Well folks, if any of you were counting, we have about three more weeks here in France! What??? I know! If I’m being honest with you, I did not think I would make it eight months in a different country. I honestly thought after four months I would be like, “Well that was cool, I’m done!”. Luckily for Wade, I didn’t jump ship. Since we leave in three weeks we thought one last trip to a French town was in order. We both really wanted to visit Normandy, so that’s what we did! We caught a train to Caen and then rented a car to stay in the city Bayeux.
Folks, I honestly knew very little about Normandy. I knew about D-day, of course, I wasn’t that out of touch. I just didn’t know or couldn’t remember a lot of the history. For instance, the city we stayed in, Bayeux, was the first city of battle of Normandy to be liberated. I never knew! As Wade and I went to the different beaches we kept Googling stuff.
Okay, so we got to Bayeux in the late afternoon. We checked into our hotel and then decided to pay Omaha beach a visit. We went at the perfect time. It was later in the evening and only a few people were there. We walked up and down the beach looking at all the monuments. It was so surreal. I just kept thinking, “I’m walking on that same sand that American soldiers fought and some died on.” It was overwhelming to think about all the lives lost. After the beach we headed back to our hotel.
The next morning was Saturday. Folks, we actually had a sort of itinerary for this trip! We never do that! We’re more of the mindset of, “Let's just wing it!” This time we had a plan! I feel like my sister Char would be very proud of us; she loves to plan. Anyway, our plan was to go to Mont-Saint-Michel. Wade has always wanted to go to the city. Folks, this city is awesome! When the tide is high, it’s surrounded by water. It’s basically a small town on an island. The only way to the city is by being shuttled into it on a narrow road. In the 12th century a monastery was build there. After that was built, houses began to pop up.
I loved this place! Being the nerds that Wade and I are, we decided fairly quickly that Saint-Michel was basically Gondor. Gondor guys! Middle earth has nothing on Saint-Michel though. Once we got over the shock of Gondor, we started climbing all the stairs. We made it up to the Monastery and decided to tour it. Folks, this place was awesome! I mean it was way better than the two castles I’ve visited. I know, this monastery beat out castles! You can also walk around the town out on the beach. They have the tide times posted so you won’t be swept up when the tide comes in.
After Saint-Michel, we drove back to Bayeux. There was a British cemetery and a journalist monument up the road from our hotel so we visited there. Now I’m going to admit something, but don’t think I’m an idiot, okay? I honestly didn’t know that the British and Canadian soldiers were involved in D-Day! Like maybe I learned about it years ago, but obviously I forgot. Although I did learn that Utah Beach and Omaha Beach were the beaches that the Americans landed on. There were three other beaches, Juno, Gold, and Sword. These three beaches are where the British and Canadian troops landed. Again, please don’t judge me for my ignorance!
The next day we went to Utah Beach. Fun fact, Utah beach was originally name Oregon, and it was a mission that was added on at the last minute. Once they were there, an unidentified Utahian named it Utah. Sorry Oregon! The beach was awesome! They have a museum and a ton of monuments basically on the beach. The museum was very informative. I honestly learned so much about D-Day and the days that followed at the museum. I got the same overwhelming feeling standing on that beach as well. I thought about the brave soldiers and the undoubtable fear they must have felt.
After the beach, we headed to the American cemetery. As we were driving there, we saw the German cemetery. We decided to stop and walk around this cemetery. The stark contrast of this cemetery compared to the British cemetery was astounding. Instead of white crosses for headstones, there were small stones placed on ground. They had black crosses sporadically spread throughout the cemetery. Everything in this cemetery was solemn and bleak. You could tell that they didn’t want to glorify these soldiers, but they still wanted to give their families some closure. It was an eye opening experience. We finally made it to the American cemetery, and it was a lot bigger than the British and the German cemetery. They have a beautiful monument there. It was such an amazing experience to go and silently walk through and read the names on the crosses. The white crosses stood out among the bright green grass. It was a warm day and the sun was shining. I could tell that this cemetery was sacred. These men died to protect and liberate France. They thought nothing of themselves; they did what they knew to be right. I couldn’t help but be proud to be an American. I was proud of these people for the sacrifices they made.
The next day was our last day. We went to a museum in Bayeux and learned more about Normandy and D-Day and the days after the first landing. I’m not saying I’m an expert on D-Day now, but I feel like I learned a lot! To shake things up a bit, we went to the tapestry museum next. Folks, I know you’re like, what the what, that sounds so boring! It actually was pretty cool! We got to see this tapestry that was from the 11th century. Guys, that’s almost a thousand years old! What?? The tapestry is over two hundred feet long. It was about how William the Bastard(sorry mom, that was really his name!) became William the Conqueror, king of England. After the museum we went to the cathedral. I feel like every town has at least one to two cathedrals. They are awesome, so I don’t really mind! After that, we decided to just drive around and see the countryside. We decided to end our trip the way we began it. We went back to Omaha Beach and walked along the sand. It was a great way to end our trip!
Well folks, I hope you learned some about Normandy. I know I learned a lot. I just feel like an important thing to take away from this is that some Utahan decided Utah beach sounded better than Oregon beach! I would have to agree with him although, I could be a little biased.
Thanks for reading folks!