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On one end of a stretch of coastline in Northern France, you’ll find pristine beaches that were immortalized in Monet’s etchings and in Proust’s prose. On the other end, you’ll still find bits of shrapnel, archaic artillery shells, and other tokens of remembrance along the beachfront. This is, of course, Normandy – the site of the D-Day Allied invasions in 1944 that freed France from Nazi German occupation and signaled the beginning of the end of World War II.

While the Normandy of D-Day generally makes people think of grainy photos from the mid-1940s, the region’s beaches and battles sites today are a combination of tourism and remembrance. In honor of the 70th anniversary of the invasions on June 6, we’re sharing some photos of the area’s most beautiful beaches, which still evoke a sense of natural grandeur, and a sense of history. See them here.

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