Although the Hotel D’Argouges in Bayeux was lovely, our day started with the city turning off our water at 9am, so we were up early and on the road to see the beaches of Normandy. Karen Brown (of Karen Brown’s travel guides) had recommended to me that we start our touring in Arromanches because of their museum, a great tip.
We first visited the 360 video presentation that is largely images and music, then sat through the video in the small town museum that detailed how Churchill led the charge to construct a harbor in England and transport it and build it in the sea in front of Arromanches in just a few days so that the allied troops had a way to come on shore. Remnants of the port still jut up from the water, a haunting reminder of what this must have been like during WWII. After the video we noticed an elderly Brit dressed in his uniform and ribbons, and the French school children were honored to talk with him.
We continued on to the American Cemetery which was sobering to say the least. I had not been aware that the cemetery used Star of David markers for Jewish soldiers killed during the war and even though I had seen movies, the sheer volume of crosses was overwhelming. Looking at Omaha Beach it was hard to imagine that what today is this gorgeous beach full of greenery was at one time the site of such a blood bath.
Our last stop on the beaches tour was Point du Hoc, the famous sight were the allied troops scaled the walls to surprise the Germans and make advances into Normandy. The most striking reminder of the war here are all of the huge craters in the ground where bombs fell. It looks like the moon with grass growing on it.
We continued driving along the coast, stopping in the tiny resort spot of Grancamp-Masey for lunch at the only spot open, and enjoyed salmon in buerre blanc sauce that was rich and delicious and accompanied by an assortment of vegetables – the perfect impetus for visiting Isigny-S.-Mer to taste the butter and cheeses of Normandy. Although the factory was closed for touring, we learned that the Norman cows produce half as much milk as a Jersey dairy cow, but it’s much richer in flavor and fat. It’s also addictive!
Back in Bayeux, we dined at Le Petit Normand for dinner:
Skewers of monkfish and apple slices wrapped in bacon with cider sauce and vegetables
Tart Fine Normand – the ubiquitous apple tart this time served with French vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar