The 2016 Tour de France kicked off in Normandy on Saturday, July 2. Stage 1 started at Mont-Saint-Michel, a World Heritage Benedictine abbey perched on a rock off the coast, and ended at Utah Beach, one of the key landing sites for Allied troops on June 6, 1944.
The first stage passed through Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where American paratrooper John Steele dangled from a clock tower after his parachute got caught during the invasion, and survived. The town is now home to the Airborne Museum.
After Saturday’s stage, a group of American, British, Canadian, French, and German riders laid white roses in front of Utah Beach’s Peace Monument to commemorate the Allied landings.
Stage 2 on Sunday finished in Cherbourg-En-Cotentin, site of the Battle of Cherbourg.
Mark Cavendish, who won the first leg, was emotional in his interview at the start of the race. “I’m a bit emotional for it, you know. It’s going to be a special, special day tomorrow. What better way to do it than here at Utah, remembering, you know, the soldiers that died in D-Day and all of the people who have died fighting for our freedom in the modern world.”
Take Your Own Tour of Normandy!
The good news is you don’t need to travel by bike to follow along the path where America’s best and brightest fought on D-Day. Our D-Day to the Rhine tour will travel from England, where the Allied Supreme Command planned the D-Day invasion to Normandy, where our brave men fought for our freedom, to Luxemborg, site of the fiercely fought Battle of the Bulge.
D-Day Tour Highlights
- Churchill War Rooms: Descend into the Churchill War Rooms, the underground nerve center for Britain’s war effort—always a highlight
- Southwick House: Visit Southwick House where Eisenhower, Montgomery, Ramsay and staff planned the invasion
- Normandy Beaches: Walk the invasion beaches of Normandy: Omaha, Utah and the American Cemetery (one of the most moving things you will ever do)
- Ste-Mere-Eglise: See the iconic church and steeple at Ste-Mere-Eglise (one of the villages where the American Airborne descended on D-Day) and the guns at Longues-sur-Mer
- Pointe-du-Hoc: Stand where the Rangers scaled the cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc
Bastogne: Learn about Bastogne, the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge