France Part 2 - History time

Hello again, yes it’s time for another dose of Gallic inspired drivel from across the channel as our foray into France continues.

Monday morning and the weather had duly obliged. As I mooched across to the facilities to take care of business the sun was up and the sky was clear. The only thing that would spoil a days sunbathing was a strip to the supermarket. Something of a necessity since we’d got virtually nothing in. It was only a few miles away though and after stocking up on the essentials - red wine for me, white for the Portly Partner, tonic for the gin and gin for the tonic we moved to the food. We’re nothing if not adventurous when it comes to food so soon the trolley was brimming with burgers, sausages, ham and cheese. I even got to practice my French on the guy on the meat counter. Or maybe I should rephrase that. Searching in the furthest corners of the pickled grey matter I managed to recall some words learnt in French at school - and not used since: “Je voudrais quatre saucisse nature sil vous plait” I pronounced rather self-consciously - hoping that I’d asked for four plain sausages. He seemed to understand - heading straight for the bangers - and promptly wrapped up three. Oh well!

Knowing that we’re unlikely to get real ale over here - certainly not on draught anyway - I had resolved to have a rest from beer - mainly because I didn’t fancy  a diet of fizzy lager - but on the advice of a friend in our local (thanks Les) I procured a tin of Pelforth Brune for sampling later. Purely for research purposes you understand.

The rest of the day was wonderfully relaxed. We both got stuck in to books - me  on my Kindle (other ebook readers are available) and Trev on the more old fashioned variety. I took a late walk around some of the minor roads around the site and the BBQ was fired up later on, the aforementioned Pelforth Brune providing a pleasant accompaniment. It was dark and rich and strong too. Just what I’m looking for…….

Tuesday and Wednesday were less than exciting - the weather turned - thick patchy cloud largely concealed the sun and brought some sporadic showers. I walked to the village and back - which now sports just one shop - a butchers - and we caught up on sleep and reading. An evening drive into the nearest town for something to eat - Le Molay-Littry - proved fruitless as there was virtually no-one about and everything was closed up for the night.

Thursday brought with it the promise of a better day and so the sightseeing began in earnest. First up was the little city of Bayeux - known - for those who can remember history at school it’s Tapestry. This is the main draw clearly but the town is worth visiting in it’s own right and was the first city to be liberated in 1944.

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We headed for the Tapestry first  - housed in an old seminary - and preserved behind glass and carefully lit. An audio guide explains the scenes and eases you along it’s near 70 meter length. It’s fascinating not least because it’s nearly a thousand years old. Photography was prohibited but I tend to look on that particular rule as more of an advisory and made sure the flash was turned off. Further on you can learn about the tapestry’s history and a short film explains the making of it. Interesting stuff and something I hadn’t given a thought to since I left school.

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Just around the corner is the Cathedral - apparently the original home of the Tapestry - and I have to say it looked stunning, particularly with the clear blue sky behind it. Inside a choir were doing a turn and very pleasant to listen too it was too. There’s a short clip on the video, a link to which you will find at the end of the blog.

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Lunch was calling and we grabbed a snack at a restaurant right near where we’d parked the car. The parking rules were a little odd. It seemed - as far as I could decipher - that parking was only charged between 9-12 and 2-6pm. So although parking is charged at one euro an hour, you can effectively get two hours free.

Anyway, lunch went well. I ordered in French and they replied in English which was a relief because although I can speak a few words I understand much less. Importantly, we got what we wanted - in the right quantity too!

Next up was a short hop to the coast and Port-en-Bessin. It played an important part in the supply of fuel to the Allied forces after D-Day and doubled for Ouistreham in the film The Longest Day.

There is still some commercial activity in the harbour from fishing with a daily market in the mornings on the quayside whose smell lingers on considerably after all the fish have gone.

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Along this section of the coast are the beaches on which the D-Day landings took place. We headed slightly west to Omaha beach and what a sight it was. Now being enjoyed by holidaymakers one can only begin to imagine what it was like in the early hours of 6th June 1944.

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Fittingly our next and final stop was at the American Cemetery overlooking the beach. The visitors centre was impressive enough with lots of audio-visuals imparting personal stories but the Cemetery itself is something else. Beautifully manicured lawns surround a sea of white crosses giving a timely reminder of the real cost of conflict.

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And that was our first day’s sightseeing. Today (Friday) is a day ‘off’ and the weather has supplied suitable weather in which to enjoy it. Below, you will find a link to another video - short clips joined together this time. Again, please let me know what you think - of the videos in particular but the blog in general too. Cheers!

9th July - Bayeux and the coast

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting - we have been to this area and loved Bayeux - there is a good war museum there. Thanks for the photos. I wonder if it could all have been avoided somehow WW2 ... but perhaps not ....

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