Blogs from Arromanches-les-Bains, Lower Normandy, France, Europe - page 2


Normandy Sites Monday was a travel day from Brugges to Brussels via train; Transfering in Brussels to a high speed train back to the Train Station at Charles De Gaul airport (Paris). We picked up a rental car there and headed to Normandy in Northern France. One of the first things I noticed when we arrived in Bayeux - the town in which we stayed - was the number of American and Brittish tourists. That makes sense, I guess, given the historical nature of this area. Many of the key sights we were here in Normandy were related to the World War II D-Day assault on the beaches in this region. The French towns here really do a great job catering to the English speaking tourist. And you really get the sense that the people here ... read more
German Artillery Position
WWII American Cemetary
Marker of an unknown soldier

I shake you warmly by the hand. So, we are in the absolutely beautiful country of France, and I do emphasize beautiful. Sadly, pictures are not uploaded, but someday they will be. Hold on to hope. Wednesday, July 13. Rainy and cold. We drove 4 hours to a campground outside Paris with free internet. Thursday, July 14. Bastille Day (Independence Day) in France. We walked 5 minutes to the train station and went off to Paris. Our first stop was the Louvre, which was free that day. We waited in line for 10 minutes, went first to the Mona Lisa, and looked around for a while. We got to see sarcophaguses, sphinxes, and moat. We came out at 12:15 and sadly missed a military parade that happened just outside (we heard the planes). We headed for ... read more

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Arromanches-les-Bains October 6th 2009

Battlefields and cemeteries; whether in Normandy, Gettysburg, Washington DC or anywhere tug at the heart. It is overwhelming to look at the thousands of Crosses and Stars of Davids and think what these brave soldiers went through. The US / Canadian Cemetery is fittingly, immaculately kept. We were given a rose to place on the grave marker of our own choice. The museums were so informative. The signage was in French and English. One light note - we got the word at breakfast on the boat; that the itinerary would be tight to get through the Museum at Fort Winston properly and still have lunch. Ever resourceful, Wes, grabbed baguettes, cold cuts and cheeses from the breakfast buffet aboard the River Baroness; wrapped them in a linen napkin (which we returned later) and packed our lunch. ... read more
Where Poppies Grow
Wes and Joanne Omaha Beach
Crosses and Stars of Davids Row on Row

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Arromanches-les-Bains April 14th 2009

Drove 3 hours through the Normandy countryside to visit some of the D-Day Beaches. First stop at Arromanches-les-Bains, the western-most point of GOLD beach, and the site of Port Winston. This is where the first artificial harbour was set up on June 6, with 17 old ships, and 115 Mulberries (football field size concrete blocks) towed across the channel and sunk. Then on to Longues-sur-Mer, where remains an intact German batterry of 4 150mm guns, with a range of 20km. The observation post was set 300m in front on the cliffs. These guns bombarded both the landing fleet and GOLD & OMAHA beaches. Next to Colleville-sur-Mer, and the largest American war cemetery. Overlooking OMAHA beach, some 9,000 Americans are buried there, marked by white marble crosses or Jewish stars. A sobering sight and memorial to the ... read more

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Arromanches-les-Bains January 18th 2009

This morning I drove from seaside village of Cabourg, France, to the Beaches of Normandy and the American Cemetery. I arrived around noon to find the area pretty much deserted. Once again, this is the off season and there are precious view visitors in these parts. The weather was very pleasant as it was around 50' and a calm breeze blew off the ocean. The water was actually much warmer than I expected. Had I brought a swim suit.....well, maybe not. Walking down to the beach and seeing all the German strongholds, pillboxes, and gun turrets gives one the feeling that this was no ordinary undertaking by the American, the Canadian, and the English forces. This had to be a pure hell for these guys. The beach is wide open to any fire. Once you get ... read more
From waters edge
Omaha Beach
Over the water

The French don’t have the reputation for being the most open and friendly race in the world so you can imagine my shock the first time I received a random 'Bonjour' walking around in France. Admittedly my previous experience on French soil was a vist to Paris when I was 20 and probably not the most culturally aware, however take my advice - get the hell out of the capital and wander around the villages of Normandy to see the real France and real French. Operation Invade Normandy was hatched by Bruce as a research trip to visit the little village of Brix the birthplace of the name Bruce. This of course meant that Bruce got to organise the transport, accommodation and itinerary and myself and his friend Mike from Cambridge got to turn up. Meeting ... read more
Crossing the Channel
Bayeaux Cathedral

We left Bagnoles by 08:00, surprisingly everyone was ready. We stopped for breakfast around 9, just stopped in a village on the road. Grabbed some croisants, then went to a bar to get some coffee. We tried to take the backroads up to the coast, but we eventually ended up on the super highway. After a few detours through the outskirts of Caen and near St. Mere Eglise (didn't make it all the way there), we found our way to Ponte du Hoc by 11:30. Ponte du Hoc was a strategic location for the main artillery protecting both utah and omaha beaches. It juts out into the ocean, halfway between both beaches (each are a few km away). It's a vertical cliff down to the ocean, which made it easy to defend and an ideal position ... read more
Gun emplacement at pont du hoc
American Cemetary

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Arromanches-les-Bains August 17th 2007

We set off for Normandy in order to see le Mémorial de Caen, a museum that takes you from WWI through WWII, the Cold War, and today. It's meant to show how things got out of hand and it emphasizes peace as a means of understanding and preventing further conflicts. It was probably the most interesting museum I've ever been to - I would highly recommend it! Lower Normandy is beautiful - it's very rural and green and quaint, but our goal wasn't to see the countryside. We were there to see all of the beaches from the D-Day landings. Over two days, we explored the coastline and saw them all: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword, and Juno. The beaches aren't nice stretches of sand, but instead, there's very little sand, and at high tide, there is ... read more
Pegasus Bridge
the first building freed in the invasion (they are very proud to cater to the English-speaking tourists!)
posing with a tank in bénouville

I woke up this morning feeling quite bright, despite having a couple of drinks last night in the Marie Celeste pub in Arromanches. Now first thing first ablutions, I was straight down to the shower block to freshen up before the day’s adventures. To day we were going to head to Port en Bessin for Breakfast, then along the coast visiting the coastal towns and villages as we went. When I got to Port en Bessin there was a large market which took up a full street, after we looked around the market I went for breakfast at a café which was an experience because I was not offered a menu so I couldn’t just point to something in the menu, I had to talk to a lady who didn’t speak any English. Ordering coffee ... read more
World Peace Statue
Long Tom
Tank Commander Gulliver

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Arromanches-les-Bains September 17th 2006

As I approached Arromanches les Bains my first sight was the 360-degree cinema which was on top of the hill overlooking Arromanches and gold beach as it was named at the time of the D-Day landings on the 6th June 1944. I'd visited the cinema a few years earlier so I decided not to waste the lovely weather but continue into the town center. I rode down to the car park by the museum and pulled up at the barrier where the attendant said something to me and once again I didn't understand a word until I told him I was English. He then explained it was free parking for bikes providing I parked in the areas painted yellow. These areas weren't specific areas bike parking spaces just areas which were too small for a car ... read more
My Home for the next 3 nights

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