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Since Tasha studied WW II this past year, she was keen to visit Normandy.  We were game, and based on a recommendation of some folks at our Paris hotel, we headed off in our brand new car for Bayeux, Normandy. France.


Our Open Europe Peugeot (we own it -more on this soon from Yannis) . Note the impromptu-ly added roof carrier so the kids don't have to sit on suitcases.


Our timing in Bayeux, allowed us to celebrate Bastille Day, shop at a local market, and check out their church in some nice evening light (Yannis was delighted to have a second opportunity to use the tripod he's lugging around the world).

IMG_1945.jpg Bastille Day fireworks - we sat only 100 feet away and it was pretty cool!

Click here to watch Anika's video of last bits of the fireworks (2.8MB).


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World War II D-Day Sites

We wandered around Pointe du Hoc, which is the peninsula that the American rangers had to capture in order to make Omaha and Utah beaches “safe.” (As if you can call running up any beach with hundreds of soldiers shooting at you with automatic rifles from the bluffs above “safe.”)  It was remarkable how much fortification the Germans built in the short time that they controlled the beach!  Some of it you can still roam around in.  The truly remarkable thing was the 6 – 10 foot deep holes, 20 or 30 feet in diameter that left the grassy landscape on the top of the bluff pockmarked.  I guess I hadn’t thought about what kind of damage continuous air assault and mortar fire would do. 

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Then we drove down off the bluff towards Omaha beach (now its official name).   As we arrived, the tide was high, and the water was lapping the stones below the road.  It was a gorgeous day and the kids begged us to go swimming.  By the time we had had lunch and put on our swimming suits, the water was 200 feet away from the road.  By the time we headed home later that afternoon, it took us 5-10 minutes to walk up the beach to the road!  That is one long beach

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The tide swing really made us wonder – did the allies arrive at high tide or low tide?  If they arrived at high tide, the men would have been sitting ducks in their transport ships.  If they arrived at low tide, they would have faced a long run up the beach – moving ducks, so to speak.  Research indicates that they arrived at high tide, to avoid having to run up a landmined beach!  Seems sensible.


Lastly, we visited the American Cemetery which really brought home the enormity of the losses in this war.

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The cemetery is quite large.  By the time we came through the memorials and monuments and arrived at the row upon row of crosses, with the odd star of David tossed in, it was 6 O'clock, and the bells began to play.  They played the Star Spangled Banner slowly and beautifully.  It brought a tear to my eye. 


Le Mont Saint Michele

The next day, we headed off for our gite (rental house) in Brittany and stopped at le Mont Saint Michele.

ZE2G0240ca.jpg Our first impression - rising majestically from the farmland.

ZE2G0375.jpg This parking lot is ok at high tide, the ones below are not.


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You enter over a draw bridge and heavily fortified gate and then wander through some narrow shop lined streets to get up to the abbey.








ZE2G0280.jpg A "bird's eye view" from the top.




On to our gite in Brittany...


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Last modified: 06/13/08