For our final day in Normandy, we spent a magical morning at Mont St. Michel, and ended with some time at Omaha Beach.
Mont St. Michel is a rocky tidal island in Normandy, and a truly magical place. When the tide comes in, the road connecting Mont St. Michel to the mainland is buried beneath the water at which point it becomes disconnected from the mainland!
While the island has been a strategic point in holding fortifications, it is also well known for the Saint-Michel monastery. You have to climb on top of the island to get to the monastery, which is just massive. You don’t expect something of this size on what is literally an island for half the day. One of my favourite experiences (I tend to say that a lot, but I swear I mean it!)
Omaha Beach was really different from Juno. While there were families and children playing at both Juno and Omaha, Omaha has a lot more physical marks from the war. After climbing up the hill we found some trenches, and being up on the cliff and looking down, it wasn’t hard to picture the terror the soldier’s must have felt before rushing to shore. The cliff is very intimidating, and there is a very clear view from the top.
We made time for the Omaha War Museum, but it was disappointing after having seeing all the care put into the Juno Beach Museum (and run by Canadians).
And with that we returned to Paris for one last night, before catching a flight out in the morning.
Our second day in Normany consisted of spending time in Honfleur, Trouville-sur-Mer, Caen and ending with Juno Beach and the Canadian cemetery. It was a day of mixed emotions.
While I did not enjoy Honfleur in the pitch black the night before, it was a lovely town during the day. Sometime during this trip I picked up a nasty cold, and of course no one spoke English in Normandy. So I wandered to the pharmacy with my friend Kate who spoke passable French, and was given the best pills I’ve ever taken for a cold. One of my greatest regrets is not finding out what I took. Literally the minute I took them my nose cleared and my throat stopped hurting. I could finally stop blowing my nose every minute in the car. Anyways, back to Honfleur.
From Honfleur we drove to Trouville-sur-Mer. I’ve been told that this is the rich seaside town where celebrities purchase their summer homes. Obviously, I will live here one day as well.
It’s hard writing upside down!
And the beach had a great playground we couldn’t resist giving a try!
We didn’t stay here too long, as we had an actual city to go to! In Caen the girls and guys split, and we had a fantastic time. It’s a large, vibrant town with a ton to see! I went to a chapel, an abbey and climbed the castle walls that they have in the center of the town. This was my first real window shopping day as I walked from one side of town to the other. We didn’t have too much time here, as we had to make it to Juno Beach, but the time that was spent here was spent well.
Our last stop of the day was at Juno Beach and the Canadian Cemetery. Juno Beach was were the Canadians landed on D-Day during WWII, and was one of the most successful operations carried out on the day. This part of the day was sobering, to say the least. We stayed until the sun set and we were forced.
The House of the Queen’s Own Riffles of Canada. It was probably the first house in France liberated by seabourne Allied Forces.
The Canadian Cemetary was next to the highway, so I thought it would be loud, but it was very quiet. It was at this point that the reality of what had taken place at Juno and during the war in general really hit me. It was a really sobering experience for me. I was glad the grounds were being taken care off. I had gone to the memorial musuem at Juno earlier in the day, and was happy to see that was also in good care. It isCanadian university students that are running it. The only problem I had with the cemetary was that there were too many graves, but that isn’t something that could have been helped.
After 3 full days in Paris it was time to move on … or in this case, north. At one point in the planning process, it was suggested that we rent a car and drive around Normandy. It took very little convincing to get everyone to agree.
There were 6 of us going, so we needed a mini-van, which we obviously named The Beast.
THE BEAST. Cam and Aidan were our driver and navigator respectively. Matt and Kate took the middle, and Janetta and I squeezed in the back.
Our first stop was Château Gaillard, otherwise known as Richard the Lionheart’s Castle. All that’s left now is in ruins, but it’s very easy to see why he choose this spot to build. It’s at the top of a hill, and you’d be able to see your enemies coming from a mile a way.
Our next stop was the town of Étretat. It’s famous for the Elephant’s Tusk rock formation, which was absolutely one of my favourite parts of this trip. There’s a path you can walk that will take you to the other side of the tusk, and provides great close up shots, as well a view of the town.
Our third stop of the day was at Fécamp, a very cute beach town, with a wonderful beach, boardwalk and waterfall. What isn’t to love!
From here we drove to Honfleur in the pitch black. The problem with country roads is that there are no lights. What should have taken no time at all took 2 hours to finally find our accommodation. Thank god for Cam and his cool head, as we were forced to turn back in the dark on the side of a hill, where we almost got stuck. He got us there safely, and I was most thankful not to be the driver.
There was an incident in the shower that night involving a wine bottle and a knife, but that’s all I’ll go into on that topic.