Jun 12, 2014

European Vacation Day 3 - Ste-Mère-Église, Normandy Beaches, and The American Cemetery

The next morning, Wes asked the lovely proprietor of our BandB if we could eat breakfast at 7:30am instead of 8:30 so we could get an early start.  She graciously agreed and than proceeded to serve breakfast promptly at 8:30.  Which worked out great since Doug and I were a bit jet-lagged and it's just possible we weren't exactly ready to go right exactly at 7:30a.m.

The breakfast, however, was worth waiting for and included a delicious croissant, crusty bread, a selection of different cheeses, yogurt, granola, various yummy jams, and heated milk with SCHOvit (similar to Nesquick)

 And then we were off to our first destination: Ste-Mère-Église.
{The town's main claim to fame is that it played a significant part in the World War II Normandy landings because this village stood right in the middle of route N13, which the Germans would have most likely used on any significant counterattack on the troops landing on Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the early morning of 6 June 1944 mixed units of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and U.S. 101st Airborne Divisions occupied the town in Operation Boston, giving it the claim to be one of the first towns liberated in the invasion.}

This is where paratrooper John Steele got caught on the church steeple on the morning of June 6th, 1944. Ste-Mère-Église was the first French town liberated on D-day.  There is a model of John Steele on the roof, and the stained glass in the church (blown out in the war and replaced) depicts the heroic actions of that day. (We had just watched "The Longest Day" before coming so it was neat to see this place in person!)

Wes and Doug
See the white thing hanging off the roof? That's a model of John!

Stained glass with paratroopers
After walking through the church, we went into the Airborne museum across the street.  They had some pretty cool stuff in there.

(I love this lettering!)

Dress made from parachute silk
Next, we drove over to Pointe du Hoc
{Pointe du Hoc is a promontory with a 100 ft (30 m) cliff overlooking the English Channel on the coast of Normandy in northern France. During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete casements and gun pits. On D-Day (6 June 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group assaulted and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.}

This area is still littered with enormous bomb craters.  It's hard to see how large they are in the pictures, but they were pretty impressive.
Bomb crater

The bombed out concrete bunkers are still there

It's too bad more people don't realize how amazing American history is!

 Lunch was a quick stop for Panini's:

 And then on to Omaha Beach.

 Realizing how far our troops had to run in wet clothes, carrying heavy equipment and under extreme enemy fire, was very sobering. Omaha is a VERY big beach.

We didn't spend a lot of time on Omaha Beach because we had one last thing to see.  The American Cemetery:

Hard to describe so I won't even try. I'll just say that I wish every single American could have the opportunity to visit.

That night we went back Bayeux for dinner. While walking around looking for a restaurant, we stopped at a little art gallery and I bought a small piece of pottery. It's very cute and joins my collection of other small pots, mostly from Japan. Maybe one day when we're rich and famous I'll be able to afford a pot bigger than my hand.  Maybe.

I ordered some sort of puff pastry with chicken and apples and mustard seeds on it and, to get you out of your suspense; yes, it was delicious.

Then back to our cozy lodgings for one more night...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks great. Glad you enjoyed it !