France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   La Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France
The promontory of sheer rock cliff seemed unassailable, but US Army Rangers scaled it and conquered its defenders in one of the most notable D-Day battles.




Among the most impressive D-Day battle sites is Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument 6.4 km (4 miles) west of Omaha Beach and 15 km (9 miles) northeast of the town of Isigny-sur-Mer (map). This strong point in Hitler's Atlantic Wall on a promontory atop sheer cliffs above crashing waves was looked upon as unassailable, but Ranger Commandos of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions of the US 116th Infantry, commanded by Colonel James E Rudder, scaled the vertical cliff and conquered Pointe du Hoc's defenders in one of the most valiant battles of the war.

Today the battle site atop the promontory is a moonscape of bomb craters, open-air gun emplacements, and heavily fortified concrete casements for 155mm (6-inch) coastal cannons.

View from gun casemate, Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France
View from inside the 155mm cannon casemate aimed at the horizon, Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France

Signs warn of the dangers of falling into the craters or over the cliffs. Be careful!

Observation platforms give you good views of the site.

You can enter some of the better-preserved casements (bunkers) to see their ingenious design and massive construction, and to view their panoramic command of the horizon.

Sheer cliffs (falaise) at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France
The Rangers scaled the sheer cliffs (falaise) of Pointe-du-Hoc with grappling hooks and rope ladders, under enemy fire...

The 155mm cannons had been removed by the German garrison before the invasion and repositioned nearby, but Pointe-du-Hoc remained a highly valuable observation point for them, and the Allies needed to neutralize it. (They also found, and disabled, the 155mm cannons nearby.)

Allow at least 90 minutes or—better—two hours to explore the small museum and to study the many map, signs and diagrams that explain the mighty defenses, the challenges facing the attackers, their ingenuity, strength and courage.

You will do a considerable amount of walking on the site: from the parking lots to the museum (a few monutes), from the museum to the promontory (10 to 15 minutes), and around the promontory on irregular unpaved paths (20 minutes or more).

The observation platforms and casements are reached by stairs only.

Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument
American Battle Monuments Commission
14230 Isigny-sur-Mer (map)
Tel +33 (0)2 31 51 62 00

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Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France

Entrance to the large casement, with the sword-like
Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument on top.

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