Being the highest point between Omaha and Utah Beaches, the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc was an important location in the Atlantic Wall strategy of defense against the Allies. So on D-Day, it was an equally important target to overtake so that the liberation of France could proceed.
In what can only be described as old-school warfare, the the American Second Ranger Battalion climbed the 100-foot-high cliff to seize the weapons that could take out approaching Allied boats. It was an epic battle, but the Americans ultimately emerged victorious – albeit with significant loss of life.
Today, the cliffside of Pointe du Hoc is the location of a monument to this battle, which was built by the French directly on top of the German bunker that was seized by the Americans. Unlike many of the WWII battle sites that have memorials or museums, this location has remained largely untouched since the battle that occurred here; visitors can still see the scars on the ground and it's easy to see why this was such an important stronghold.
The World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument is about a half-hour from Bayeux on the way to the American Cemetery and Memorial, and should be a stop during any WWII battle sites tour in Normandy. Although the monument does have an inscription, it's best to visit with a tour guide to put the location as well as the battle fought here into context.