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Normandy trip report

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Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the feedback from my Paris trip report so I figure I better do Normandy now while the juices are flowing. After spending a week in Paris, my wife, my 13 year old grand-daughter and I were in Normandy for 3 days.

Day 1. Took a taxi from our apartment in Paris to the train station Gare Montparnasse. Had 1st class tickets to Rennes and we really enjoyed the train ride - it was only a couple of hours. At Rennes, we finally found the Hertz counter where I had reserved a midsize stick shift car. For some unknown reason, they upgraded us to an automatic BMW for free. When Taylor (my grand-daughter) heard this she was very happy, and so was I. When we got to the car, we discovered it also had a GPS system in it. Another cheer except it did not have a users manual (which would have been in French anyway) and it was programmed to speak French. It didn't take long and Taylor had it reprogrmmed to English and she was our navigator for the rest of our stay in Normandy. That GPS made a world of difference!!! Usually trying to read maps and figure out road signs or street names is incredibly hard but with the GPS, it was not even an issue. Taylor just programmed in our destination and the rest was a breeze. Our first stop was Mont St-Michel on the way to our hotel near Bayeux. I was a little worried about leaving our luggage in the car at the parking lot while we were in Mont St-Michel but with the big BMW we were able to get all our luggage in the trunk. What an incredible place! We walked to the top and enjoyed the view. We had lunch at one of the restaurants there and had a fantastic plate of mussels (we counted over a hundred). Then on to Chateau de Sully (friends had stayed here before and highly recommended it). We also highly recommend it. We unpacked and took a short drive to the beach at Port-en-Bessin before having dinner at some little restaurant. Back to the Chateau and bed.

Day 2. Breakfast at the Chateau (not very good) then on to Caen to visit the Caen Memorial. I highly recommend doing this first - it gives a great overview of the area and the history. Taylor was very disturbed by the holocaust portion of the Memorial which is very well done. We bought some good tour maps at the Memorial gift shop and planned our day. We started at St-Mere-Eglise where the parachutist was caught on the Church steeple all night during the D-Day invasion. Then we went to the American cemetery at Omaha Beach. It was a very moving experience for all of us. I didn't know if Taylor would appreciate the history but she was very moved by it. We hiked down to the beach where it is now so beautiful it is hard to imagine the things that happened there 60 years ago. Next we went to Pont-du-Hoc where bomb craters and German bunkers still are there. We saw the cliffs the troops had to scale on D-Day. We then went back to the chateau to swim and relax before dinner. We had a very good dinner at the chateau's restaurant. After dinner, Taylor and I played some billiards before calling it a day.

Day 3. My wife and I left Taylor to watch some TV in the room at the chateau while we went in to Bayeux to tour the Cathedral and see the Tapestry - Taylor had done fantastic so far and we didn't want to push it by making her go to ANOTHER church. We then went back, checked out, picked up Taylor and had breakfast at McDonalds before heading to Longues-sur-Mer to see the German guns. What an amazing sight. From there we headed to Honfleur. I am probably in the minority here but we were slightly disappointed in Honfeur. Yes it was very pretty and well worth seeing but I am very glad we did not plan to spend the night there. Everyone has their own taste but we much preferred Etretat. My wife and Taylor both said that even though they really liked the Chateau de Sully, they wished we had spent 2 nights at the Dormy House and only 1 in Sully. After we checked in, we had a drink on the very lovely grass veranda with just an incredible view of the water and the cliffs. We then walked down to the beach and had dinner. After dinner we drove to the top of the cliff beside the little church for some awesome views. We went back to the hotel and waited for it to get dark so we could see the cliffs lit at night. Well it doesn't get dark until sometime after 11:15 at this time of the year so we drank a lot of wine and got fairly silly listening to the very loud seagulls. It finally got dark and it was worth the wait - very pretty with the lights on the cliffs. We LOVED the Dormy House and said we would really like to come back someday.

It was like being on two different vacations when comparing Paris to Normandy. We thoroughly enjoyed both but we laughed a lot in Paris and not much in Normandy.

The next day we had to catch the train at Calais to London where my brother and his family are living (he is in the Air Force). Taylor was ready to ditch her grand-parents and hang with her cousins (girls her own age). We stayed with my brother in Beaconsfield and had lots more fun (Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Tower of London tour, bus tour of London in pouring rain, Les Miserables play and several beers at several pubs).

Our other grand-daughter is 5 now so in just 8 short years we will get to take her someplace (I really hope she picks Italy - I could go back there several more times)!!!

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