It had already been a hectic 3 days in and around Paris, but we were off to Bayeux to see the beaches of Normandy. Each of us got to pick 1 “can’t miss thing” they wanted to see. Cindy’s was Normandy. We had purchased a 15 day Euro Rail pass before we left home and this would be our first day experiencing the European Rail system. We got to the train station early, got our pass validated and headed to the platform. We found the train, took a seat, and waited and waited. No one else was on the train and then the lights went out. We were on the wrong train, one that wasn’t leaving anytime soon. Jumped off that train asked for help and was directed to the correct platform. It was a bit intimidating at first but we soon got the hang of the trains and schedules and figuring out platforms. We sat with a lady from Paris that spoke very good English. She had been an exchange student in Ohio in the early 70s. She told us that she once met Bill Clinton and she was sure he was ogling her. When she got up to throw something away, I said, I was sure she was going to show us a picture of her cat, cuz she seems like a cat lady. She came back, sat down and pulled out a picture of the cat she wants to adopt. LOL…we decided to catch up on some much needed sleep and took turns at taking pictures.
The town of Bayeux is a wonderful little village. It is a bit of a walk to the center of town, but has a beautiful church and surroundings.
We met our tour guide Romain and we set off for our first stop of du Hawk Point.
Pointe du Hawk was one of the areas fought over during the Normandy invasion.
The Rangers were supposed to be at a different beach, but the tide took them to this area. It is a pretty rough, steep climb from the ocean.
Their supply boat sank, so they were on their own for 2 days, 225 landed, 90 survived.
The area on top of the bluff used to be flat but is now scarred with bomb craters. The US Navy had bombed the area thinking that is was occupied by the German military.
The gunnery shelter
A few pictures of the inside of the fortifications that Germany had built.
We headed to Omaha Beach. 32,000 men landed, including the US 29th Infantry. It was a National Guard unit on it’s first deployment. That unit suffered 90% casualty rate. In all 1100 men died in the invasion, with 1/3 occurring at Omaha Beach. After hearing everything that went wrong on that June day, it is amazing that the Allied forces won the battle. Romain did an excellent job of explaining the battle, using pictures as well and drawing a map in the sand.
The beach used to be very rocky, but is now covered by sand.
Some of the portable bridges that were used in the invasion.
Next we headed to the Normandy American cemetary and Memorial. Originally there were 12 temporary cemetaries that were combined into 2…4410 buried at St. James and 9387 buried at Colleville aka NACM. The average age of a soldier buried at NACM is 21 years old. Soldiers from both World War I and II are buried here.
The wall lists the names of missing soldiers.
It was very somber looking at all the white wooden crosses….
Visitors bring flowers to put on the graves. We found this very touching tribute.
Teddy Roosevelt, a President of the United States in the early 1900s, has 2 sons buried here. One from World War I and one from World War II.
The memorial is very simple but moving. We also were able to watch the retrieving of the flag.
It had been a very informative, emotional, and patriotic day. So glad we took the time and made the effort to go.
We took the train back to Paris and headed to the Eiffel Tower, for our last view as well as the light show that occurs at the top of the hour.
It had been a very full 4 days in the Paris region. Day 6 we are heading to Belgium.