the normandy american cemetery and memorial

Sunday, July 2, 2006:  We have breakfast outdoors in the hot sun at the Manoir.  It is actually miserable in the sun, but we don’t want to complain, so we simply sweat profusely as we eat: granola, yogurt with blackberries, boiled eggs, croissants with lemon curd, and coffee.  We try conversing with another couple from the D.C. area, but they don’t seem open to chatting.  We leave them alone to enjoy their meal in peace.

Today, Mike and I leave the boys behind in the Pigeonnier to watch videos while we visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.  It’s situated on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The 172-acre cemetery contains the graves of 9,387 of American military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified (American Battle Monuments Commission: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial).

the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The cemetery sits on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942 (Wikipedia: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial).

The verdant grass juxtaposed against the marble crosses, along with the cemetery’s manicured trees and shrubs, makes for a lovely setting.  It’s incredibly sad to think of all the young men who gave up their lives for the greater good.  The sheer number of crosses is enough to take my breath away.  The setting, high on a hilltop overlooking the English Channel, renders it a perfect resting place for those noble young men who fought hard and won the battle, but lost their lives.

view of the English channel from the the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
view of the English channel from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
me at thethe Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
me at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Mike at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Mike at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

I have packed a bathing suit, sunscreen and beach towel, and at the cemetery I see a lovely beach down below.  I decide on a whim to have Mike leave me at the beach at St. Laurent while he and the boys go to La Grignotiere for Sunday lunch.  I want some time alone because everyone is getting on my nerves and I want some beach time.  Besides, the thought of sitting in that stuffy restaurant doesn’t appeal to me.  I spend about 3 1/2 hours alone on the beach, having a gruyere buerre sandwich and a Coke Light on the sand.  It’s just the break I need.

Back at the Manoir, I go for a three-mile run; it’s a hot and miserable undertaking.

For dinner, we go back to Bayeaux and eat once again at Le Florentin.  We end up here mainly because none of us can agree on anything else.  The waitress gets upset because Mike and I want to share a pizza; she says in a restaurant one person must have one plate.  I protest: “But I can’t eat a whole pizza myself!”  She finally lets Mike order a green salad and we share a delicious pizza with andouille sausage, apples and lots of cheese.  We have glaces for dessert.

me in front of a cathedral
me in front of a cathedral
in the village
in the village

Advertisements

normandy: the caen peace memorial & the d-day landing sites

Saturday, July 1, 2006: We have a wonderful breakfast at Le Manoir served by Sue Roberts and her sister Lizzy: granola with hazelnuts, yogurt with berries, fruit salad with sugared lime, boiled egg, croissants with lemon curd.  We chat with a nice Australian family from Sydney; the boys enjoy their 16-year-old son.  The couple tells us their favorite site in Normandy is the 360 degree film at Arromanches.

Today we explore the Normandy D-Day landing beaches.  We head to the Caen Peace Memorial then some of the D-Day landing sites: Arromanches-les-Bains, The Batterie de Longues, and Omaha Beach.

The film about the invasion is excellent, bringing tears to my eyes.  The museum traces the growth of fascism in Germany.  Fifty million people died in World War II, 27 million of them Russians.

The 360 degree film at Arromanches, which the Aussie family recommended, is fabulous!  The filmmakers juxtaposed current tranquil scenes of the Normandy countryside and villages with actual violent war footage.  It brings home the fact that much death and destruction once occurred in this peaceful land.

After the film, we eat sandwiches and glaces in Arromanches.

The town of Arromanches-les-Bains lies along the stretch of coastline designated as Gold Beach during the D-Day Landings on 6 June 1944; it was one of the beaches used by British troops in the Allied invasion. Arromanches was selected as one of the sites for two Mulberry Harbours built on the Normandy coast, the other one was built further west at Omaha Beach.

Today Arromanches is mainly a tourist town. Situated in a good location for visiting all of the battle sites and War Cemeteries, there is also a museum at Arromanches with information about Operation Overlord and in particular, the Mulberry harbours (Wikipedia: Arromanches-les-Bains).

At Mulberry harbour was a portable temporary harbor developed by the British in World War II to facilitate rapid offloading of cargo onto the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy (Wikipedia: Mulberry Harbour).

Alex and the Caen Peace Memorial
Alex and the Caen Peace Memorial
Normandy battlefields
Normandy battlefields
Normandy landing beaches
Normandy landing beaches
me in Normandy
me in Normandy
Caen Memorial
Caen Memorial
Caen Memorial
Caen Memorial

At Pointe du Hoc, the boys have a good time running in and out of bomb craters and old German bunkers. The boys chalk some graffiti on the walls of a bunker.  The weather is gorgeous, cool and quite breezy.

Bunker
Bunker
The boys make their marks on the German bunkers
The boys make their marks on the German bunkers
Adam... hmmm.
Adam… hmmm.
bunker
bunker
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Adam
Adam
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Normandy beaches
Adam
Adam
Normandy coast
Normandy coast
Normandy
Normandy
Normandy coast
Normandy coast
me and Normandy beaches
me and Normandy beaches
Adam in a bunker
Adam in a bunker
Normandy
Normandy
Normandy
Normandy
Alex: Appropriate T-shirt??
Alex: Appropriate T-shirt??
Normandy coast
Normandy coast

We come across a wedding taking place on the battlefield.

a wedding takes place on the battlefield
a wedding takes place on the battlefield
Mike
Mike
Adam in Normandy
Adam in Normandy
Normandy coast
Normandy coast
Normandy coast
Normandy coast

We then head to Bayeux where we encounter a Medieval festival with Middle Age reenactors.

Street performers in Caen
Street performers in Caen
more street performers
more street performers

Mike and I eat pasta and Alex eats pizza at Le Florentin, which is quite warm and close, despite the cool breeze blowing through the streets.  We get some small glaces in Bayeux too.

We then head back to the Manoir.  Mike and I sit in the main house setting room for a while to read.  The couches are huge and fluffy; we sink right into them.  I’m reading Bee Season by Myla Goldberg, which I’m enjoying.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta