The day after we attended the ceremony for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we visited a couple of other towns in the area. As I mentioned in the D-Day post, we had been to Normandy before.   I’m glad we had, because there were so many people in the area for the anniversary that it was almost impossible to visit anywhere.

We decided to start off our day with a visit to Cherbourg, which was not far from our hotel. We hadn’t had breakfast at the hotel, so we started off with a stop at a French bakery, which is always a good way to start the day.

P1110574

You might have noticed all the flags from different countries in the photo – the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France (of course) and even a tiny little German flag.

Everywhere we went in town they seemed very appreciative of what the Allies had done on D-Day and were proudly flying the flags all over the place.

I loved seeing the locals lined up at various stores to do their Saturday shopping.

P1110577

There they were at the butcher shop, and you can see Canadian and British flags flying in there as well.

The main reason I wanted to visit Cherbourg was this.

P1110596

“Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” is French for “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, a famous 1964 film starring Catherine Deneuve. I watched it several years back and really liked it. It’s unusual in that every single word of dialogue is sung. It’s in French so of course I watched with subtitles. The colors in the film are amazing and it’s worth watching for that alone.

Anyway, the building in the photo above was used as the umbrella shop in the movie. I had actually hoped to buy an umbrella when I was in Cherbourg just so when people asked me about it I could say “Oh, this? This is my umbrella of Cherbourg.” Not that people regularly ask me about my umbrellas, or that they’d get the reference if they did, but a girl can dream. Alas, I saw only one store that was selling umbrellas and it was a chain store that was outrageously priced so I passed.

If you’ve read any of our other blogs, you’ll know that we love visiting churches during our travels. Not because we’re religious, but because the churches in Europe are stunningly beautiful, both inside and outside. It boggles the mind sometimes.

P1110600

Cherbourg was no exception and they had some lovely churches, including the Holy Trinity church pictured above.

This statue was at a square called Place Napoleon.

P1110601

Can you guess who that is on the horse?

If you guessed Napoleon, you’d be wrong.

Just kidding. Of course it’s Napoleon.

The statue was right near a lovely marina.  

P1110608

There were benches at the marina so we sat for a while and just relaxed and enjoyed the view.

I had picked up a book of D-Day weekend events at our hotel and had seen that there was a military vehicle parade in the town of Port en Bessin. There were probably thousands of people in the Normandy area who were military reenacters. They were dressed up in various World War II uniforms and were driving World War II vehicles. There vehicles were being used in numerous parades being held in different towns.

After we spent a couple of hours in Cherbourg, we took a drive to Port en Bessin, about an hour away, for the parade.

As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of people in Normandy for the 70th anniversary events. The traffic was insane as it was, but as you can imagine military vehicles do not travel very quickly and having them on the road slowed everything down tremendously. On top of that, the vehicles seemed prone to breakdowns which caused even more problems on the road.

So, what should have been an hour’s drive from Cherbourg to Port en Bessin took us more than twice that long. We unfortunately got there just as the parade was ending, but the vehicles were still on display. We were lucky enough to find a parking spot and got out to explore the area a little bit.

The town is a small fishing port known for its scallops.

P1110631

When you walk along the beach, you are walking mostly on scallop shells instead of sand.

The little fishing port was the site of an significant battle between the British and the Germans from June 6th to June 8th, 1944. The town was strategically important because it was the end point for what was called PLUTO, an acronym for Pipe Line Under The Ocean. Its purpose was to transport fuel across the English Channel to the Allies in Normandy.

Scenes from the movie “The Longest Day” were shot in this town.

Because the battle was won by the British, the vehicles and reenacters and most of the tourists in the town were also British.

P1110638

We got to hear some music from a regiment of bagpipers.

P1110632

I adore bagpipe music.

We also got to see Sir Winston Churchill!  

P1110661

The military vehicles were on display just below this tower.

P1110623

It’s called the Vauban Tower and it was built in the 17th century to house guns that were being used to protect the port. We walked up to it and the views were gorgeous.

P1110665

It’s so difficult to imagine this being a battle site.

Here you can see some of the vehicles from the tower viewpoint.

P1110664

You can also see various flags again – Great Britain, the United States, the European Union, France and Canada.

There was a little path around the water to a tiny lighthouse, so we took a stroll and drank in the scenery.

P1110647  P1110652

As always, I find things like this amusing because you know you’d never see them in the United States.

P1110657

Why certainly, of course you can just walk on down that steep set of stairs – with no barrier on the right-hand side – straight into the water!

After our walk we went to a nice little restaurant for dinner and, of course, the Tipple of the Day.

P1110670

I knew that Grimbergen was a Belgian beer, but what I didn’t know is that it’s also brewed in France, by the Kronenbourg Brewery. Kronenbourg is a French brewery with a German-sounding name.

On the drive back to the hotel, we passed the Normandy Tank Museum and made a little detour to see if it was open.

It wasn’t, but there were a couple of planes getting ready to take off from the field next to the museum.

P1110676

I looked it up after the fact and it appears that the plane is a Steerman biplane, which was used for training by the U.S. military during World War II. After the war, thousands of the planes were sold to civilians and were used for things like air shows or crop dusting.

The next day we left early in the morning for our 8-hour drive home.

Despite the crazy crowds in the area, we managed to visit a couple of towns we hadn’t seen in our previous visit to Normandy. There are still a lot more to be discovered on our next trip, whenever that may be!

Tags:

 

About the author: Trish

 

Website: http://travelsandtipples.com