Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Normandy, France

The Family On Omaha Beach

In June, we decided to take a trip to Normandy, France to go to the D-Day Beaches and Mont St. Michel.  It was a really long drive - over eight hours.  The girls actually fared very well, as did I.  At first, Matt thought the girls were too young to understand what it meant to go there, what happened there so many decades ago.  However, I was persistant.  I view many of our trips as learning opportunities.  What better way to learn about history then by seeing the places first hand.  They may not remember it all and will have to look through pictures to realize they were even there, however, it's all part of the learning process.  Children don't forget everything they learned in first grade.  It's a building process.

So, Matt sat down with Axis and Allies, a World War II board game, and went over the invasions with the girls the best way he knew how.  Olivia, especially, asked a lot of questions.  When we arrived in Normandy and got to the beaches, she did remember a lot of what he told her and asked a lot more questions. Both girls remained quiet and respectful nearly the entire time.  We went to one of the museums and saw a video. The museums had life-size figures acting out war scenes.  Some of them in which soldiers were being carried onto an ambulance.  Lila had nightmares one night due to this. 

Omaha Beach Memorials

The Girls in a Bomb Crater From the War Decades Prior

Pointe du Hoc

Ranger Memorial on Pont du Hoc

Spot Where Ranger's Came Up During Battle on Pointe du Hoc
We had to pay a visit to Pointe du Hoc and the Ranger Museum.  Pointe du Hoc is still quite beat up.  It almost seems like battles could have been fought there last year.  
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Finally, we stopped by the Cemetery.  Again, the girls were quiet and respectful and asked good questions.

If you're planning a trip to Normandy, there are plenty of campgrounds in the area.  We stayed at Reine Mathilde.  It was quite nice as we had planned to tent and found ourselves arriving to downpours and heavy winds.  We stayed in one of their small trailers that had a bathroom.  Very small - but, nice.  Stove top and porch with picnic table.  You can sign up for fresh bread and croissants every evening and pick them up in the morning. Very inexpensive.  There is free wifi in store/bar/rec room.  Very quiet place with a nice pool (which we did not have the pleasure of using due to the weather, much to the girls' dismay).  You can find the website to the campground here:
Mont Saint-Michel
We ended our weekend with a trip to Mont Saint-Michel.  Fabulous!  So beautiful and they offer free tours.  The surrounding country side is also beautiful.  We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast that was just ok.  I'm not going to recommend it. It wasn't bad - but, wasn't knock-your-socks off either. Simple place, with decent breakfast and dinners.  We spend a few hours at Mont Saint-Michel and while it's worth it because of it's beauty, I wouldn't go to find good food or good shopping.  Also, it is NOT stroller-friendly. Don't bother. Stick your kids in backpacks or have them walk it.  Parents using strollers were hot and flustered.

Overall, we had a great trip - much better than expected, despite the rainy weather.  I highly recommend!! Normandy is beautiful and there is plenty to see.

1 comment:

Amie said...

I've always wanted to go to Mount St. Michel - so jealous! And glad the girls were respectful and behaved during the visit :)