Wednesday-Sunday May 4-8, 2016
Today's agenda was to visit multiple sights along the D-Day Beaches. We started by heading to Arromanches, ground zero for D-Day invasion before we would make our way toward Omaha Beach. In route, Brooklyn puked up her breakfast. We were halfway there. We changed her into the spare clothes we keep in the car and decided to continue on our day.
WWII Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Joe and Jackie 33 weeks pregnant with baby boy at the WWII Normandy American Cemetery
WWII Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial with Omaha Beach & English Channel beyond
It was hard to imagine the scene of this site on June 6, 1944. German machine guns were firing 1,200 rounds a minute. The beach was littered with "Czech hedgehogs" (rusted metal objects with several legs to prevent boat landings on the beach). Many soldiers died by drowning after being wounded existing the Higgins boats.
Friday May 6
Today's agenda was to visit Mont St-Michel. We chose to go here in the middle of our weekend since it was our hardest drive day since it was an 1.5 hour drive southwest (besides the 6-7 hours on Wednesday and Sunday home). The high tide today was at 7:30am & again at 19:53pm but still under 12.85m so access was not supposed to be covered at all. The tides here rise above 50 feet, the largest and most dangerous in all of Europe. The surf speeds 8 miles in and out with each tide cycle. Quicksand here is a peril.
It is about a mile long walk to Mont St-Michel.
There are shuttle buses running but we wanted to enjoy the view in and then shuttle back when Brooklyn would be likely loosing it ready for her afternoon nap. A new dam across the Couesnon River was built in 2010.
Bridge to Mont St-Michel
Mont St-Michel Abbey closeup
Jackie 33 weeks pregnant with baby boy at Mont St-Michel
Mont St-Michel from the new bridge
Another family selfie before entering Mont St-Michel island
Mont St-Michel fortified island shoreline
Boat on mudflats shore 4 hours after high tide
Now that is a medieval entrance to Mont St-Michel
Walking up the old medieval street at Mont St-Michel
We passed Restaurant la Mere Poulard, the original place for quick and tasty omelets but at high prices.
We were so glad we did. While we waited for our food, a line of people waiting for tables grew and the streets around became more and more crowded as well as other restaurant locales.
After lunch, we walked off the main street to walk along the ramparts with view of the mudflats.
Mont St-Michel abbey from the medieval town
Mont St-Michel fortifications and surrounding tidal mudflats
You could do guided walks along the tidal mudflats surrounding Mont St-Michel
Lots of stairs to climb at Mont St-Michel
The Mont St-Michel Abbey has been an important pilgrimage center since the year 708, when the bishop of Avranches (St. Aubert) heard the voice of Archangel Michael saying, "Build here and build high." From 966 until 2001, it was a Benedictine abbey and now a new order of monks from Paris have taken over.
Love the gargoyle downspouts of Mont St-Michel abbey
Mont St-Michel water spicket
Mont St-Michel door
Love these old building connections over medieval stairs and alleyways
Mont St-Michel abbey steeple with a gilded statue of St Michael the Archangel
Mont St-Michel abbey
A series of photos of the growth in model form of the Mont St-Michel abbey & town
A view back down toward shore, the bridge and entry into town of Mont St-Michel
A view north of guided walks in the tidal mudflats surrounding Mont St-Michel
Brooklyn and Jackie walking around the Mont St-Michel abbey terrace
Brooklyn cheesing on a step on the west terrace of the Mont St-Michel abbey, 19 months old
Mont St-Michel abbey entrance on west terrace
In 1776, a fire destroyed the west end of the church, leaving this grand view terrace at 240 feet above sea level.
Mont St-Michel Abbey Church door
Mont St-Michel Abbey cloister
Brooklyn sitting at the Mont St-Michel Abbey cloister
Brooklyn and Jackie at the Mont St-Michel Abbey cloister
Mont St-Michel Abbey cloister door
Mont St-Michel Abbey Refectory is the dining hall for the monks
Mont St-Michel Abbey Guests Hall directly beneath the Refectory for receiving royalty and nobility
Brooklyn running around crazy in the Mont St-Michel Abbey Guests Hall
The view of the mudflats from the Mont St-Michel Abbey Guests Hall
Mont St-Michel Abbey Saint Martin crypt
Round Stone Relief Sculpture of St. Michael depicting the legend of St Michael the Archangel appearing to Bishop Saint Aubert in his dreams for a third time, when he drove his thumb into the bishop's head, leaving a mark that he could not deny.
Mont St-Michel Abbey details
An enormous treadwheel crane which served as a windlass to bring supplies to the prisoners when Mont St-Michel functioned as a prison around 1820. The prisoners would have to walk inside the wheel to rotate it. It is a replica of the pulleys used for hoisting building materials in the Middle Ages
The tidal power was ingeniously harnessed to load, unload, and even transport the stones.
Mont St-Michel Abbey Knights' Hall beneath the cloister used as a work and study room for the monks
One last view of the tidal mudflats. The small black spots of crowds of people wading out on tours
Brooklyn finally fell asleep on the carride back home. We stopped in the cute town of Torigni-sur-Vire to pickup more charcuterie type of a meal for dinner at our airbnb.
Today we continued with more D-Day sites, particularly the Utah Beach sites where the American airborne landed. The Airborne Museum had a slightly earlier opening time and we had more options for lunch in the town of Ste-Mere Eglise than at the Utah Beach Landing Museum so we started our day there, with intentions of ending the day at the Caen Memorial Museum, France's most thorugh WWII musem.
Waco glider in the first building of the Airborne Museum used to land supplies
Douglas C-47 plane that dropped parachutists in the second building of the Airborne Museum with models of soldiers & their uniforms surrounding it with General Eisenhower
Another plane in the Airborne Museum
Brooklyn by a plane propeller at the Airborne Museum
The Day They Came sculpture
In Ste-Mere Eglise, in the center of action for American paratroopers, 1 American dangled from town's church steeple for 2 hours. A parachute has been reinstalled albiet on the wrong steeple corner but more visible from the Airborne Museum
We waited around to eat lunch at Um Monde sans Faim for a burger, fries and pulled pork sandwich.
U.S. Navy Monument at Utah Beach
The Utah Beach Landing Museum was built around the remains of a concrete German bunker nestled in the sand dunes.
Jackie decided that if she had to chose between visiting the Utah Beach Landing Museum and the Caen Memorial Museum, she'd chose Utah since it has more emphasis on the D-Day and less on WWII overall.
Caen Memorial Museum (Le Memorial de Caen) is the most thorough, needs at least 2.5 hours, is more expensive, and has 2 wings "World Before 1945" & "World After 1945". The Utah Beach Landing Museum has better exhibits on D-Day & Battle of Normandy so we opted for that.
Jackie walked Brooklyn around in the stroller for a bit before she drifted off for a nap. She also rocked little baby boy to sleep so she didn't have to deal with his kicking while checking out the exhibits.
LVT-2 Waterfront Buffalo at Utah Beach Landing Museum
We watched the "Victory in the Sand" 12 minute film in the theater.
Utah Beach D-Day exhibit showcasing innovative invasion equipment with DUKW, an amphibious duck vehicle
From within the glassed-in room overlooking the beach, Pointe du Hoc looms to the right over the re-created German trenches
There were videos including testimony from Richard Winters, leader of Easy Company from Band of Brothers in the finale glassed-in room overlooking beach which peers over re-created German trenches.
We left our Airbnb near Bayeux this morning with a planned detour to Etretat, a 2 hour drive away, a perfect stop to stop for a picnic lunch.
As we exited off the main highways around Honfleur, we encountered a lot of curvy roads. As we get to about 10 minutes away from Etretat, Brooklyn pukes all of her breakfast all over herself and carseat. We spent a good while on the side of the road cleaning up and cursing life. What a great start to Mother's Day. Jackie held her guns and said she still wanted to go since they were already to close and have driven out of the way.