The day did not start out the best. We woke up, couldn’t find a taxi, ended up stealing a taxi from someone, made it to the train station just in time to miss our train. Paid again for train tickets & sat around & waited. Frazzled so forgot to tell my husband happy birthday. For hours.
He turned 30 that day. Oops.
And so began our overnight excursion to Normandy.
We had both wanted to go to Normandy but my husband especially & was very excited that this was how he was going to spend his 30th. Luckily the day turned around & we were in time for our tour bus (& I felt sufficiently guilty for being a terrible wife).
We had signed up for a tour guide to take us, 5 other adults, & a baby on the American tour of Normandy. Tours have a different focus & visit the specific country’s cemetery, so depending on where you’re from you’re seeing the sites that matter most to your history.
Our first stop was Point du Hoc, where U.S. Army Rangers scaled the cliff to push back the Germans. Bomb craters still litter the land, which was not supposed to be hilly. German bunkers are still intact & it allows you to really get a feel of what happened there.
Next was Omaha Beach, where you just stand in awe of how large the beach actually is & how far the troops had to storm.
My husband & I collected some shells & sand that are now in our home as mementos. There is a small memorial but otherwise you get a view of the beach mostly untouched.
The American Cemetery was our last stop & the most emotional.The number of crosses is stunning, especially since most families chose to have their loved ones buried in the U.S. Every few minutes Taps & the Star-Spangled Banner play, which brought me to tears pretty much every single time.
There is a memorial chapel, a small museum, & memorial statue to view but it’s really walking around the cemetery that brings what happened in Normandy into focus. It’s a peaceful setting, with the water visible & everyone in quiet respect.
After our tour we headed back to the Churchill Hotel, in Bayeux. Bayeux is a medieval town that was built up around a cathedral & is most known for housing the Bayeux Tapestry.
That night we had a delicious dinner, I ate the most amazing onion soup ever, & we met a British couple who were obsessed with the American Civil War & would go on vacation to visit battlefields. Certainly interesting!
The next day we had another tour up to Mont St.Michel, which is stunning. It is a rocky island with an abbey built at the very top & the town winding down below it.
We toured the abbey & having read Pillars of the Earth I felt very smart knowing what abbey life was like! The town itself is very much aimed at tourists but imagining life as you’re walking down the winding road is worth it.
After the tour we figured we’d better see the tapestry since that’s all anyone was talking about. I enjoyed it but not nearly as much as our little lunch we had before boarding the train back to Paris:
I felt very French as we stopped in every specialty shop imaginable to get out bread, cheese, chocolate, & their famous cider. We sat outside, leisurely ate the rest of the afternoon away, & then headed back to Paris. I definitely could get used to that life!
It was a nice break to be in the country & slow things down a bit. We saw a lot of sites but we still had some time to relax over food (a common theme in our Paris trip) & were refreshed for the second leg of Paris.
I was pretty much ready to stay there forever but my husband didn’t go for it. I’m currently reading Lunch in Paris which I guess is a good substitute to live vicariously through. And it includes recipes so perhaps I can start to create some more of those leisurely afternoons of eating in our backyard!