Monday, April 06, 2009

Bayeaux and Normandy Beaches

An early start at Reine Mathilde at about 09:00; we collected our pain chocolat and our baguette from the reception as we were leaving and munched the pain chocolat as we drove. Mmmmm! It was really cold last night and although we didn't freeze we weren't far off it. Showering in the morning was a pain because the water turns off after about 20 seconds and it was really hot so you would be scalded while it was on and freeze as soon as it stopped. Emerged from the shower all pink and clean!

Seeing as we are so close to the Normandy beaches where D-Day took place we thought we would take a quick look at them. I wasn't expecting to find it paticularly interesting but I was wrong, it was absolutely fascinating. Firstly, to say that they were beaches is something of a misnomer; there were some beaches but on the whole it is a line of cliffs with rocky beaches far below. On the tops of the cliffs were fortified gun, mortar and machine gun emplacements and the allies didn't just waltz onto the land unopposed; the battle of Normandy sucked up 100,000 lives in total. Looking at the size of the concrete emplacements is mind boggling; some of the walls are 2 or more metres of reinforced concrete thick. At the first place we went to, Longues-sur-mer, of the 5 gun emplacements only one was really destroyed and another partialy by the 1000 tons of ordnance dropped onto them. That is pretty impressive!

Mellman the giraffe cannon ball gives an idea of the bore of the cannon. 150mm for those interested.

We moved on to Point du Hoc where a group of american rangers had to scale the cliffs and then take the gun emplacements by hand. Of the 250 rangers that landed, only 90 made it through the next two days unscathed although given my recent brush with firearms, unscathed doesn't mean unaffected!

The size of the shell holes is amazing as you can see from the shell hole below, just imagine digging this with a spade and then think that this thing appeared in a second.

We were running a little low on fuel so we pulled off the highway into a town but everything was closed for lunch and I mean everything so no luck there. Once again we were stymied by the french road construction and had to backtrack a bit and while doing so we had baguette and cheese on the banks of the l'Elle river which was very picturesque. Caron is finally learning to sit still and ignore me when I take photographs.

We arrived quite late at Mont Saint Michel, one of the must-sees for me, but decided not to go in so i took a few photo's and then went in search of a blanket and a camping site. We were quite cold last night so we really needed to buy an extra blanket seeing as we're going to be doing this for 3 months. We found a great campsite called haliosis which is too close to halitosis for comfort and finished the day with a supper of pasta and tuna in a tomato sauce washed down with some very delicious red wine.

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