Wednesday, after our McDonald’s experience, we went to Arrromanches, site of the British D-Day landing (Gold Beach). The British experienced minimal resistance when taking the beach and set about creating an artificial harbor. They sank old merchant ships to create a breakwater, then added huge concrete boxes, built in England and towed across the Channel. Landing wharves were installed with floating roads and all was operational in six days – an incredible feat. This enabled additional vehicles, troops and goods to arrive quickly to continue the war effort.
Thursday, we drove to the Caen Memorial Museum (Center for History and Peace). This is considered the most thorough museum in the area, with video presentations and exhibits, beginning with the build-up to World War II, coverage of the war in both Europe and the Pacific, accounts of the Holocaust and Nazi-occupied France, and the Cold War aftermath, putting the Battle of Normandy into a broader perspective – complete saturation!
Changing pace, we drove back into Bayeux to see the Cathedral and the famous Bayeux tapestry. Don and I decided we had had enough of D-Day museums for a long time.
But Friday morning, because it was on our route, we stopped at the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum – and were very glad we did. Lots of information on the Atlantic Wall (German fortifications from Denmark to Spain), General de Gaulle’s involvement in the war efforts, and the contributions of the non-combatants, the doctors, the engineers, and the reporters. A cemetery for mostly British soldiers is nearby, with lots of flowers, a contrast to the American and German cemeteries.
We left Normandy behind, to drive toward the Loire, where our next tandem weekend was scheduled. It was based in the town of Maze, about 7 km north of the River. We are staying in another gite, like a bed and breakfast, in the converted hayloft, nicely furnished (we seem to always be upstairs, toting our suitcases up a flight or two). I commented that we had gone fully rural this time, with “pet” ducks, goats, three dogs and a baby pig. The neighbor rooster likes to crow at 4 am!
The tandem group is very friendly, over 25 teams this weekend. We said hello to the organizing couple on Friday night, before driving into Angers, checking out the Cathedral of St Maurice, and having dinner.
Saturday we rode 24 miles in the morning with about 10 teams, had a picnic lunch at the campgrounds, then 26 teams headed out for a 32 mile ride. We were passing by buildings where they play ‘Boule de Fort’, something like non-ice curling on a curved court, unique to the area. Dinner with the group was a multi-course extravaganza, which we abandoned at 10:30 pm before dessert, due to fatigue and overly full stomachs.
Today’s ride of 52 miles took us across the Loire, south to see windmills and vineyards. We tasted vines from the Anjou region with our picnic lunches, complete with clarinet music and instant coffee afterwards (the French way).
Tomorrow we will visit a Loire castle or two before heading the the Atlantic coast to spend a few days with our French friends Christine and Patrice Muller. I expect a great internet connection and will work on photos.
It rained twice today, both 15 minute sprinkles, otherwise great cool weather.