Day 7 – Mont Saint Michel to Bayeux: After breakfast at the hotel we arrived at the monastery before it opened and were second in line. We got in and were able to get some people free pictures. It really wasn’t as crowded as I had anticipated. It was really big and I enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards we did a little shopping with the crowds that had arrived on the main drag, and ate hamburgers and frites for lunch in our hotel café after checking out. I made sure to take several looks back at the Mont from the shuttle as we left.
After getting gas and more ice for the cooler we headed for Bayeux. We had to purchase gas at stations with an attendant, since our chip card has no pin, but had never had trouble finding one
We had considered stopping at Hambye Abbey, but decided to go directly to Bayeux to make sure there was time to see the Tapestry in case of crowds. There were none, which held true for our entire trip. The audioguide is paced pretty well and the museum is nice. I can’t imagine the hours that went into the creation of the tapestry and the detail is superb. It’s wonderful that it was preserved so well and that we can still enjoy it after so many centuries.
We probably should have visited the cathedral, but we just walked around town for a while and shared fish and chips for dinner at Pourquois Pas, then drove about 15 minutes to the tiny village of Manvieux. We walked to the little church around the corner and saw mist rising from the fields as the sun went down. We stayed for two nights at La Gentilhommiere, a very nice B & B in a family owned farmhouse. Our room was large and the breakfast was served family style.
Day 8 - D Day Memorials: Today was spent touring the beaches, cemeteries and other sites from Arromanches to Utah Beach. We started with Port Winston then saw the movie at the 360 degree theater. I wanted to feel the emotion and have a visual of the events before we toured the sights, rather than just learning about the logistics and strategy of the landings. It definitely was emotional.
We stopped at the Longues-sur-Mer Battery and then visited the American Cemetery. The visitor center exhibits are very informative and we saw the movies that showcase stories of four different men and their experiences in the battle. We took the guided tour of the cemetery and afterwards we walked through the markers pondering the enormity of the sacrifice that had been made for our freedom.
Next we visited the German Cemetery at La Cambe, which has a totally different look and feel than the American, and I wanted to see the difference. It was dark and somber, as opposed to light and heroic, and I was touched by the plaque that read “it is a graveyard for soldiers not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight.”
We planned to visit the Utah Beach museum, but the staff informed us that we wouldn’t have time to do it justice before closing, so we purchased a book in the shop and walked around the grounds and onto the beach. I still don’t know why it’s named after our home state.
We walked around Pointe du Hoc marveling at the bomb craters and finished our day at Omaha Beach just before dark.
It was fairly late, and the restaurants there at the beach were closing, so McDonald’s it was. On their regional menu there was a charolais burger with pepper sauce on a ciabatta bun which we really liked. We returned to our farmhouse after an educational and sobering day.