Omaha Beach, with its Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, receives the most visitors looking to learn more about WWII history and pay their respects. But what many don't know is that Utah Beach, the westernmost landing point of the D-Day battle, has its own fantastic museum. If you're planning an overnight stay in Bayeux in order to explore the various WWII sites in Normandy, the Utah Beach D-Day Museum should be right near the top of your list.
Unlike the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which technically lies on U.S. soil, the Utah Beach D-Day Museum is a French endeavor, and as such it carries the official name of Musée du Débarquement Utah Beach – and its motto translates to, “Their Sacrifice, Our Freedom.” However, you can be sure that everything in the museum is titled in English, so no need to worry.
What's most interesting about this museum is that it delves into life in the region under German occupation; in other words, what it was like before the Allies landed and swept through to Paris. Nazis took the region a full four years before D-Day, and the oral histories of the locals who survived are enlightening, to say the least.
Also interesting is the German defenses exhibit, which shows exactly what the Allies were up against along the Normandy coast, and especially here at Utah Beach. It's housed in one of the original bunkers, and gives you the German perspective on the day without defending it.
The museum takes full advantage of its location directly on Utah Beach; guided tours include hour-by-hour presentations of the events of D-Day, and combine them with outdoor excursions onto the beach and even breakfast and lunch options. It's only about 15 minutes further along the coast from the American memorial, and is well worth any visitor's time.