Sainte-Mere-Èglise is a small town in the Manche region of Normandy, France. The village stands in the middle of the route N13, which made it strategically important during WWII. The Allies wanted to secure Sainte-Mere-Èglise to prevent the Germans from using N13 in any counterattack. It was one of the first towns liberated on D-Day (June 6th, 1944) when the U.S. 82nd Airborne and the U.S. 101st Airborne Divisions landed on Utah and Omaha Beaches, simultaneously while paratroopers dropped from the skies above and landed on Sainte-Mere-Èglise.
Today, tourism in Sainte-Mere-Eglise is primarily based on its historic role in the D-Day invasion. You’ll find many small WWII museums in the town, including a dummy paratrooper hanging from the town’s church spire, which is commemorated to John Steele. John Steele was an American paratrooper on D-Day whose parachute was caught on the spire of the town’s church and had to observe the entire fighting below. He was subsequently captured by a German soldier. The incident was documented in the 1962 film, The Longest Day.
Besides the museum, you’ll find many gift shops, restaurants, and a spring behind the famous town church. This spring is believed to have healing powers and is dedicated to Saint Méen.
Sainte-Mere-Èglise is definitely a worthwhile stop for travelers touring the Manche region of Normandy. It is often one of the last stops for visitors touring the region before they set off for Calvados.