For our base to see the beaches of Normandy, we stayed in a little hotel just outside the main city area of Bayeux, France.  The room was really small, but the area was nice; we could see the town of Bayeux and there were cows right behind the hotel, which Rebecca thought was cool.

dsc_0542_1024x680We had breakfast at a little bakery in Bayeux and sat on a bench in the sun with a lovely view.  The lady in the bakery was very nice and spoke enough English that we could order some really good bread.  Roy also ordered five beignets (and she gave him a sixth one free!)  There was a market in the town and we walked through it and bought some strawberries to supplement our breakfast, then headed out toward Omaha Beach.

Our GPS point was the Omaha Beach museum.  This turned out not to be what we were really looking for.  We went it anyway, but frankly it wasn’t really worth the entrance fee.  They did have a lot of memorabilia.  The most interesting thing, I thought, was some letters and articles they had from people who had participated in the landing.  There were almost 160,000 troops in the initial landing on 6 June.  This is approximately half the size of the entire United States Air Force of today!

dsc_0584_1024x680After leaving the museum, we went into Vierville-sur-Mer to “Omaha Beach” itself.  As we drove through the roundabout to park, we saw a sign welcoming a People to People group (unfortunately, we missed Kirsten’s group by just a few days).  We did see a nice little ceremony where they played the national anthems and raised the flags of the nations that participated in the Normany battles.

Walking along the beach was a sobering experience.  Trying to envision those masses of troops landing there, and looking up to the hills they were going to be trying to take from that beach.  It’s simply unimaginable.

dsc_0599_1024x680After leaving the beach, we drove along the coastal road and stopped at an interesting site or two.  One of the places we stopped was German bunker, which has a plaque dedicated to the 467th anti-aircraft battalion, which took out the gun in that bunker.  Another sobering experience, looking down the hill this time toward the beaches.

We then visited the Normandy American Cemetery, which was interesting and beautiful.  You can spend quite a while inside the memorial area, reading all the little stories and testimonials, then take the path to the cemetery, which gives you another overlook of Omaha Beach, before you get to the cemetery and get a view of all the crosses “row on row”.

Later that afternoon, we went back to Bayeux and visited the Bayeux Cathedral (Bayeux Notre Dame Cathedral), as well as the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux to see the Bayeux Tadsc_0697_1024x680pestry.  The tapestry is quite interesting–it’s nearly 1000 years old and over 200 feet long.  It shows the events surrounding the Norman conquest of England in 1066.  You get an audio guide with your entrance fee, that explains all the scenes depicted in the tapestry.

dsc_0712_1024x680Rebecca wanted to go back and walk on the beach, so we drove back to the Normandy Beach area and visited Gold Beach at Arromanches-les-Bains.  Gold Beach was one of the areas used by the British during the Normandy invasion, and it was also the site of a “Mulberry Harbor”–a manmade harbor used to offload cargo onto the beaches during the invasion.  You can still see the remains of some of the concrete blocks and caissons used to create the harbor.

All in all, an incredible experience!

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