I must say “Hats Off” to my big brother for taking us to the airport yesterday for our flight to Paris (I’m just not totally sure that he would take his hat off though). We flew Norwegian Air and although it was almost a 9 hour flight it was a very good one.
It took longer than we expected to locate the Avis Rental Car at Charles DeGaulle Airport but once we got our car – a Twingo – it was easy driving to our Airbnb in Bayeux, Normandy, France. All along the drive we saw these beautiful fields of yellow. We learned that the fields were “rapeseed” and it is used to make canola oil.
Once we arrived in Bayeux I was awestruck. Rick Steves had suggested a stay in Bayeux as the starting point for a visit to see the D Day Beaches. Bayeux is a picturesque town with cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and the towering, Norman-Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame.
We checked into our Airbnb, had a nice dinner, and after a very long flight and drive from Paris to Bayeux we would finally got some much needed sleep. The next morning our host Corinne had breakfast waiting on us before we would head out for our full day tour of the D Day Beaches.
Our first stop on the tour was the German Cemetery. The monument in the center is of a grieving Mother and Father because before they were German Soldiers they were men.
Our next stop was Sainte-Mère-Église. This is the town where the Airborne Divisions landed the night before the Soldiers would take the beaches. It just so happened that as the paratroopers were landing a building in the town had caught on fire. The people were all outside trying to extinguish the fire and the church bells were ringing. Private John Steele was an American paratrooper who landed on the pinnacle of the Church Tower and because of the ringing bells he lost his hearing.
Two of the windows in the church honored the Airborne Division.
There was an AirBorne Museum here which we enjoyed.
Next we were off to the Utah Beach. Here is a map of the actual D Day Attacks. We would visit Utah, Omaha and Pointe du Hoc, the American Landings. Gold, Juno, and Sword were the Beaches where the Allies would land.
Before going to Utah we stopped for lunch. Here is our small group – all Americans – from Texas, Maryland, and Iowa. Our tour guide Kate is wearing Red White and Blue!
At Utah Beach there was a replica of the Higins Landing craft, the Boat that won WW2 and a statue of Andrew Higgins.
These handprints are those of surviving soldiers when they returned to Utah Beach at the 70th anniversary of D Day – June 6, 1944.
Our next stop was Pointe Du Hoc. It is halfway between Omaha Beach and Utah Beach and it dominates the sea from its vertical cliff. The Germans had six 150 MM guns on this strategic point to prevent a landing by armed forces here. They were so long rage they would have been able to gun down any ships or soldiers approaching both Omaha and Utah Beaches. The Rangers were the first to land here at Pointe du Hoc and they had to climb the cliffs to get to the top to overtake the Germans. However, when they got to the top they realized the guns had been moved. The Allied forces had been bombing this area for months before D Day. Some of the pictures will show the craters made by the bombs. It is important to note that the Rangers did eventually find the guns further inland and they did destroy them.
The monument at Pointe Du Hoc is of a bayonet used by the soldiers to climb the cliffs.
We also visited Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of all the beaches. There was no natural coverage for the soldiers and there were bunkers housing German 88MM guns Here in my pictures you can see one of the actual guns and Omaha Beach.
Our last stop on the tour was the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach. We arrived at 5:00PM and were honored to see the flag taken down and to hear taps played.
Notice the one marker is the Star of David for the Jewish people who lost their lives here.
The one thing we noticed here in Norther France is that the French people are very appreciative of the Americans who lost their lives to give freedom to them.