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Paratroopers rained down on this Norman village as D-Day operations began in June 1944 to liberate Europe from German occupation. Famously, American soldier John Steele was left dangling a time from the medieval church as his parachute got caught on its tower.

D-Day

The famed tower

Quaint, quiet Sainte-Mère-Eglise became involved in one of the greatest exploits in military history in the night of 5 to 6 June 1944, as D-Day began. American parachutists were being dropped all around the area, and in the village itself.

The German battery at nearby Azeville, the Airborne Museum, a major war museum in the village, and the copy of John Steele and his parachute stuck on the church tower act as important reminders of how peace can sometimes hang by just a thread… As well as considering Sainte-Mère-Eglise’s rousing history, admire its historic buildings, washhouses and fountains, plus the surrounding manors. Enjoy the delights of the rural Cotentin peninsula landscapes and seascapes close by. Nature here remains largely unspoilt. Land and sea give generously, providing high-quality farm produce and seafood. The special atmosphere and light of the local marshes attract walkers and photographers. Sports enthusiasts love horse-riding and sand-yachting along the long, now peaceful expanses of sand nearby, on a strand that, since D-Day, has been known around the world as Utah Beach.

Sites and attractions

Not to be missed