On June 6th, the 68th anniversary of D-Day, in rare color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE.com features LIFE magazine photographer Frank Scherschel’s photographs. Scherschel captured countless, lesser-known scenes from the run-up to the onslaught and the heady weeks after: American troops training in small English towns; the French countryside, implausibly lush after the spectral landscape of the beachheads; the reception GIs enjoyed en route to the capital; the jubilant liberation of Paris itself.
"All the civilized world loves France and Paris. Americans share this love with a special intimacy born in the kinship of our revolutions, our ideas and our alliances in two great wars." — LIFE on the relationship between the U.S. and its longtime European ally. (Frank Scherschel—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)