Le Mémorial – Un Musée pour la Paix

Top choice memorial in Caen

Image by HUANG Zheng Shutterstock

For a very insightful and vivid account of the entire war, with special focus on the Battle of Normandy, Le Mémorial is unparalleled – it's one of Europe’s premier WWII museums. A hugely impressive affair, the museum uses film, animation and audio testimony, as well as many original artefacts, to graphically evoke the realities of war, the trials of occupation and the joy of liberation. It is situated 3km northwest of the city centre, reachable by bus 2 from place Courtonne.

Suspended above you as you enter is a life-size model of a Hawker Typhoon. Beyond, you are led chronologically through the collection, culminating with a spellbinding video of the Nuremberg trials. Perhaps oddly, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki get but a footnote. A further gallery examines the world after 1945 and the Cold War. There is also an excellent 19-minute film, The Battle of Normandy, which graphically reveals the destruction of the region. You can also exit the museum to visit a 70m-long German relic: the oppressive interior of General Richter's Underground Bunker.

All signs are in French, English and German. Download the smartphone app before arriving. Audioguides are available in six languages, with different English versions for Yanks and Brits. Note that tickets are valid for 24 hours. Child care is available. There are several restaurants here. See the website for details about tours of the D-Day sites.

By car, follow the signs marked ‘Le Mémorial’ for the museum.