When in Normandy, you have to explore the famous WWII towns and sights. The weather this day was all over the place...one minute it was rainy, the next was windy and cold, the next was hot and sunny, then back to rain and heavy winds. Not ideal for getting out and walking around, but we really, really tried and saw some great stuff. We started in the town of Bayeux, the first city to be liberated during the battle of Normandy. I loved walking around and seeing "We welcome our Liberators!" painted on the shops, as well as Canadian and American flags proudly waving on street corners. On June 16, 1944 in Bayeux, General Charles de Gaulle made the first of two famous speeches, clearly stating that France sided with the Allies. The buildings in Bayeux were virtually untouched by the war, which gives the town an incredible appeal and charm. We all loved wandering the streets, looking in the shops and feeling like we had stepped back in time. I wish I could have bottled up the charm that this part of France oozed with.
Next stop was Omaha Beach. Torrential downpour and high winds meant we pulled up next to the beach and checked it out from the car. Trying to picture the events that occurred there on June 6, 1944 is humbling. You really do get a sense of ultimate sacrifice, total unselfishness, and gratitude as an American.
We kept going to the Normandy American Memorial and Cemetery, which was such an incredible sight. The rain let up just in time for us to spend a while walking around the graves, reading some names and hometowns, trying to understand the great sacrifice that took place here in June of 1944. It is a holy, sacred and reverent place. There are 9,387 brave Americans buried on 172 gorgeous green acres sitting on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach. The land here was given to the US in perpetuity by France on June 8, 1944. You cannot help but feel deep, reverent gratitude when you walk amongst these soldiers who gave all for their country in the fight for freedom and for what was right.
We drove on to La Pointe du Hoc, but the weather turned sour again. So, we kept going to Utah Beach. The little French towns in between the beaches were just unbelievable- so picturesque- like what you imagine in princess storybooks. I would live there in a heartbeat because life just looks so idyllic. We are so sad we didn't stop to take pictures.
Because it was the end of the day, we couldn't get in to see the museums at Utah Beach, but I was determined to at least walk the beach. The pouring rain and heavy winds made it all the more dramatic to see. I walked through the sand, all the way to the water, so I could put my hands in it. What a reverent place...you really can feel a degree of the magnitude of what took place. Hallowed ground. I cannot wait to go back and spend more time here.