Monday, October 27, 2008

Exploring the Normandy Coast

9-18-08 Bayeux

This is a free day. We take our time getting ready and eating breakfast round the large table with 3 other French couples, not understanding a word they said, but fun anyway.

We head out to the town of Longes Sur Mer to visit the German battery high above the beaches on the cliffs. The four concrete gun buildings were set in a semi circle for the maximum shooting range. This is the only German battery with the guns still intact, one bombed to bits on the ground. Ahead of the 4 guns was a concrete lookout at the edge of the cliff to give the gunners instructions where to fire along Utah and Omaha beaches.

Terry and one of four big German guns still intact

After roaming the battery, we drive to Arromanches, a small village atop the beach cliff overlooking Gold Beach where the British landed. After Gold beach was secured from the Germans, the allies towed in the mulberries to create an artificial harbor, allowing further supplies and men to be brought to land.

We then drove in to the town of Bayeux, with the town walking tour map in hand. As we started the walk, we noticed several good restaurants and decided to eat lunch at a creperie. We had ham, mushroom and cheese stuffed galettes, similar to a buckwheat pancake/crepe, very good. We continued with the walking tour which highlighted the 11th century Bayeux Cathedral. The cathedral was much bigger and more ornate than we anticipated for the town size of Bayeux. The walking tour also passed by the main shopping area, town park, some very old residential areas with wood timbered houses.

The Bayeux Cathedral

Time for an ice cream cone, and as we savour, we decide to go back to the Pointe du Hoc from our BattleBus tour from yesterday. Terry felt rushed only given a half hour to see all the bombed out areas and wanted to see more. We took the scenic coast road through several small villages and very narrow roads, nearly missing corners of homes as you pass by. We walked around the very cold and windy Point du Hoc, Terry took tons of photos and made sure he saw every little nook and cranny of bombed bits of twisted metal and concrete.

Driving back to B&B, we notice that all the small towns look alike. Every home, building, and wall is built with the identical centuries old white stone, and no other decorations of color on the house itself. The color comes from gardens and flowers. The Norman’s are simple farm people who shun physical wealth and are perfectly happy with their spartan lifestyles. In fact, our tour guide Allan explained that when the Germans took over all the beachside homes along Omaha, blowing some up for artillery areas, the Norman’s welcomed it. Seems the beachfront homes were owned by wealthy Parisians as vacation homes.

Photos from today

Exhausted but happy with our days so far, tomorrow will be another long, good day.

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