What was an otherwise little-known village of the Cotentin Peninsula suddenly became infamous after it was visited by American troops on June 6th 1944 as part of Operation Overlord – making Sainte-Mere-Eglise one of the first villages to be liberated of the Nazis after four long years of occupation. Sainte-Mere-Eglise, along with Utah Beach, was one of the two airborne landings on D-Day, because of its strategic position between Cherbourg and Paris. Sainte-Mere-Eglise is also where the Airborne Museum is located (14 rue Eisenhower), entirely dedicated to the D-Day paratroopers. It includes authentic artifacts like a DC3 aircraft, insightful information and an entire section devoted to the movie The Longest Day, which depicts a well-known incident involving paratrooper John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. His parachute caught on the spire of the town church, from which he observed the fighting going on below, hanging limply for two hours and pretending to be dead before the Germans took him prisoner.
Sainte-Mere-Eglise is located in the heart of the Marais du Cotentin Natural Regional Park, just 55 kilometers west of Caen. It can be reached by car via route N13. Entry to the Airborne Museum costs €8 for adults and €5 for children; it is open from 10AM to 6PM between October and March, from 9:30AM to 6:30PM between April and September, and from 9AM to 7PM between May and August. It is closed in December and January.