France: Day 4 – Normandy

On Saturday morning I went for a little stroll again to take some pictures.  Palm trees.  I wasn’t expecting that. 
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Brick homes + Brightly colored shudders = European Charm

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One of each please.

After a breakfast of cheeses, pastries and prosciutto at the hotel we packed up and headed out.  There were about 10 things I wanted to see and do on Saturday before our 8:00pm train, which were obviously never going to happen, but priority was the American Cemetery, so we went back up to the coast straight away. 
The cemetery was a lot like the one we visited in Cambridge in that it was pristine, serene and simply gorgeous.  But it was much larger, and had a much bigger visitor center and different monuments and landscape.  

We walked through the visitor center, which is really what makes the experience.  They have done such a great job of personalizing and humanizing what can start to just feel like statistics and facts.  There were stories of soldiers who were killed, stories about French civilians, and all kinds of background about the war leading up to D-Day, the miracles of D-Day and then the fallout from D-Day.  It was so complex.  

It was bit overwhelming honestly.  A couple weeks after we came home I sat down and watched Saving Private Ryan.  I’m not into violent movies at all.  You can ask my family.  I have a reputation for walking out if there are “too many bullets.” But I wanted to see it.  I wanted to really experience it in the way most of my generation experiences war.  On the telly.  And it was painful.  But it was meaningful too, combined with the opportunity to have been there on the beach and in the countryside.  

There was also a movie in the visitor center, a family-appropriate movie, that focused a lot on the gratitude of the French people and the courage and sacrifice of the armed forces.  

I don’t really have much else to say about it.  I’ll just post the pictures. 

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“This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed by the ideals, the valor and the sacrifices of our fellow countrymen.”

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The tile mosaic on the chapel ceiling was my favorite part here and in Cambridge.

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Representing France

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Representing the United States

We ended up spending quite a bit of time at the cemetery, and we still had a three-four hour drive back to Paris to catch our train.  So we hit the road, and the drive was just as scenic returning as it was departing.  Once again, we made it to the station barely in time.  I expected the kids to all crash on the Eurostar, but I think they were too hyped.  They were pretty sleepy though on the tube once we were back in London.  
  And since our train came in at King’s Cross we made a quick stop at Platform 9 3/4.  

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