… or Normandie
I was privileged to be able to visit Normandy and the memorials from WWII dedicated to U.S. troops there. The trip from Paris was a two hour train ride into Bayeux, which is the small town I decided to stay in.
I went to Pointe du Hoc first, which is a place on the cliffs of the English Channel, where you can see both Utah and Omaha Beaches. The Pointe was where part of the 2nd Ranger Battalion attacked the German troops on D-Day. They scaled the huge cliffs here using grappling hooks and rope ladders, while taking on fire from above. These were the days when how many push-ups you could do actually mattered!
How these guys were not only physically but mentall strong enough to be able to this is amazing to me. The video in the welcome center interviews survivors from D-day, and it’s very moving. The whole day was moving, and I thought a lot about my grandpas who both fought in the war, and also my Army friends who have deployed. It’s also just a beautiful place. The times before the war, this was a place many artists would come to drop an easel and paint the landscape.
I also visited Omaha Beach, up the coast to the east.
The Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer is the most nicely manicured cemetery I have visited. It’s a beautiful setting, again overlooking the English Channel, and the landscaping is kept perfectly. There are over 9,000 American soldiers buried here.
I was surprised that more than anything, there were French people visiting. The people of the region have a true admiration for the amazing efforts of the Americans (and other armies) on D-day and appreciate how it was truly one day that changed their history. Throughout the region, French and American flags are displayed together. I loved this visit. I loved paying tribute to these courageous souls. I also loved seeing the area, for it’s physical beauty. As much as I didn’t want to leave Paris, this was well worth the trip. I recommend everyone visits here.
Next up: Bayeux and northern France + incredible coincidence story!