Monday, July 01, 2024

France 2024 - Bayeux

The final destination of our trip was Bayeux in the Normandy region.

Friday morning, I walked from Hotel Pont Royal to the Hertz office at Carrousel du Louvre. This walk took me by the Louvre's Pyramid.

Hertz provided me a Citroën C5 Aircross.

The drive back to the Hotel Pont Royal was interesting. I tried to use my Garmin GPS with current maps. But it didn't know about the Olympic closings. It wanted to send me across Pont de la Concorde but all of Place de la Concorde was closed.

I'd seen the obelisk before.

I switched to Google Maps and got back to the hotel.

The drive out of Paris was even more interesting. It wasn't the maps this time but the route. Google Maps sent me around the Arc de Triomphe. Talk about traffic circles!

This isn't my video but you get the idea.

It's about a 3+ hour drive to Bayeux, mostly autoroutes. We encountered construction delays in both directions and 4 toll plazas. I used my tap Visa card at each plaza with no problem. Pick a lane with this symbol.

Once out of Paris and settled in, we began thinking about lunch, While the autoroute had rest areas called "Aire de Service d'Autoroute" with McDonalds, that wasn't what I had in mind for lunch. I had envisioned a leisurely drive through the French countryside but found myself on a busy highway.

So I took the next exit from A13 for Évreux and simply chose a direction, left. We came across Au Bon Accueil (web site, Facebook). That was just what we were looking for.

No one spoke English and my Google Translate app struggled with the menu. Finally the waiter realized that we were having trouble and began to bring out prepared plates for us to choose from! It was the best meal we had in France - 63€.

We rolled back into the car and proceeded to Bayeux.

In Bayeux we stayed at Domaine de Bayeux (web site). We chose a room in their Orchard facility. This is a modern, almost austere, building but very well equipped. It is 100 yards behind the original facility past a beautiful garden.

I had made dinner reservations for that night at La Rapière (web site) several months in advance. We weren't the group with the earliest made reservations that night.

La Rapière is down a small alley.

Let me zoom in on that sign.

3 course meal - 104€.

Best dessert in France! Chocolate profiterole with ice cream and salted caramel.

A true wine cellar!

On the way back to the hotel, we visited the Bayeux Tapestry (web site). The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 230 feet long and 20 inches tall that depicts the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, led by William, Duke of Normandy challenging Harold II, King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It's in a quiet museum just across the street from Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux.

Saturday morning Brigitte Simon with Unforgettable Normandy met us at Domaine de Bayeux and guided us on a all day tour of the American beaches, Utah and Omaha.

Brigette is a local and a friend of Nadège at Domaine de Bayeux. We hadn't anticipated the crowds already gathering for the 80th anniversary of D-Day upcoming in 5 days but Brigette knew all the backroads when we encountered a closure. She even knew how to get to all the good parking spaces.

We started at Sainte Mère Église where paratrooper John Steele became entangled in the church steeple.

This is a stained glass window in that church honoring the paratroopers.

The whole area was full of restored jeeps and soldiers in uniform, many on active duty from the nearby bases.

Just across the way, a fence still shows the signs of the fierce battle that took place there.

Brigette had made us lunch reservations at Le Roosevelt (web site) where Brigette knew everyone.

Le Roosevelt occupies a building that the Germans used for a telephone exchange. They had painted false windows on the bunker in an attempt to disguise it.

Following D-Day, the U.S. Navy used it as a communications center.

Everywhere were American and French flags.

A German anti-aircraft gun.

These are bomb craters. Brigette said that some of the nearby farmers let the cattle use them for watering holes.

This huge slab of concrete was expelled from the German ammunition dump when then attacking American forces blew it up.

This is Pointe du Hoc where the Rangers scaled the cliffs.

Pointe du Hoc is between Utah and Omaha beaches. The Germans had an observation post here where they could see both beaches.

This point used to be connected to the mainland but has eroded. Recently, half of it fell into the ocean.

This is looking out the slot of the German observation post. That's Utah to the left and Omaha to the right.

This is the cliff that the Rangers scaled leading the charge onto Omaha.

There were several active duty Rangers standing there looking at the scene. I can only imagine what was going through their minds. I approached two of them, patted them on the back, and said "Rangers, Lead the Way!" to which they replied "All the Way!" I got chills. Trish had tears.

The last stop was the American Cemetery. It is American soil.

The cemetery is located on a 172.5 acre cliff overlooking Omaha Beach. There are 9,387 graves of American soldiers who died in France during World War II. That is only about 40% of the casualties as the rest were returned to the United States.

Back in Bayeux, we had dinner at Le Volet Qui Penche (web site). The locals weren't as thrilled about it as we were. They called it a "bistro."

During the summer, they have outdoor dining on the bridge.

Only 2 courses - 75.25€. Very nice atmosphere but they forgot our cheese plate appetizer.

Sunday we drove an hour and a half further west to Mont Saint Michel (web site). The roads were a mixture of local roads (wider than Irish) and autoroute.

Mont Saint Michel is a magical island topped by a gravity-defying abbey. For centuries one of Europe’s major pilgrimage destinations, this holy island is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The history of the Mont Saint Michel begins in 708, after the archangel Michael appeared to the bishop Aubert three times in dream. Saint Michael asked him to build a sanctuary in his honor on an island.

The view of Mont Saint Michel from the walkway bridge. The parking is 1.5 miles away but a shuttle takes you to within 450 yards.

There are 350 steps to reach the top but there are plenty of restaurants and ice creams shops along the way.

We planned on having lunch in Crêperie La Sirène. It's above a gift shop.

I had read that they began serving at 11:45 but don't take reservations so you needed get to the gift shop around 11:20 and wait. We got there at 11 and climbed right up to the creperie.

You can look down onto the cobblestone street below.

He was cooking our breakfast.

Soon, it was packed!

We had breakfast crepes, dessert crepes, and then cider!

This is what we saw on the way out!

The tidal basin was full of people walking and riding horses.

We were about half way up the Mont.

We made it to the very top in front of the abbey.

This statue of the Archangel Michael depicts him holding scales, a lance, and a demon beneath him.

This alabaster altarpiece depicts the traditional scenes of the Passion of Christ: arrest, flagellation, crucifixion, entombment, and Resurrection.

This is a most lifelike stature of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child.

Beautiful stone columns in the abbey.

This is a monk-powered wheel used to draw water up into the abbey.

The gold-tipped pinnacle of the abbey depicts the statue of the Archangel Michael and the dragon.

Back in Bayeux for dinner, we just wanted junk food. Even junk food in France is wonderful. Although many of the restaurants were closed on Sunday, we found Pause Pressée that hit the spot. They even had a menu in English.

Monday morning we loaded up and motored back into Paris and CDG and back to Memphis

After Ireland and Scotland in 2022, I said I wouldn't take 7 people back to Europe. Then I took 5 people to another hemisphere with New Zealand in 2023. Now in 2024, I took 6 people to 4 countries. Let's see where we go next.

Zoom in and you can really see some details.


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