France
Arrondissement de Bayeux

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  • Day18

    Pontorson to Mont st Michel rtn. 21 km

    September 22, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    ...if you haven't yet been to Le Mont Saint Michel. C'est magnifique!

    Quite mind-boggling how they managed to build a whole little town on a piece of granite in the middle of the bay. Monks on top in the abbey, then the knights, then workers and pilgrims on the bottom. And they did a good job because the mont was never conquered during the 100 years war, despite a 30 year siege!

    We wondered how they got all the equipment and materials up here until we came to 'le roue grand' Six prisoners would walk inside this big wheel and supplies got hoisted up by a pulley. I wouldn't have minded a ride up that way...the old stairs got pretty steep near the top 😄.

    We arrived at the abbey just as mass was beginning and were treated to the nuns' angelic singing - wonderful. Intricate architecture and amazing engineering at every turn. Although they're set up to handle 3 million tourists a year with a dyke walkway and bridge, some still make the traditional pilgrim's trek across the flats at low tide.

    Over the years the bay began to silt up from human interference, so they quite recently installed a dam at the mouth of the river. They release the dammed water regularly to help flush the sediments out to sea, thus keeping Le Mont an island!

    Capped the evening with the local Normandie brandy (made from apples) - called Calvados. En Sante!
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  • Day19

    Friday... must be Bayeux

    September 23, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    A little train trip north, putting bicycles on and off with ease, and we're in the cute town of Bayeux near the D-day beaches.

    You know you're in tourist zone when everyone's French accent is as bad as yours. Quite a difference from the little French villages we've been in so far.

    Home of the Bayeux tapestry. Another incredible feat. Almost 70 m long chronicling the battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conqueror became King of England. Daryl remembers learning in school that Harold (who broke his oath to William and crowned himself king) got an arrow in the eye. Sweet justice. Because of that lesson Daryl has never appointed himself King of Englsnd. 👑

    Walk of the town also on the agenda. The cathedral here is amazing. Ok...it's not on a granite island... but it's right up there with Mont St Michel and Chartres. Who knew we'd still be impressed with cathedrals 2-1/2 weeks in?
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  • Day11

    Omaha Beach

    August 6, 2016 in France ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Omaha beach is our pit stop and a perfect starting point for tomorrow as we will take a tour of D Day. We had a picnic on the beach, as the hotel (fortunately for us) restaurant just closed. We had the views you see in movies: miles long sandy beaches, horses riding by and you could hear only the sound of the ocean. Thor was estatic about the ocean and the sand, he just couldn't stop running around. The best of all - sunset was amazing! 😍 What an end to a very colorful day!Read more

  • Day4

    D-Day

    June 16, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 55 °F

    This will probably be my favorite day. We are going to the beaches of Normandy, D-Day memorial and the American cemetary.
    But first, we stop for breakfast. It's McDonalds for convenience sake. We got our first look st the kiosks that will put teenage kids out of work in a few years. The problem is, they reduced the counter help and the ones preparing the food.
    We stopped first at the batteries in Lounges-sur-Mur. The 155mm guns had a range of12 miles and wreaked havoc on ships off of Omaha and Gold beaches. June 6, 1944 was their last day of operation since the British obtained the surrender of the guns the morning of June 7th.
    Next we went to, in my estimation, the most significant place in history, short of of Calvary. The American Cemetary and memorial overlooking Omaha beach. It was such a moving experience to stand on the same soil where so many men made the ultimate sacrifice. I was disappointed to find out that we were not able to go down to Omaha beach itself. I overheard that the steps have been closed off for about two years.
    The memorial itself was great. So many informative videos, timelines, and stories of different people.
    And the cemetery itself made it all worth the trip. I can't express it in words.
    We then headed to the village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. Hours before the main invasion on D-Day, over 13K paratroopers dropped in behind enemy lines. Many were dropped away from their intended drop zones and some of them were in Sainte-Mere-Eglise. German troops were waiting for them and many were killed before they ever hit the ground. One was John Steele, who's parachute was caught on the balusters of the church in the middle of the square. He hung there for several hours pretending to be dead. The church has a mannequin hanging from a parachute to assimilate what it was like.
    The stained glass in the church pays homage to the events of D-Day and to the paratroopers that helped liberate them from Nazi occupation. One of the windows shows Mary surrounded by paratroopers.
    The town itself is more commercialized than what we have seen so far. Lots of little shops selling military memorabilia.
    For lunch, I went into a patisserie and bought a baggett and butter and washed it down with
    water. Kroger's deli doesn't have anything on this place.
    Our last stop of the day was at Pointe du Hoc. A German battery built on high cliffs south of Omaha beach. It is most impressive because it has been more preserved than other sites. The craters from bombs dropped by planes and shells from battleships are deep and to numerous to count. You can tell where some of the heavily fortified bunkers had direct hits and huge blocks of concrete weighing tons were strewn about. It just happened that the battleship USS Texas participated in that attack. The USS Texas currently sits in a Houston ship channel next to the San Jacinto monument, which we visited with the kids and my sister several years ago.
    We had dinner in Bayeux again. I had a pizza. I'm getting better at ordering in French. It is here I am reminded of Europe's aversion to ice. I just don't get it.
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  • Day4

    Normandy

    June 16, 2018 in France ⋅ ☁️ 64 °F

    We had breakfast at McDonald’s today. As sad as that sounds, it was interesting to see America’s version vs France’s. They really don’t like ice here. They think it’s a rip off because you get less drink, but we also have bigger cups and free refills. So I’ll let you decide which deal is better.

    We headed to Normandy which was a short drive from the hotel. We went through the Bunkers, saw the mortar holes, and went to the memorial and cemetery. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn the depth of what happened there in school, so it was harder for me to grasp the insanity of it all than for my family. It was a great experience however to be able to see where such an important part of history took place.

    Afterwards, we went to Sainte-Mère-Église (that’s French for “the church where this guy named John Steele’s parachute caught on a spire and he had to hang there for two hours playing dead so the Germans wouldn’t shoot him”) and did touristy things and ate a light snack. That snack was a waffle topped with whipped cream, chocolate, and ice cream. Their whipped cream is called chantilly and is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Cool Whip could never.

    Now we’re eating dinner at another place on Main St. in Bayeux. I had spaghetti. It was pretty good but the diabetes waffle filled me up so I didn’t eat much. We’re going to bed early tonight because we’ll be leaving early in the morning for La Mont Ste Michele.
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  • Day430

    Day 431: Normandy & Bayeux

    April 21, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    More driving today! First stop was at the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, which are all along the coast of northern France. Although there's several of them, we stopped at Omaha Beach which was the most notorious - the one featured in the opening of Saving Private Ryan (though that was filmed in Ireland). There's a couple of nice memorials, but otherwise not much to see. Plenty of Americans around though, and lots of American flags too.

    Next stop was the town of Bayeux just nearby, home to the eponymous Bayeux Tapestry. This is the world's most famous tapestry, which ironically enough isn't a tapestry at all - it's an embroidery. It tells the full story of William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066, from the death of Edward the Confessor, right through the Battle of Hastings and William's eventual crowning. It's a fantastic source for medieval historians since it was done basically straight after the battle. Very artistic too, though you have to remember it is a piece of Norman propaganda and may not tell the full story! Interesting to see that Mont Saint MIchel makes an appearance as well!

    The whole thing is actually huge - it's only 50cm or so tall, but it runs for about 70 metres in length and takes about 20 minutes to see fully. You get an audio guide and walk slowly alongside it, listening to the commentary which was very well done. I quite enjoyed it!

    Since it was a warm sunny day and Schnitzel obviously couldn't come in the museum with us, we did it turn about so I had lunch while Shandos visited, and then vice-versa. Apparently we sat in almost exactly the same spot without realising! Schnitzel must've been very confused.

    Back in the car, where we drove a couple of hours east along the coastline to the city of Le Havre. This is a World Heritage town but one with a twist - it's listed for post-war urban architecture which is quite unusual. Will be checking that out tomorrow, but for tonight it's staying in and getting comfortable in another bachelor pad apartment!
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  • Day4

    Bayeux, France

    June 16, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 54 °F

    Enjoyed our stay in Dodeldorf, Germany. We picked up Adam at the airbase and began the 7 hour trip to the coasts of northern France. Belgium is a beautiful country with every turn in the road were new vistas of forest and farmlands.
    We had our first "Serendipity". We stopped into the town to see a church and a 15 th century Chateau de Mesnieres en Bray. Very beautiful. It was not open to the public.
    We arrived in Bayeux, in the Normandy region.
    We went into the city to eat and then went to bed. Really tired.
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  • Day174

    American Cemetery

    April 19, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 52 °F

    The grounds are beautiful. I thought that it was a good use of our tax dollars, if our tax dollars are supporting the American Battle Monuments Commission.

    The were several French school groups at the cemetery. Good to see the French are teaching history in their schools.

  • Day64

    D-day beaches

    September 5, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Snapshot
    Where - Pegasus Bridge and Normandy beaches
    Weather - fine

    This was Brad's day, visiting the war related sites he has read, and watched movies and documentaries about. First we visited Pegasus Bridge where British glider bourne troops were the first troops to see action on D-day and they had to capture the bridges crossing the Orne River and hold them intact so that the allies coming from the beaches could cross. It was an incredible feat of flying in WWII as troops landed pnly 50m from the bridge and captured in in a matter of minutes. A replacement bridge now crosses the river and the original forms part of the museum outlining the events that occurred in that area. The original was too narrow to cope with modern day traffic, but the replacement looks much the same.

    From there we headed to Point du Hoc which was an area overlooking Omaha and Utah beaches and was occupied by the Germans with large guns. The job of the American Rangers was to capture and disable the guns so that the American troops could land on the beaches without being fired upon (D-day, June 6, 1944). After heavy fighting and the Rangers had to scale the cliffs only to find the large guns they thought were there were actually tree trunks as the Germans had stored the guns as they were afraid they may have been destroyed by the shelling that was happening. As it turned out, the Rangers found the store of guns and managed to disable them by putting thermite grenades in that melted the firing breech. (See, look at how much I have learned about D-day)

    After some lunch overlooking Omaha beach, we went to the American War Cemetery - over 9000 graves of the American soldiers killed during the battle for Normandy. It is located above Omaha beach and all the headstones are arranged in perfectly straight lines , regardless of which direction you look at them. Beautifully maintained.

    We also visited the Airborne Museum which was to do with the 82nd and 101st airborne which landed inland of Utah and Omaha Beaches in the early hours of D-day. One of the paratroopers was entangled on the church tower and was lucky not to be killed by the Germans. They stll have an effigy of him hanging from the church tower in the town of Sainte-Marie-Eglise where the museum is. We did visit another museum, but frankly I have just about exhausted the amount of information I can take in about war and battles etc. that I cannot even remember what it was about.

    These activities were done over 2 days - next we move away from the battlefields and look at some things I am more interested in - next post.
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  • Day35

    Sch.... Tag

    September 10, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Natürlich nicht so ganz, aufgrund Fehleistellungen beim Navi bin ich heute ein paar Irrwege gefahren. 😎😁Aber es hat sich alles in Wohlgefallen aufgelöst.....
    Jetzt steh ich am Meer in der Normandie (ein tragischer Ort) und werde mal sehen wie lang ich bleibe.... ✌️👌🤔

You might also know this place by the following names:

Arrondissement de Bayeux

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