Discover the D-Day landing beaches | Hotel Château Saint-Gilles
Situated a few kilometres from the D-Day beaches, Bayeux, capital of the Bessin region, was the first town to be liberated by the Allies in 1944. It is also one of the few towns in Normandy to have been spared the fighting of the Battle of Normandy. This is why it still has a rich architectural and cultural heritage. In the heart of this heritage, discover the Château Saint-Gilles hotel, a haven of peace in the heart of the Normandy countryside.
Beaches with a rich history
On 6 June 1944, the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, bringing the Second World War to an end. Since that day, these beaches, which saw the Allied troops arrive from the sea on the morning of 6 June, have had a strong historical and symbolic importance. In January 2018, France submitted an application to have these five beaches classified as Unesco World Heritage sites.
The Hotel Château Saint Gilles, located only 20 minutes by car from Omaha Beach and Gold Beach, as well as near the D-Day Museum, offers an ideal location to discover the beaches.
Surrounded by steep cliffs and heavily defended, Omaha was the beach where the D-Day fighting was most severe. Unlike the other beaches, the aerial bombardment did little damage to the heavily fortified German positions. To make matters worse, the surf took its toll on the Allied landing craft and only two of the 29 amphibious tanks launched into the sea managed to reach the shore. American infantrymen in the first waves of the attack suffered heavy losses from German machine guns. American General Omar Bradley even considered abandoning the operation. Slowly but surely his men began to cross the beach to the relative safety of the sea wall at the foot of the cliffs and then up the cliffs themselves. They were assisted by a group of Army Rangers who climbed a huge promontory between Omaha and Utah to eliminate artillery hidden in an orchard, and American warships that came dangerously close to shore to fire shells at the German fortifications. By nightfall, the Americans finally secured the beach and the Allied position.
Because of the tides, British troops began to storm Gold, the second of the five D-Day beaches, almost an hour after the fighting had begun at Utah and Omaha. The Germans initially put up strong resistance, but unlike Omaha, an earlier aerial bombardment had destroyed much of their defences. British warships were also very effective. Meanwhile, on the coast, armoured vehicles called 'Funnies' cleared minefields and other obstacles. Within an hour the British had secured several exits from the beach, and from there they pushed rapidly inland. They also captured the fishing village of Arromanches, which a few days later became the site of an artificial harbour used by the Allies to unload supplies.