06 April 2009

Des Plages de Normandie

The region of Normandy was at the top of my list of places to visit in France. This region is rich in French and European history; something that I'm very interested in. So, I spent the first weekend of my Easter break in Bayeux and Colleville-sur-Mer on the French coast. Bayeux is a small medieval town, historically significant since the 11th century when the Normans and William the Conquerer, Duke of Normandy, invaded England. Notre Dame de Bayeux is a beautiful medieval church in the middle of town, where the longest tapestry in the world (Bayeux Tapestry, 70 meters long) was housed near the crypt containing bodies from 1077. Bayeux is also one of the few villages on the coast that was untouched by the Battle of Normandy in 1944.

Jon met me in Bayeux where we enjoyed exploring the sites and museums. It was the perfect time to go, pre-D-Day Invastion's 65th anniversary when the town will overflows with tourists in June. In fact, the hostel where we stayed was practically empty, save the friendly young german couple, with whom we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. After exploring Bayeux, we made our way to Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer, where the American WWII cemetery overlooks the beach where the waves once washed over the heroic men who died in order to halt the German occupation of continental Europe.

Foggy weather set the mood as we entered the cemetery. The field was dotted with thousands of crosses and star of david marble headstones bearing the name and number of each American soldier who died there. As we walked down to the beach, we saw the open view that the Nazi troops had as the American boats arrived at the beach. The large open beach was empty on April 4, 2009, but it was depressing to realize its history on June 6, 1944.

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