September 27, 2018 Mont St. Michel FR

There are two iconic images of France for tourism.  One is the Eiffel Tower and the other is Mont. St. Michel.  Since we were close by and it is off season we decided to head there and cross it off the bucket list.

Before we left the campground in Bayeux Ron had a touching conversation with an English lady.  She came up to Ron and said that she recognized him from yesterday at the American Cemetery.  She told him how moved she was by the sites there and the sacrifice of the young men who came to another continent to help.  I told her that they were honored to do it, and explained to her that the families had the choice of burying them here or having the body transported home for burial.  She teared up and said that she was honored that so many chose to be buried here.  I am bad with tears and did not know what to say, but thanked her for her kind thoughts.

The Garmin had been choosing pretty easy routes on nice wide roads, but decided to test us today by sending us off on small D Roads for the first 30 km, including one that turned out to be closed for construction.  After some wandering around on back roads we came out to a pretty major road and the next thing we knew we were on a nice freeway for the last 60km.

Our first view of Mont St. Michel.

Mont St. Michel is a spectacular site and that is why it is an icon.  We had a pretty good walk to the free shuttle to the island.  The bus was packed, and the initial impression was of a big crowded tourist site, but it won us over.  The site on the outcropping surrounded by mud flats is right out of any movie.  The abby is both beautiful and a marvel of construction.  Expecting something sterile and packaged we came away impressed.

A shot across the Knights Hall which was the dinner place for the Knights.
On the way back we had a nice snack of mussels with some Normandy Cider.  We guessed that it was about a Kilo of mussels.  The coffee style cups are for the cider.

We wanted to cap the night off with some pictures of the Mont at night.  We walked down to the river to the bridge as we thought it would be a nice shot.  Tonight is warm and there is not a breath of wind, and we are basically in a big swamp so the mosquitos were swarming.  We fought them for about 30 minutes waiting for the lights to come on, but the mosquitos won and we headed back to François for the night with no pictures.

Not the shot with the Mont lit up like we wanted, but the mosquitos drove us home.

September 26, 2018 Coleville FR

We are still on the Normandy peninsula basically moving from the area of Utah Beach to Omaha Beach.  We got a late start as we decided to take care of some housekeeping chores in the morning.  After Ton paid some bills and we knocked out a load of laundry we headed out for Omaha Beach.

When we arrived at the center of Omaha Beach it was quite crowded with several bus loads of Americans taking their lunch break al fresco around the memorial.  We poked around for a while and mourned with a fellow Oregonian about the football teams loss on Saturday to Stanford.

Standing on Omaha Beach in front of the Sculpture to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the battle.

Done with Omaha we headed over to the American Cemetery in Coleville.  This cemetery is maintained by the US Battlefield Memorial Commission and is the final resting place for over 9000 soldiers and sailors from the battles around Normandy.  After the war the families of the fallen were given a choice to have the bodies shipped home or buried in place,  so this does not represent all of the Americans killed in the battle.  

The view towards the memorial and reflecting pool.

The visitor center and the grounds are inspiring and a true honor to the young men who are there.  The visitor center has an excellent display about WWII and D-Day.  After you walk thru the visitor center you enter the grave sites, and the location overlooks Omaha Beach and the Atlantic.  The site is immaculate and clearly lovingly taken care of by the French staff.

The grave markers go on forever.

When we completed the tour at the cemetery we headed into Bayeux which is about the only major city that was not leveled during the invasion.  It is also famous for the Bayeux Tapestry which is a famous medieval artwork.  As we entered the city we made a quick stop at a Carrefour Market to re-stuff the refrigerator.  We headed into the city but just missed our opportunity to see the tapestry as the museum was closing.  We took a quick walk to look at the Norman style Cathedral, and then headed back to François for the night.

A gargoyle on the Cathedral at Bayeux.  They are not only an interesting feature but actually serve as the drains for the gutters when it rains.

September 25, 2018 St. Mere-Egliese

Today we covered the most distance we have covered in one day on the trip, about 200 miles.  We got up a little early, and the trip was pretty easy as the roads were frequently 4 lanes wide, and we did not have very many small villages to pass thru.

Our target for the day was Utah Beach from the Normandy invasion in 1944.  Our first stop of our D-Day tour was at the Airborne Museum at St. Mere-Eglise.  St. Mere-Eglise was the initial focus of the 82nd Airborne Division during the invasion.  It is said to be the first town in France to be liberated by Americans during WWII.  The museum itself is well done, focusing on the issues of the airborne forces during the invasion.  It mostly covers the 82nd Airborne, but does also give information about the 101st Airborne.  It is an interesting collection of equipment, weapons, and stories.  One of the most interesting exhibits attempts to give you the feel of doing a night drop from a C-47 transport plane.  It is quite interesting and gets your attention.

A US Sherman tank on Utah beach, this one is painted in the colors of the French LeClerc Division which landed here, and passed thru St. Mere-Eglise.

We also visited the church in town which is famous for the story of one paratrooper John Steel who had the misfortune of getting hung up on the steeple of the church where he was shot in the foot by a German, and played dead for several hours hanging in the air above the center of town.  If you have seen “The Longest Day” movie about D-Day you will probably remember this story as it is featured in the movie.

The church at St. Mere-Eglise, note the replica of the parachutist hanging from the church.

We ended the day at Utah Beach to see the monuments there, and to walk on the beach.  The monuments and displays we saw today were really touching, and shows the deep respect and thanks the French have for the Americans who landed here.

Ron standing on Utah Beach, evaluating the suitability of the beach for an amphibious landing.
Nothing to do with D-day, we saw this horse and rider driving thru the surf.  We have no idea why.

September 27, 2018 Mont St. Michel FR

There are two iconic images of France for tourism.  One is the Eiffel Tower and the other is Mont. St. Michel.  Since we were close by and it is off season we decided to head there and cross it off the bucket list.

Before we left the campground in Bayeux Ron had a touching conversation with an English lady.  She came up to Ron and said that she recognized him from yesterday at the American Cemetery.  She told him how moved she was by the sites there and the sacrifice of the young men who came to another continent to help.  I told her that they were honored to do it, and explained to her that the families had the choice of burying them here or having the body transported home for burial.  She teared up and said that she was honored that so many chose to be buried here.  I am bad with tears and did not know what to say, but thanked her for her kind thoughts.

The Garmin had been choosing pretty easy routes on nice wide roads, but decided to test us today by sending us off on small D Roads for the first 30 km, including one that turned out to be closed for construction.  After some wandering around on back roads we came out to a pretty major road and the next thing we knew we were on a nice freeway for the last 60km.

Our first view of Mont St. Michel.

Mont St. Michel is a spectacular site and that is why it is an icon.  We had a pretty good walk to the free shuttle to the island.  The bus was packed, and the initial impression was of a big crowded tourist site, but it won us over.  The site on the outcropping surrounded by mud flats is right out of any movie.  The abby is both beautiful and a marvel of construction.  Expecting something sterile and packaged we came away impressed.

A shot across the Knights Hall which was the dinner place for the Knights.
On the way back we had a nice snack of mussels with some Normandy Cider.  We guessed that it was about a Kilo of mussels.  The coffee style cups are for the cider.

We wanted to cap the night off with some pictures of the Mont at night.  We walked down to the river to the bridge as we thought it would be a nice shot.  Tonight is warm and there is not a breath of wind, and we are basically in a big swamp so the mosquitos were swarming.  We fought them for about 30 minutes waiting for the lights to come on, but the mosquitos won and we headed back to François for the night with no pictures.

Not the shot with the Mont lit up like we wanted, but the mosquitos drove us home.

September 26, 2018 Coleville FR

We are still on the Normandy peninsula basically moving from the area of Utah Beach to Omaha Beach.  We got a late start as we decided to take care of some housekeeping chores in the morning.  After Ton paid some bills and we knocked out a load of laundry we headed out for Omaha Beach.

When we arrived at the center of Omaha Beach it was quite crowded with several bus loads of Americans taking their lunch break al fresco around the memorial.  We poked around for a while and mourned with a fellow Oregonian about the football teams loss on Saturday to Stanford.

Standing on Omaha Beach in front of the Sculpture to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the battle.

Done with Omaha we headed over to the American Cemetery in Coleville.  This cemetery is maintained by the US Battlefield Memorial Commission and is the final resting place for over 9000 soldiers and sailors from the battles around Normandy.  After the war the families of the fallen were given a choice to have the bodies shipped home or buried in place,  so this does not represent all of the Americans killed in the battle.  

he view towards the memorial and reflecting pool.

The visitor center and the grounds are inspiring and a true honor to the young men who are there.  The visitor center has an excellent display about WWII and D-Day.  After you walk thru the visitor center you enter the grave sites, and the location overlooks Omaha Beach and the Atlantic.  The site is immaculate and clearly lovingly taken care of by the French staff.

The grave markers go on forever.

When we completed the tour at the cemetery we headed into Bayeux which is about the only major city that was not leveled during the invasion.  It is also famous for the Bayeux Tapestry which is a famous medieval artwork.  As we entered the city we made a quick stop at a Carrefour Market to restuff the refrigerator.  We headed into the city but just missed our opportunity to see the tapestry as the museum was closing.  We took a quick walk by the Cathedral to look at the Norman style Cathedral, and then headed back to François for the night.

A gargoyle on the Cathedral at Bayeux.  They are not only an interesting feature but actually serve as the drains for the gutters when it rains.

September 25, 2018 St. Mere-Eglise FR

Today we covered the most distance we have covered in one day on the trip, about 200 miles.  We got up a little early, and the trip was pretty easy as the roads were frequently 4 lanes wide, and we did not have very many small villages to pass thru.

Our target for the day was Utah Beach from the Normandy invasion in 1944.  Our first stop of our D-Day tour was at the Airborne Museum at St. Mere-Eglise.  St. Mere-Eglise was the initial focus of the 82nd Airborne Division during the invasion.  It is said to be the first town in France to be liberated by Americans during WWII.  The museum itself is well done, focusing on the issues of the airborne forces during the invasion.  It mostly covers the 82nd Airborne, but does also give information about the 101st Airborne.  It is an interesting collection of equipment, weapons, and stories.  One of the most interesting exhibits attempts to give you the feel of doing a night drop from a C-47 transport plane.  It gets your attention.

A US Sherman tank on Utah beach, this one is painted in the colors of the French LeClerc Division which landed here, and passed thru St. Mere-Eglise.

We also visited the church in town which is famous for the story of one paratrooper John Steel, who had the misfortune of getting hung up on the steeple of the church where he was shot in the foot by a German, and played dead for several hours hanging in the air above the center of town.  If you have seen “The Longest Day” movie about D-Day you will probably remember this story as it is featured in the movie.

The church at St. Mere-Eglise, note the replica of the parachutest hanging from the church.

We ended the day at Utah Beach to see the monuments there, and to walk on the beach.  The monuments and displays we saw today were really touching, and shows the deep respect and thanks the French have for the Americans who landed here.

Ron standing on Utah Beach, evaluating the suitability of the beach for an amphibious landing.
Nothing to do with D-day, we saw this horse and rider driving thru the surf.  We have no idea why.