Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The Normandy American Cemetery is one of 14 permanent American WWII military cemeteries on foreign soil.  France granted use of this land in perpetuity which sits just above Omaha Beach.  There are five beaches where the allies landed and launched their assaults:  Utah and Omaha by Americans, Gold and Sword beaches by the British and Juno beach by the Canadians.  There are memorials and cemeteries spread all around this area.
The museum has displays explaining the decisions and planning that went into the assault to liberate France and also tells many stories of individual soldiers.  There are several short films.  The museum, monuments, and grounds are so perfectly designed and immaculately maintained.  Gardeners were out blowing every little leaf off the grass. The base of every tree, shrub, and all edging is trimmed to absolute perfection.
                                    Omaha Beach
There are 9387 headstones at this cemetery. 41 are sets of brothers.
There is a circular wall around this monument engraved with the names of all the soldiers whose remains were never found.
Many of the villages in the area fly the allied flags. 
Several houses have metal X’s on them and I wonder if this marks damage from the war.  Also, what is curious, is that all the villages along the stretch of road where the beaches are have not been modernized or spruced up like we have seen all over the rest of France.


We visited the city mainly to see the Bayeux Tapestry.  This embroidered tapestry was hand made by nuns from 1070 to 1080 and was commissioned by the half brother of William the Conqueror to recount all the events leading up to and during the Norman invasion of England in 1066.  The lines were very long to get into the museum but seeing the tapestry was well worth the wait.  We were given audio guides that explained the 50+ scenes on the tapestry which is an astounding 230 feet long.  The tapestry is in a darkened room and no pictures could be taken.
This is the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux, considered to be the finest of all Norman cathedrals.  I would have to say it is the OMG of all the cathedrals and churches I’ve seen.  I saw Notre Dame in Paris years ago and it didn’t impress me as much as this cathedral.  And we also saw the famous cathedral in Seville in April but this one is tops.  It’s really the inside that is so amazing with all the arches and so much detail in the stone work.

Bayeux also has some gardens that are considered a national historic site but by the time we came out of the museum it was pouring rain and we had almost a mile walk back to Tulip. 
Tidbit:  Bayeux suffered very little destruction in WWII because it was liberated by the Allies on the second day after the Normandy landings.  As a result, it has retained many of it’s picturesque old buildings. 

St. Malo and Mont St. Michel

St. Malo has a nice setup for campers.  There’s a very large parking area just for motor homes in town and a free bus comes about every 30 minutes to take campers into the center of town and also for the return trips back to the camper parking lot.  There are no intermediate stops and so the bus is just for campers.
St. Malo is a major ferry port for England and the Jersey Islands.
After St. Malo we made a quick trip to Dinan.  The Aires is right under a huge viaduct (not the bridge in the picture) but the parking spots were so close together that we left again.  But you should see how we are parked right at this moment.  I swear, I want to take a measuring tape outside and I would bet there is not even 12 inches from our RV to the guy who pulled in next to us.  Of course, there is no way to put the slide out. 
Steve and I went to Mont St. Michel in 1996 and so had already seen it in depth.  But we were close enough we thought we’d go again since I didn’t bring a camera on the previous trip.  What a difference 15 years makes.  The parking lot is about 10 times the size of what you see above and very full.  They wanted 12 Euro’s (about $17.50) for camper parking so we turned around and left.  Five miles away was a Carrefour supermarket advertising free RV parking in a huge quiet back lot, plus they had a dump, water, Laundromat, and cheap diesel fuel.  No contest. 
The Tour de France was coming through this morning and the road out of town was going to be closed from 10-1 so we got up early and left.  We’ve been seeing signs in many places warning of road closures for the race.

The Last of Brittany

Cap Frehel is one of the largest moorlands in Europe with pink sandstone cliffs that plunge 230 feet to the sea.
The 17th century granite lighthouse, Tour Vauban, stands next to the newer replacement.  We elected not to pay for the privilege of climbing the 145 steps since it cost just to park here anyway.
It’s interesting that there are no guard rails anywhere and it would be so easy to fall off one of these cliffs.  Little kids are running around and no one seems to be concerned. 
Did you know that town names in Brittany are signed in French and in Gallo, which is a Latin derived language spoken in eastern Brittany?  90 percent of the population want the Breton language and culture to survive.