Nice to get to know you, Normandy

Trip Start Jul 23, 2012
1
12
15
Trip End Aug 15, 2012

Flag of France  , Normandy,
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We are so excited to be back in Normandy, this time for four whole days!  Our last trip here three years ago was way too short to see and do all that there is to experience in this area, so we made sure to extend it quite a bit.  After leaving our hotel in Brittany, we headed out to see several World War II D-Day sites in Normandy.  We'd already been to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetary (although it is definitely a trip worth making again and again), but we wanted to see some new sights this time.  We made our first stop the Museum of Debarkment on Utah Beach.  We were fortunate enough to get a guided tour from Eric, a Canadian now living in Normandy.  He was a WWII buff and you could tell how much he loved his job.  Leading us through the museum, he did a fantastic job of weaving stories about specific veterans and events that weren't necessarily on display.  He was building up to a big finish (you could tell) that had the whole group literally in tears by the end.  Utah Beach was actually a great American success story on D-Day, in that there were nowhere near as many casualties as "Bloody Omaha", and the Germans stationed there surrendered without much of a struggle.  The museum is actually built on the grounds of the German bunker that was captured, and part of the building extends into the sand dune.  Phenomenal!  The museum is also home to one of 3 remaining B-26 Marauders ("Dinah Might"), bombers that were used to attack the German bases on D-Day and throughout the war. 
After that spectacular experience, we headed to Saint-Marie du Mont, a small village about 5km away from Utah Beach.  This village was the site of a bloody battle between American paratroopers and German soldiers.  Eric, our guide from the museum, recommended visiting the small church on the town square.  A gun battle erupted in the church during the war, and several slugs are still stuck in the stone walls, and a confessional is riddled with bullet holes.  Intense, to say the least.  Our day rounded out with visits to Pointe du Hoc, where Army Rangers scaled cliffs to reach German bunkers atop-you can actually wander through the 'pillboxes' built into the hill, and survey the damage from bombs that rained down around the bunkers.  Our last stop was Port Winston Artificial Harbor in Arromanches, which was built from American ships to the shore to transport equipment, soldiers, and supplies.  Standing on the beach with children laughing and playing everywhere, you can still see huge chunks of metal jutting out from the water where temporary bridges were, as well as an old machine gun stand.
The day was exhilarating and exhausting, and we drove into the quaint port town of Honfleur to check in to our b&b.  The owner is a British sweetheart named Amanda, and the best part of this place is that THERE IS A COFFEEPOT in our little kitchen area!  Where we can actually make full pots of coffee and drink it all in huge cups!  Ack, I miss my latte stand a little less now.  :)  We wandered around Honfleur last night looking for a light dinner (good luck) and then crashed early after our long day.
Today, we lounged around for a bit, had a fabulous breakfast (vanilla yogurt in the cutest small glass jars is my new fave), and then hit the road again, today for Bayeux.  Bayeux was the first village to be liberated by the American troops, and is virtually untouched by WWII damage.  A museum there houses the famous 'Bayeux Tapestry' from the 11th century, which is a 50 meters long 'cartoon' telling of how William the Conqueror (originally Duke of Normandy) came to be King of England.  The detail in storytelling on this piece of fabric is amazing.  Unfortunately, no pictures allowed.  Google it.
Bayeux also has a fantastic Notre Dame Cathedral that is, in my opinion, more grand than the one in Paris.  Sorry, Quasimodo.  :)  We wandered around the inside and outside for a good long time, admiring the combination of Norman, Gothic, and Baroque architecture that comprise this building.  Apparently it's had a lot of work done after several disasters: fires, towers collapsing.  The usual. 
And now we're back at the b&b, just unwinding.  I'm not feeling too hot today (cold coming on or something?) so I think it'll be a quiet night.  Enjoy the latest pictures!  Tomorrow, we are heading out to do some ciderie and fromagerie tours.  Jealous?  ;)
***As a side note, I noticed as I was uploading pictures today that I take A LOT of pictures of stained glass windows.  For those of you who are like, "Geez, enough with the stained glass already!", I hear you.  But I probably can't/won't stop.  It's a real problem.  Seriously.
Slideshow Report as Spam

Post your own travel photos for friends and family More Pictures

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: