occurrences into perspective for all audiences. These events provide a more holistic understanding of D-Day, and encourage reflection for all generations, resulting in an overall enriching experience for the entire family. Beginning in May, more than 60 events will take place throughout Normandy, including re-enactments, parades, fireworks displays and memorial services.

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Monet’s Lilly Pond

The Beauty

Some may find it hard to believe that a region that was once marked by tragedy inversely inspired some of the most profound works of Impressionist art the world has ever seen. Nestled along the right bank of the Seine River, Giverny has been immortalized through the works of visionary painter Claude Monet, and travelers are able to visit the home of the Master of Impressionism, which is still alive with vibrant color 88 years after Monet’s death. A visit to Giverny during the month of June, when Monet’s garden is in full bloom with delicate purple blossoms, will compliment your trip immensely. Pause for a moment as the sun appears behind the hill, enlightening a soft mist that is lingering over the painter’s beloved pond. The garden is quiet and peaceful, the birds are singing their praises of the day, and the light twinkles with magic on the surface of the water; creating a serene ending to your life-changing adventure.

Renting a Car in France with Auto Europe

Auto Europe provides the best all-inclusive rates for car rentals in the Normand region of France. If you’re in the process of planning a trip around the 70th anniversary of D-Day, contact one of our award-winning travel experts toll-free at 1-888-223-5555 to reserve your rental car today. Choose to pick up your rental car in Rouen, Bayeux, or Caen. Reservations for Normandy car rentals can also be made online using our secure, three-step booking engine!

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