Image – Copyright Atout France/CDT Calvados
Arromanches, or more specifically, Arromanches-les-Bains, is located in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy) region of north western France. Situated 25 km from Caen, it is located on the coast in the heart of the area where the Normandy landings took place during World War II on D Day, 6 June 1944. With a population of approximately 700 people (known as Arromanchais), Arromanches today is now mainly a tourist town. Positioned along the coastline designated as Gold Beach during the Allied invasion, the town is an important base for visiting the battle sites and war cemeteries that commemorate the Normandy Campaign.
With its stunning coastline, Normandy is easily accessible from the Channel ports and is a popular destination for visitors. Whether you are driving or on foot there are a wealth of historic places to tour, picturesque ports with attractive quayside restaurants and scenic countryside to discover. Local food markets are held every week and Norman cuisine is famous among the many ‘foodies’ who come to enjoy a real taste of the French way of life.
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The history of Arromanches is divided into two: ‘before and after’. Simplistically, ‘before’ is the period of time when the town enjoyed an unremarkable existence as a typical Normandy coastal resort and ‘after’ defines its geographical importance during the war. Originally the town developed when the railway was built which helped to boost the region both for residential and economic reasons. Many good quality houses were built along the sea front and local shops prospered with families from Paris taking their summer vacation in the area.
Arromanches was selected as one of the sites for a Mulberry Harbour (the other being Omaha) which operated as artificial floating ports during the Normandy Landings. Remains of the Mulberry Harbour are still visible with concrete blocks sticking out of the sand and several a few hundred metres from the shore.
Taking a walk along this peaceful stretch of coast and its surroundings, it is difficult to imagine the devastation and loss of life that took place here in the dark days of 1944. At the top of the hill, Cinema Circulaire (Arromanches 360 Cinema) built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D Day, this circular cinema theatre of 9 screens shows a poignant film entitled ‘The Price of Freedom’ which is well worth viewing with archive material from war correspondents describing the fierce battle which ensued at this location. The D Day Landings Museum at Place du 6 Juin has a huge moving exhibit of the Mulberry Harbour and also a short film which gives a fascinating insight into the history of ‘Operation Overlord’. This is a permanent exhibition overlooking the very spot where the construction of the pontoons took place. Beyond the museum along the cliff walk there is a tank on display.
Eglise Saint-Pierre, in Place Gal de Gaulle was built between 1857 and 1870. Dedicated to St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen, it is designed in the Romenesque Revival style and the church windows recall the events of the World War II.
There are facilities for tennis, golf, and sailing at Arromanches which can be arranged via the tourist office or your hotel.
Accommodation & Restaurants
Located at the entrance to Arromanches, Hotel Le Chanteclair is in a unique setting just a 5 minute walk from the D Day beaches. It has a quiet garden and is only 10 km from Bayeux and the Port-en-Bessin golf course.
Hotel La Rosiere is in a peaceful setting, located in a very large landscaped park where guests can relax with a drink on the terrace overlooking the gardens. There is a pétanque pitch and various activities for children.
Hotel de la Marine has traditional Logis de France accommodation with fantastic views of the beach and delightful sunsets over the sea. It has an excellent restaurant and is renowned for its sole méuniere and other local fish dishes. Located near the historic beaches (it is nearly on the sands!), it is a great starting point for touring the area.
Facing the sea with inside and outside tables, Hotel de Normandie has delicious locally sourced seafood including oysters, scallops and shellfish. Fois gras and Coquilles St. Jacques are a speciality and the staple dish Moule Normandie et Frites is wonderful!
Arromanches is easily reachable from Paris – 2 to 3 hours drive – or by ferry across the channel (3 hours from Portsmouth to Ouistreham).
By train Paris St. Lazare station to Caen is approximately 2 hours.
Office de Tourisme
2 rue Marechal Joffe
Tel: 02 31 22 36 45
Fax: 02 31 22 92 06