Caen is very different from Paris. Less hustle and bustle, everyone is really nice. First stop this morning was the laundrette. Easy, cheap and fast. While we waited had a coffee at the coffee shop next door. Asked for a latte and cappuccino- got one black coffee and one topped with sweetened whipped cream.
Caen is a port city in the Normandy region. The Chateau de Caen is across the road from the laundrette and was built by William the Conqeror around 1060 prior to his invasion of England. He also built 2 great abbeys (men's abbey and women's abbey) which gave birth to the city of Caen and was the heart of the "Norman Empire" The chateau was destroyed in the French Revolution and then by the bombing in WWII. The remains of William's original chateau can be seen. The site is well set up with lots of information.
From here we were going to visit the Le Memorial which is about WWII and the 1944 Battle of Normandy. We were told we needed the number 2 bus. No problem, we could see a stop with the number 2. We then decided this was the wrong stop and
we needed to be around the corner. Mm, this bus only ran on Sunday. So a bit further up the street we saw another sign for the number 2 but it was going the wrong way. The stop we needed was on the other side of the Chateau. Someone spoke to a bus driver on another bus for us and the stop we needed was on his route so he took us around to the right stop.
The Le Memorial is fantastic. Great information about the build up to WWII following the end of WWI and the rise of Hitler. It also included the war in the Pacific. Then we reached the Normandy Invasion starting with D-Day. I hadn't realised the invasion was 100 days as you usually only hear about D-Day. Caen was liberated in early July, a month after the D-Day landing. Prior to this over 70% of the city and 2,000 French civilians were killed. The men's abbey was completely destroyed by the bombing. Looking at the footage of the destruction I was glad that Australia's "Tyranny of Distance" has protected us from a lot of this. I know Darwin was bombed but the destruction pales
into insignificance when you look at the destruction here after days and days and more days of bombings.
There was also an excellent display on the Cold War following the end of WWII. They even had panels from the Berlin Wall on display.
Back to town on the bus and Andy managed to get himself a new wallet at one of the market stalls.
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