Freecamping at Utah Beach, Normandy

Just over a year ago, we  had the privilege of camping at Utah Beach in Normandy. Since today is the 69th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings, I thought I’d share a few photos that never made it onto the blog.

We were there in early March, low-season, so the fog-shrouded beach was deserted. Just us and our imaginations. Mark, Scout, and I wandered over the shore and the dunes, collected seashells, and imagined the bloody chaos of the invasion. As we explored, I kept my eyes open for any long-lost artifacts—bullets or dog tags finally ready to emerge from the sand. Unlikely, I know, but I’m always on the hunt at battlegrounds, no matter how ancient. One day I’ll find something!

Utah Beach has an excellent museum packed with memorabilia, letters, photos, and even a B52 bomber. We spent hours in there. You can keep your grand art museums. The small, subject-focused museums are my favorites.

Our visit was enriched by Steven Ambrose’s Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, which all three of us were devouring at the time. Have you read it? The book follows a now-famous American company of airborne infantry—Easy Company—from boot camp through the end of the war. If you or your older kids want to learn more about the invasion and the subsequent allied march across Europe, this is definitely the book to read. It’s gripping. And once you’ve read the book (no cheating now, book first!), give the excellent Band of Brothers mini-series a go. We inadvertently camped at (in reverse order) nearly every major stop on Easy’s Company’s route from Normandy to the Eagle’s Nest.

Utah Beach

Freecamping—Utah Beach, normandy

Foggy freecamp. We had Utah Beach all to ourselves.


Utah Beach, Normandy, France

Utah Beach, Normandy, France

Utah Beach, Normandy, France, D-Day


Utah Beach, Normandy, France, D-Day

Utah Beach, Normandy, France, D-Day

That’s a hedgehog to Scout’s left. Hundreds were placed near the shore to tear the hulls out of allied landing craft.

Utah Beach Museum, Normandy, France, D-Day

Utah Beach Museum, Normandy, France, D-Day



B52, Uthan Beach Museum, Normandy, France, D-Day

Original B52

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom Medsger June 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Thanks for these photos, Renee,

Takes me back. I spent several days around this time, years ago, when a Parisian friend and I visited his parents in Normandy. His father took us to Omaha Beach. There were no other visitors there that day. What a feeling, what a sense of history. It’s a sacred place.

Thierry and I recently connected again, via LinkedIn. He wants me to come visit!

My best wishes to all of you, including Archie,


2 Patti June 8, 2013 at 12:28 am

Great photos! We were in Paris this past January and we gave serious thought to taking a side trip to Normandy but after much thought we decided it wasn’t the right time – weather, distance, etc.. It is definitely a place I would love to visit though. I am a lover of U.S. history and Normandy has such a story.


3 Rhonda @Laugh-Quotes June 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Looks like a really interesting day. I will admit, I was looking for a cute little hedgehog for a moment, until I read the rest of the sentence. The American cemetery is eerily perfect. Like Patti, we were in Paris last year, but didn’t make the trip to Normandy.


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