Friday, May 23, 2014

It's All About History

The rolling green farm fields characterize Normandy today, but the history of the area is filled with war.  The beaches contain stories of the largest military operation in history. On these serene beaches on D Day, June 6, 1944, almost exactly 70 years ago, the Allies gained foothold in France ending WWII. We start the driving tour in Arromanches at Port Winston, where the British had built a makeshift harbor consisting of 4 miles of concrete pontoons strung together, and 7 floating piers, a remarkable undertaking. Further down the road is Omaha Beach, the site of the most intense battle where thousands of Americans lost their lives. Walking along the clean sandy beach, one can almost see the masses of troops pouring out of the Higgins boats, making their way up the long beach and up toward the cliffs. Entry was made during low tide so they could see the mines in the sand.  Having raised a son, it is hard to imagine sending a 19 or 20 year old off, and even harder to realize thee young men were there dodging bullets and throwing grenades. Looking at the beautiful backdrop of the town, it is hard to believe this is the same place that is in the videos with all the destruction that took place.  One has to see it to truly visualize the immensity of what occurred here. The American cemetery has rows and rows of white crosses with a dog tag number inscribed on the back of each. The French have adopted the crosses and on Memorial Day, each is adorned with flowers. It is a powerful place to visit.

On our way back we stroll through a small town and check out the local charcuterie, butcher shop, with a large display of pates made from organ meat, which Normandy is known for.

The area is 2 hrs from Dinan and we return late, dining at a marvelous find, L'Atelier Gourmand at the corner of the pedestrian bridge. Seated next to us are 2 couples from British Columbia and London. They give us recommendations, seeing as my iphone dictionary is not successful in translating the complex menu.   Our cod dish, smoked duck salad and raspberry puff pastry dessert is excellent and highly recommended.  Tomorrow we leave Brittany and head to the Loire Valley.


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