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Travelers First Trip Report:: Normandy and Paris, May 4 - May 16

Travelers First Trip Report:: Normandy and Paris, May 4 - May 16

Dec 1st, 2006, 05:24 PM
  #21  
DiG
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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Sunday May 7 American Highlights Tour with Battlebus and Meeting Rick Steves tour.
When the alarm went off at 6am, I awoke easily as I had to wash my hair. As we left the garden annex we saw a small outdoor patio for sitting. It wasn’t cleaned off yet or set with any furniture. As we rounded the wall to get to the main building we saw another patio behind here with people sitting out having coffee. It must be spring!

Breakfast (B) came with the room rate so we tried it out. Immediately as you pass the reception desk the dining room begins. We were seated with two women. Over (B) we shared our travel backgrounds and learned they came from Seattle. Today we’d cross paths as they were on a ‘Rick Steves’ (RS) tour and doing a D-Day tour. Both had traveled independently but opted to try his 13day ‘Heart of France’ tour.

They said their well traveled friends recommended it and the tour covered all the things they wanted to see and fit their work schedules. I asked them about ‘early wakeup times, being on and off a bus, and the pace of their tour’. This was Day4 and they were pleased except for early wakeups which they knew was part of the experience of being on a tour. One woman said the bus gave her time to write in her journal, nap, and meet fellow travelers so she was enjoying that aspect of it. The other didn’t care for the small rooms and hoped for better accommodations. Here at Hotel d’Argouges they were in the main
building and the rooms have far less space than the annex where we’re staying.

This (B) was similar to the one we had at La Chaine d’Or but wasn’t as hardy. We had juice, coffee/tea,
croissant, jams, and one small cheese. But it was fresh and the service prompt and friendly.

As we returned back to our room the temperature became cooler, around 48C, and a steady drizzle began. We decided to drive to our meeting point at St.Patrice Square in case it down poured. We arrived promptly for the 815am meeting time. Dale Booth, our Battlebus guide for the day, was there greeting everyone and casually getting to know all of us. After his administrative part of the day was done he informed us that the other guide had a sprained ankle. Because of this we would be a tour of sixteen people and after each stop he’d alternate driving the vans so he would be available for questions and discussion. The other man was only a driver, a local, and not a qualified guide. My initial mental reaction was perhaps it won’t run as smooth with 1/16 ratio but my heart told me to be a good traveler and go with the flow of things.

The order of stops for the ‘American Highlights Tour’ is: St. Mere Eglise and the Airborne Museum;
Airborne drop zones, Utah Beach, Lunch, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach stop 1, Omaha beach stop 2,
Colleville U.S. Cemetery and other stops.

Everyone in our group of sixteen was American and had a basic knowledge of the Normandy D-Day invasions. This was a welcome relief to us all. We had time to socialize and Dale utilized our time effectively not having to explain about history we already knew. In his humorous and insightful manner he always made sure the group understood the where, what, why, when, and how of the matter.

The first fact I learned that I didn’t know was that A13 existed back in 1945. It’s such a large highway it surprised me. On the way to St.Mere Eglise, Dale gave us background to the geographical areas we passed through and explained in detail how the Germans used their ‘conscripted’ soldiers from defeated countries. A reason why the roads were an advantage to the axis. The weather became overcast with hard rain and winds. Thankfully everyone was dressed properly and Dale had extra umbrellas.
*If you do not want to know the ‘real’ version of events you are warned to discontinue reading
until further notice!

St.Mere Eglise
In St Mere Eglise, everyone was surprised to learn that PFC John Steele didn’t hang from that exact
corner of the church but on the opposite side in the back. It was filmed that way for the movie “The Longest Day” because this angle faced the front of the church and the main courtyard leading up to it. Because of two brave paratroopers who managed to make it to the ground, PFC Steele, was wounded in his foot. The two paratroopers managed to divert the enemy’s immediate attention from that corner of the church tower as they landed near the front corner. There were German snipers in the belfry. After his two fellow paratroopers were killed, he played dead for two hours before the Germans took him down and he became their POW.

PFC Steele landed on the church June 6 at night. St.Mere Eglise was liberated late on June 6 by the 82nd AB and members of the 101st AB divisions. However, the fighting continued all around the town and it wasn’t until June 7 when tanks arrived from Utah Beach that the battle ended. PFC Steele was reunited with his fellow troopers. Yes, because of the church bells, his ears went ‘Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong’.

On the main door of the church there is an American paratrooper dropping with his parachute. You can see it when you look up into the colored glass. It is very moving knowing what it represented.

The fire wasn’t at the church but across the street at the town hall. Where the town hall existed back in 1945 now stands the entrance shop to the Airborne Museum. The museum is designed in a parachute shape. There are numerous rare military artifacts and many moving personal mementos like letters and photographs from the paratrooper’s personal life. The museum has a Douglas C-147, a Waco Glider and an excellent short film about this part of D-Day and the Airborne role in WWII.

When we crossed the church plaza to go over to the museum is when we saw the two gals from (B).
We exchanged waves. The group was freely roaming around on their own. I think they went to the museum first as they were never around the church when we were there.

When we arrived at the church and Dale began to tell us the ‘real’ story, a local parade was forming. Today was a national holiday, May 8, VE Day. As the parade began, Dale stopped briefly and we took in the simple yet very significant parade. We joined the townspeople who formed two lines from the front of the church door out to the sidewalk of the street. From the street, local veterans, dignitaries and others marched onto the church courtyard where they did a wreath laying ceremony with full honors. After they marched into the church for a memorial mass. Seeing our flag alongside France’s was a proud and memorable moment for me. Viewing the dignified ceremony gave me the shivers and brought tears to my eyes as I thought about all those who gave their lives for freedom.

Because we decided to view the VE parade we wouldn’t see the entire film at the museum afterwards. Obviously it was well worth it even though we all wanted to see the film. These are the decisions we made together as a group with Dale throughout the day. At each stop, he would explain what he wanted to accomplish and what was available to us. We then planned our time accordingly as a group. As individuals we then had an opportunity to go at our own pace and linger longer or shorter depending on our interests. Dale Booth was doing an amazing job keeping sixteen people happy and entertained.

DiG is offline  
Dec 1st, 2006, 06:06 PM
  #22  
DiG
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Okay everyone I NEED some assistance if I'm to continue writing a decent report.

I go back and read my posting. I then shorten my paragraphs and leave double spacing between the paragraphs.

After I edit my posting I Preview My Reply. However, the editing isn't showing up.

I repeated this procedure 2 more times.

Can anyone explain to me why this is happening?

Hopefully you have been able to view the photos at www.snapfish.com , If not, please let me know.
DiG is offline  
Dec 1st, 2006, 06:37 PM
  #23  
 
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DiG, glad you got back to this - enjoying reading about the beaches guided tour, and all your detail. Looking forward to the rest.

Your editing looks fine to me - paragraphs and all!

Sue4 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 05:50 AM
  #24  
DiG
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Continued for Daytrippers.

On the American Tour we met Jeremy, an american working and living in Paris for a year. His company will be moving him back to the USA in the fall. He chose the holiday to get out of the city and do this as it was top on his list while in France.

Jeremy took an early train around 6am from Paris to Bayeux. From the Bayeux train station he walked to St.Patrice Square which was 10 minutes. He's a fast walker so I'd add 5-8 minutes.

Jeremy arrived the meeting point at 830am. Dale Booth, our guide, knew he was coming in from Paris and 'Battlebus tours' checked to see if his train was running on time. Dale said they would have waited 10 minutes.

It may sound unfair but when you begin waiting minutes here, and then there, it does take away from the total day. Especially as this particular tour ends at the US Cemetery and it closes daily at 5pm.

At the end of the day after we were all dropped off around 530pm, Dale drove Jeremy back to the Bayeux station so he wouldn't miss his return train back to Paris.

Dale said they do get many day trippers.
It's a long day but your moving with the adrenalin of your emotions and the groups along with your diet. Jeremy brought food onto the train to eat and also had healthy snacks in his day pack.

For the cost of 80E he was very pleased and glad he carved out the time to do it. When his finacee comes to visit in June he is coming back with her to do it again.
DiG is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 02:45 PM
  #25  
DiG
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Continuation of May 7 American Highlights Tour

Our next stops were a couple of the (Airborne drop zones). Leaving St. Mere Eglise we didn’t continue along the beach front but headed inland to the Merderet River. Here Dale pointed out just one of the many flooded areas that the allies had to overcome the night of the landings and the difficulty it gave them in the weeks ahead as equipment and reinforcements arrived. Looking at the vast miles of land you visualize just how important this causeway was in order to be in control.

From the causeway Dale veered off onto an unmarked dirt road. We were in (hedgegrow country) where the Airborne troops helped pave the way for the Utah Beach landings. Seeing these perserved giant rows of hedgerows planted by the Normans to protect their farms from the wind, was an impressive sight. You could see the intelligence of how the Germans used them to hold back any allied movement. They’d cut out small openings sized enough for their gun sights, leaned back against the hedge, eat lunch or sleep, and just wait around to pick off the troops. In between the rows was all open space so there was no cover for the allied troopers. Tanks turrets would get jammed and then they were sitting ducks. After many unsuccessful attempts at taking ground here, an American soldier created the ‘bocage’ that could penetrate and break down the hedge. You need a special permit to be on this property so I don’t know if it’s something you could do on own.

The rain subsided now and then but there was always a steady drizzle. The temperatures were in
the low 40’s and the forecast said it would clear by the afternoon. I had silk longjohns underneath
a sleeveless tank, then a long sleeve pullover top with a cardigan and my rainjacket along with a hat, gloves and scarf. Inland our umbrellas were holding up for additional protection so I was comfortable.
I would just shake off my rainjacket before I got back into the van and I was dry.

The itinerary listed Utah beach as the next stop but we found ourselves among these very small villages. We came to a church and were told that this was the village of (Angoville-au-Plain). This was at the edge of another flood zone. The Germans held the village and the locals had two choices, Help
them maintain the roads, reinforce their positions, feed them or be executed by them.

When the 101st AB dropped at Angoville au Plain, the Germans were stationed in the tower of the church to survey the wet marshland. The troopers were isolated and surrounded. As the paratroopers dropped both sides began to incur losses. Meanwhile in the hedges, two medics Ken Moore and Robert Wright, under fire, were darting over the fields to care for the wounded. Eventually an aide station was set up in the church. However both medics lost all their supplies in their drops. The village changed hands several times over three days as the fighting continued in and around the village. But the aide station held and the wounded from both sides and one French child were treated. The first time the Germans recaptured Angoville they stormed into the church, guns ready. Seeing both sides being treated they quietly left the church. The church was never bothered again. The medics had one condition for everyone, weapons had to be left outside the church. After the first day they were completely on their own as the allies had to pull out to regroup and wait for reinforcements.
Out of the 75 casualties 73 survived. We saw blood stain pews and bullet marks aon the church.



The name of the church is L’eglise Saints Come & Damien. The coincidence of the story is that these two medics of the 501st PIR dedicated their lives to these 75 casualities. It all happened in a church dedicated to two martyrs, St Cosmo and St Damien, who were doctors. It is a beautiful 11C Norman church with stain glass windows,wooden pews, and the sun comes in directly to the center of the altar.

We walked around outside and viewed the cemetery and a small memorial that the village later made
In honor of Ken Moore and Bob Wright. A car drove up and a short burly man got up. He and Dale shook hands and then we were introduced to the mayor of Angoville au Plain, (Mayor Daniel Hamchin). Individually he shook each of our hands. In French he thanked each of us for coming to pay tribute to the church and for the sacrifice our country made in WWII. In return I thanked him for taking care of our country’s cemeteries here and maintaining the monuments around the area villages.

To be continued…


DiG is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 03:15 PM
  #26  
 
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Dale Booth was our guide in May of '05; I especially remember b/c my grandmother's maiden name was Booth, and we talked about this. We thought he did a fine, thorough job.
grandmere is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 04:11 PM
  #27  
DiG
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Grandmere:

We just fell in love with La Chaine d'Or.
Les Andelys was a place we will always remember.
Thanks for the high recommendation.

Di
DiG is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 06:15 PM
  #28  
 
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I'm happy that you liked it, Di; we stayed at Chaine d'Or based on glowing recommendation from Underhill.
grandmere is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 09:37 AM
  #29  
DiG
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May 7 Continued American Highlights Tour with BattleBus.

Oops! My report is out of order.

Our visit to Angoville came after our stop at Utah Beach. I just remembered because I took photos in the church which didn’t come out well. At the Utah Beach gift shop I purchased a disposable Kodak camera. With the downpours occurring when our tour began I decided at the last minute to not
carry my shoulder bag. I emptied what I needed into the 6 pockets of my rain jacket and in doing so I forgot our dig camera. Afterwards I wished we had brought at least Cosmo’s small day pack for our purchases

From the hedgerows we drove to Utah Beach. Here you could feel the wind and there was a lighter rain drizzle. The umbrellas were useless due to the wind. Down on the beach Dale used his infamous walking pole to draw us a diagram in the sand. He illustrated the positions of the German defenses and explained why the WN (gun bunkers) weren’t all in use on the morning the 1st Army landed here by mistake. He also used large laminated original pictures of then and now which brought the diagrams into better perspective.

Looking down the coast line we could see some of Pointe du Hoc protruding outward. Our weather was easing up and the sun began to come through once in awhile.

We noticed many people eavesdropping into Dales’ presentation on the beach. Others walked along with us to hear his explanation of events and listen to the personal stories he has knowledge of due to his personal interaction with veterans and their families. At times Dale would stand commandingly in front of us. Everyone was on a first name basis so we asked questions and discussed things using our names. This normally made outsiders disappear.

I realize it’s a smart travel technique to gain a deeper understanding when sightseers do not want to pay for it. My husband and I do it ourselves. But to be an obvious outsider who steps right up and enters into the group, as many people were doing, to me is a display of ignorance and bad manners. It’s a travel technique acquired by subtly.

Most of us know that luck, fate and American ingenuity combined together to make the Utah landings successful. Of course they incurred losses but their number was minimal compared to the other four beaches. Thankfully it occurred, as within days they linked up with the 82nd and 101st AB divisions.

Within our tour we saw a landing craft vehicle, a German defensive WN emplacement, some original barbed wire that remains today, two tanks and had free time to move around the area. The gift shop is very small with mainly trinkets. There were books but the register line was long so I decided to pass on that for now. Here I paid 12.50E for a disposable camera, a bottle of water, and an Airborne cricket for my grandson.

We didn’t visit the museum as the quality of the tour’s emphasis is to spend more time outside in the natural elements of what it was like for the allies and Germans back in 1944. Someone took our picture in front of the main memorial. I took photos of the tanks for my son and grandson.

The weather was increasingly improving and when we arrived at the Ivy house for lunch we could leave our coats in the van but I still kept my umbrella. The Ivy house is about one mile inland from the actual beach. It’s a B&B and self catered operation.

Earlier in the van we were given menus and the order is called ahead. Cosmo and I both had the chicken salad on a yummy baguette. The chicken salad had apples, nuts, and greens in it. We had juice, coffee and bought two more bottles of water. There are soup and other choices but on a tour day sandwiches are easy and wise choice. A few ate less and had the female owner wrapped their leftovers to go.

Upstairs is the restroom and a loft. The loft is a mini museum with WWII memorabilia collected by the family who own the house. You can sit down under a parachute canopy and rest upon sand bags to view it. There was a large display of German items.
For two people our cost was around 10E.

Ivy House, Utah Beach, Tel#0233710657, www.ivyhousefrance.com, [email protected].

DiG is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 03:20 PM
  #30  
 
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Where did you see the tanks? Was this at Utah?
hopingtotravel is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 07:29 PM
  #31  
DiG
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The tanks were out in front of the museum.

POINTE DU HOC
On the way to Pointe du Hoc the rain stopped and the sky showed signs of clearing. With full bellies we
easily walked the 3 miles to the limestone plateau of the Pointe. What remains are moon shaped bomb craters, the German gun bunker position, and ruined fortifications all around it. As we know the US Rangers scaled the steep, 99’ cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. They fought fiercely through the barbed wire and the well positioned cross fire of the heavy German defenses. It took a combined force of the Rangers along with commandos of 116th Regiment Infantry assisted by tanks to win this 30 acre battle.

When the fighting was over they reached the bunker where these powerful guns threatened the allied ships off Omaha and Utah beach. They were dumbfounded and shocked to see that the guns were not there. Like the defenses at Utah Beach, these guns had been removed and placed elsewhere along the German’s Atlantic wall. If these guns had been in place, Omaha Beach would have been even more vulnerable than what it was. What it did provide to the Germans was an observation post of the sector of the beaches where the invasion fleet appeared. The toll for securing Pointe du Hoc was as heavy as the German defenses. 135 Rangers out of 225 died there.

OMAHA BEACH EAST
By the time we reached Omaha Beach East, the rain was gone with an overcast sky and cold winds.
You still needed layers for warmth and a jacket to break the strong winds. Dale showed us the Dog Green sector where the 29th DIV came ashore and perished. With his walking pole he drew a diagram of
what the allies were up against that infamous day. He exactly showed where the German gun placements were every 50 yards along the beach, along with a wall of machine guns, mortars and crack German troops. The 352nd German DIV was carrying out a practice counterattack the day of the landings.
As most of us know, this beach head came to be known as Bloody Omaha.

Some of the group walked out to the sea. Turning around and facing the beach, you envision everything that you know and further learned from Dale. I pictured all the crossed iron barricades along the beach. I looked up onto the tops of the high beach cliff to where the entire well positioned WN gun bunkers were and it is a miracle anyone from the first wave lived. Then looking back at the sea you think of all the landing crafts that were blown up and the soldiers and sailors who perished in their LC. Then you think of those who made it out of their LC only to drown trying to reach the tide mark. It was such a horrorful event. Dale shared a story about two brothers in the first wave who were from the famous Bedford Boys. Each thought the other died only to be reunited three months later. It’s a long story and my trip report is long enough so I’ll omit here. We had time to ourselves before we walked back to the van.

The tide was out so we gained a proper perspective of just how far out an allied soldier had to run from his landing craft to the protective breach of a sand dune. To me it looked liked 5 football field lengths. A close and dear friend of my father-in-law’s, Mickey, through the years had told Cosmo and I about his experience. Mickey said that he ran like hell without stopping for anything or anyone and prayed all the way. He said his mind just switched to a place and that was his reaction. It’s not something he planned. When he finally had the right mind to think about it all, it was a struggle for him to get past what he left behind as he made his way out of the deep water and onto sand. Fortunately, he was able to lead a healthy and stable life after the war, marrying and raising two children, and held a prominent job.

OMAHA BEACH WEST
The next sector we visited was Omaha Beach West. It is where the 1st DIV well known as the Big Red One landed. We had time to see the German defenses as Dale explained the breakthrough. He also showed us battles that took place beyond the beachhead. This sector alone is 5 miles long. Just like Utah Beach and Omaha East, this sector was heavily fortified and manned by sharp troops of the German army. I took pictures of both beaches, some of the defenses, the bunker walls, and a landing craft vehicle that now has ‘6 June 1944’ painted on it.

Again, Cosmo and I were very pleased with our decision to take a guided tour vs. a self tour. Even with our knowledge and research, we couldn’t have placed exactly where the German defenses were, and then put together all the events that happened on over 30 miles of beach area on June 6, 1944.

The sun was winning it’s way through the clouds and we started to delayer our jackets as we pulled into
Colleville-sur-Mer. Here at Colleville is the US Cemetery. Visiting the final resting place of over 9300 US military service personnel is an experience I will never forget. I think any person who’s ever visited these acres of beautifully kept grounds can’t forget. Within the immediate area of entering the cemetery Dale took us off to the side. He gave us a detailed map, pointed out where things were, and explained how we could best utilize our 75 minutes in the 172 acre cemetery. On the map he’d circled where we could locate well known graves sites like General Teddy Roosevelt. Cosmo and I agreed on a meeting place and headed off in separate directions.

I went to the visitors office and picked up additional information sheets in English and in all the foreign languages. After I went and stood at the corner of the cemetery and looked out at the brilliant white crosses and Stars of David. I noticed that the main paths are laid out in the form of a Latin cross. At the memorial I saw the huge engraved relief maps of the Battle of Normandy and the Battle for Europe. From here I walked to the bluff that overlooks the part of Normandy Beach they call “that embattled shore…portal of freedom”. I decided to pass on the 30 minute walk down to the beach.

I followed the tree lined walkway between the sea and the cemetery. It was so quiet and peaceful. Then
I thought of the carnage of D-Day and other war torn areas in our world and my eyes got teary. As I made the turn to the chapel I began to get up the courage to visit a grave. I saw a Star of David and went over and stood before it. After I read the inscription I said a prayer for peace. From here I continued walking to the chapel which blew me away. You’re drawn to the black and gold Pyrenees marble altar and it’s inscription, “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish”. Then there is the colorful mosaic ceiling which shows America blessing her sons as they depart for war, and a very grateful France placing a wreath upon the American dead. My emotions grew deeper. I was so moved by this sanctuary that I was ready to lose it.

I exited and walked all around the chapel and then stood off in a corner to reflect. I heard Taps playing and faced the US flag as it was lowered. The hair on my arms was standing up. I was shocked at how many people just continued on walking and talking like nothing was happening at that moment in the cemetery. On my way back to the memorial, I stopped and prayed at two more graves of serviceman. Both were from Massachusetts. One was a Ranger and the other an Airborne trooper. I did this for them and for my son. My prayer was one of hope for the future of my country and the future generations related to these two fallen soldiers.

Finally, I made my way to Garden of the Missing located behind the memorial. I walked around the entire semi-circular wall saying prayers. On the wall I knew there were the names of twin brothers so I had located them before my visit. I have twin brothers. The missing came from 49 of the 50 states, Guam and the District of Columbia. Crossing back through the Memorial I stood for a few minutes to observe the bronze statue representing youth. The inscription reads ”The spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves”. On my way out of the Cemetery, I stood one more time at the same corner. I looked out over the cemetery and said the Serenity prayer.





DiG is offline  
Dec 6th, 2006, 03:14 PM
  #32  
 
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Di, you have made me teary-eyed, too. My husband and I went to Normandy in the spring, and one of the things that touched me so at the cemetery was the ages of the soldiers. So many of them were 18, 19, 20--just boys, really.

It was the same at the German cemetery, too. I thought it interesting there that the crosses were square and made of dark stone.
carolyn is offline  
Dec 6th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Di, after reading about the guided tour and your great descriptions, I think it's obvious that I need to do that instead of trying to see the landing beaches on my own. Just driving from place to place alone would not be the same! You seem to have gotten so much out of it. I think I will try to see the Caen Memorial museum first for sure.

Also, thanks for describing the weather
in May in Normandy. I will be prepared! Other parts of France that I have visited in May have been fairly warm, and didn't rain much at all, so it looks like I'd better not count on that.
Being a South Floridian, I'll have to pack carefully, and order some silk longjohns from L.L.Bean!
Sue4 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2006, 06:23 PM
  #34  
 
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I think my server went down as I was posting. Forgive me if this appears somewhere.

Last year I read a book "The Boys of Pointe de Hoc" (maybe, can't remember) which described the climb up the cliff. The second half of the book denoted how Pres Reagan spoke at the spot (maybe 40th anniversary?) and his speech made it very famous all over again.

I hadn't realized Omah Beach was so many miles long. Your trip report is the best I've read so far of this area! Thanks.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Dec 7th, 2006, 05:28 AM
  #35  
 
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Thanks for a fine description of an American sector tour.

Your report makes clear what I've suspected - that unless one is on a guided tour, covering both Utah and Omaha beach areas in a day could be a challenge, since unaccompanied one is invariably slower at finding places, etc. Particularly if one is drawn into spending time at any of the museums along the route. (I of course am making the assumption that one is going to try and actually trace the story of the landings, as opposed to being content with a quick photostop beside a sign or plaque or whatever.) Then there's the British-Canadian sector, which even for highlights only is the subject of another guided tour that takes a full day.

The more I read about this, the more I'm hooked.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 11:39 AM
  #36  
DiG
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ttt
DiG is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 11:41 AM
  #37  
DiG
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*May 7th conclusion…

After goodbyes and a fond farewell to Jeremy we drove to Notre Dame Cathedral. It was 545pm and the cathedral was closing at 600pm. The church keeper was in the process of securing and locking and discouraged us from entering. We said we’d be brief and reluctantly he let us in. Cosmo and I had ten In ten minutes we walked around quickly and back up the center aisle to say a prayer at the altar and left. We put a donation in the box and shook hands with the keeper. He thanked us and said God Bless you.

Immediately across the street is the “L’Assiette Normande Restaurant” where we met our dinner companions. I was hesitant as we normally avoid eating near major tourist sights. From our tour we met siblings, Bob and Lorraine, and their mother Sylvia, who were from Seattle. I asked if they ever took a “RS” tour and they said no but had attended some of his workshops in Seattle. The restaurant wasn’t open for seating yet so they took our name and told us to come back in twenty minutes. We used the time to browse the small tobacco shops for postcards. When we returned for our reservation a line had formed outside the restaurant. I didn’t expect a crowd this early but being Sunday, maybe there were less places opened and locals also dine out on weekends.

Our party of five was seated at a charming table next to the fireplace. Three of us started with a bottle of Bordeaux (2004), Cosmo had a light coke and Sylvia had water. I’m just beginning to learn about wines. What I can say is that it tasted crisp and robust and very smooth on my palate. After sharing our impressions of the day we relaxed into a fun and enjoyable meal together. We learned that they travel two to three times a year as a family and normally two other siblings are with them. Sylvia’s husband didn’t like to travel. After his passing her four adult children and grandchildren took her on a Caribbean cruise. Now the four adults travel all over the world with their mother Sylvia and they are
Very passionate about it. This was their second trip to France visiting Normandy and Loire Valley.

For dinner we all chose a set 3 course meal. Lorraine and I had a goat cheese pastry puff over greens, cod fish with tomato sauce over noodles and vegetables on the side. Cos tried the fish soup, rum steak with pepper sauce and green beans and baked potato. Bob and Sylvia had the soup with roasted chicken baked in a pastry shell. They said it was a bit dry. Three of us had chocolate cake with vanilla and chocolate sauces and the other two had crème brulee. The food was average compared to “Le Pommier” and the service was slower. The cod fish and rum steak, Cosmo and I shared tastes, were good. After our meal we all had a specialty coffee which developed into an international tour from Irish whiskey to Italian sambuca. The wine and coffees thawed us from our wet and chilly day. We exchanged business cards and said our goodbyes.

They were staying a block away at the “Le Bayeux” hotel so passed on a ride back. As a family they watch their budget and generally eat from set menus, vendors, markets and eat two meals a day. Other tips they offered were comparing train passes vs. pt to pt cost, staying in B & Bs and inns, renting apartments for long stays, traveling light and be very flexible with planning your trip. This was their tenth trip to Europe and on the way home; together they decide their next destination.

Cost of dinner for Cosmo and me with me sharing wine, Cos’s one light coke, and two special coffees including tip was 47.50E.
L’Assiette Normande, 3 rue des Chanoines, 14400 Bayeux, Tel#0231220461.

After a hot tub soak and some journal writing, we read while listening to French music.
Needless to say we fell asleep peacefully.


Di’s PLANNING GUIDE TO NORMANDY AND D-DAY HIGHLIGHTS.

Films> “The Longest Day”, “Band of Brothers series”, “Rommel’, the Desert Fox”,
“Saving private Ryan”

Travel Maps>
Michelin Green Guide
Michelin Map 102 ‘Battle of Normandy”
Michelin Red Guide 512 couldn’t get a 200 series.
www.mappy.com

Travel Books>
Cadogan Normandy
DK’s Top Ten Normandy
Fodor’s Forum and Normandy trip reports
Fodor’s France
Karen Brown’s France
Rick Steve’s France

Travel Websites>
www.normandy-tourism.org
www.bayeux-tourism.com

D-Day, history and military websites> Most of these can be found within the travel sites listed above. I noted the highlights below for easier retrieval.

American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer: www.abmc.gov/no.htm

Arromanches D-Day Landing Museum: Tel#0231223431; Arromanches 360 theater, Tel#0131223030;
[email protected]

Batteries of Longues-sur-Mer: Tel#0231060645

Caen Peace Museum: Tel#0231060644, Fax#0231060670, www.memorial-caen.fr

Commonwealth British and Canadian cemeteries: www.normandy-tourism.org

D-Day tours and military history websites:
http://www.battlefieldswww2.50megs.c...ield_tours.htm
http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/lonls.htm
www.abmc.gov/no.htm

German Cemetery at LaCambe: Tel#0231227076, www.normandy-tourism.org

Gold Beach Museum: Pl. Admiral Byrd, Vere-sur-Mer; Tel#0231225858

Juno Beach Centre at Corurseulles-sur-Mer: Tel#0231373217, http://www.junobrach.org

Omaha D-Day Landing Museum at St.Laurent: Tel#0231219744; at Vierville-sur-Mer Tel#0231217180,
http://www.musee-memorial-omaha.com

Pegasus Museum and Pegasus Bridge at Benouville-Rainville: Tel#0231781942, [email protected]

Quineville Museum: Tel#0233959595, www.memorial-quineville.com, depicts German occupation.

Ranger Museum at Grandcamp-Maisy: Tel#0231923351

St.Mere Eglise Airborne Troopers Museum: Tel#0233414135, Fax#0233417887

Sword Beach Commandos Museum at Ouistreham: Tel#0231966310
Museum of Atlantic Wall at Ouistreham: Tel#0231972869


Utah Landing Beach Museum: Tel#0233715335, Fax#0233715800








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Jan 5th, 2007, 09:02 AM
  #38  
DiG
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 243
… Continued…

I apologize for the delay in my report but my attention was focused on the holidays and our families. On some nights before I went to sleep, I did get to read the Forum and posted some replies. It’s good to be back here.

Monday May 8 2006 British-Canadian Highlights Tour with Battlebus
Today we decided not to eat breakfast at Hotel d’Argouges. We picked up croissants and juice from a shop nearby Place du Quebec, and sat outside on a bench until it was time to meet our tour. Dale Booth was our guide from Battlebus Tours and there were eight people in our group which is the normal size of their tours. The group consisted of a father and son 14 years old, and two upbeat British couples and us. Our weather today started in high 40’s with some overcast skies but no visible rains.
Cost of croissants and juice was 2.00E pp, total 4.00E for us.

On our way to our first stop which was the Commonwealth Cemetery in Rainville, Dale shared the background on Caen and its pivotal role in WWII. He shared a couple of personal stories from his tours with British and Canadian veterans. I’m attempting to shorten my report so I went get into them. You’ll just have to take his tour.

At Pegasus Bridge, Dale explained Major Howard’s mission. As we know Major Howard and his troopers landed by gliders in the cover of early morning darkness. They were to hold Pegasus Bridge until relieved by Lord Lovat’s Commandos. The Commandos had landed at Sword Beach. The original bridge with numerous bullet markings is part of the outdoor Pegasus Museum along with an original glider. We viewed today’s bridge from the river side as Dale explained the battle. There is an impressive monument to Major Howard along the river side.

It was explained that when Lord Lovat and his commandos reached the bridge area, they didn’t play ‘Blue Bobbet’ but ran like heck for cover as the Germans were fiercely fighting to maintain their position over the Orne Canal. Dale actually interviewed the British commando who played the bagpipes that day which is why we know this is true.

The Pegasus Memorial Museum is loaded with an excellent film about D-Day and has
many good explanations of what occurred that day to the British and Canadian military personnel. There are real gliders used that infamous day along with great descriptions of the British paratrooper’s life. The museum contains many authentic artifacts and personal mementos like letters and photos. This museum along with the St. Mere Eglise Airborne was the best we saw in these two days. There is a great bookstore here. I had Dale recommend something that I couldn’t get in the states. The book covers Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches in their entirety. You definitely have to be a history buff to enjoy it.

On our way to the German bunkers we drove through the narrow streets and small villages and towns that Lord Lovat’s commandos had to fight through to reach the Pegasus Bridge on June 6. To know they had to make it through every nook and cranny
of each area from Sword beach all the way to Pegasus Bridge is a remarkable feat.

The German underground HQ was essential for us to see in order to understand what the Sword beach landings were up against. The Germans held such a strategic position of the high ground and had a bird’s eye view of both Sword and Juno Beach. This was a heavily fortified Atlantic Wall. General Rommel had done his job well. We had the opportunity to go down inside them. It’s a steep, narrow climb down and once inside the bunker is completely dark. I used my thumb illuminator that was on my key chain to light the way. Four of us went down and explored. Their quarters were tight like being a submarine. They were so entrenched into the ground you could understand how the naval bombardments did little or no damage to them.

Dale told us the well known story of Sgt. Hilman from the Suffolk Regiment. It was described how his bravery at charging bunker after bunker was like a moment of madness that be felled him. But this moment of madness gave his unit the opportunity for a breakout after being pinned down relentlessly for hours.

A lighter story is how the German commandant’s mistress lived on the farm across the hillside of their HQ. On rainy evenings the commandant used the bunkers to reach his mistress. In the movie “The Longest Day” Major Pluska’s character was used as the commandant. The actual commandant wasn’t immediately available the morning of June 6th as he slept in at the farm. Thus, He wasn’t at his command post when the action began so Hollywood gave him a spanking here.

We viewed the French Canadian Cemetery at Bennieres-sur-Mer. What struck most of us were the ages of the young men, some just boys only 15 and 16 years old, who joined the Canadian Infantry. Their graves are inscripted with their birth and death dates along with insignia of their units. At the American cemetery the head stones have their name, rank, unit, and date of death. It gave me chills and caused the hair to stand up on my skin.

At Sword Beach we saw where general Montgomery came ashore. His objective was Caen. But as Dale explained on the way down and after seeing some of the actual German fortifications, you could understand how General Montgomery was prevented from achieving this. The German armor was so strong and fierce and they held the best position of high ground in that area. Seeing it today with its gentle green rolling hills, it is difficult to picture the horrible battles that occurred here. The bunkers keep the memories.

In Hermanville we saw the church but didn’t go inside, which the BBC used to broadcast from in June 1944. Dale showed us a water-well that the British had won in a battle and they used it for several weeks. I guess the Germans didn’t have time to blow it up as they retreated inward towards Caen.

At Ouistreham we bought our lunch from a snack bar beach vendor. We enjoyed crepes, fries, hotdogs and more crepes. A local fish market was just closing down when we pulled up to the snack bar. I walked around a bit to get a local feeling. The sun was out, my coat was finally off and the sea breeze smelled so good and felt very invigorating.
From Ouistreham we stopped at Juno Beach. Dale used his pole to draw a diagram of the Canadian landings. They endured heavy casualties like Omaha Beach. Of course we don’t hear about this as much. I was amazed to learn that they covered eight miles on the morning of D-Day alone. Then I pictured the cemetery and the headstones of those young boys. What a sacrifice they gave in freeing Europe from tyranny and oppression. There is a Juno Beach Center for those who have additional time and wish to see more of the Canadian role on D-Day. The Center uses student guides and there are numerous hands on exhibits. We didn’t go there but I met a Canadian father and son on our tour that went for a few hours and they enjoyed their time there.

At Gold Beach, Dale diagramed the landings of the 50th British DIV. In this area we retraced with Dale, the story of Stan Hollis of the Green Howard’s Brigade. Stan Hollis
Single handedly took out a bunker and led his Brigade onto Crepon where his quick thinking and bravery saved many of buddies. Stan Hollis was the sole recipient of the ‘Victoria Cross’ on D-Day. It is the most prestigious medal the British Army has.

From Gold Beach we drove to Port Winston. High up on a cliff we viewed the remains of the artificial harbor. Afterwards we drove down to the beach itself. I won’t be repetive here. Most of us know what the mulberries did for the success of the landings in the days following D-Day. We knew that this tour doesn’t cover the Arromanches Museum.
It is the only other museum we would’ve liked to visit along with the 360’ theater. But for the time involved in an immense day tour like this one we preferred it this way.

There were many large tour groups and buses today compared to yesterday, Sunday. Perhaps the National Holiday today had something to do with this. I was very glad to be a part of a small, intimate group. Everyone was relaxed and the Brits shared some very personal family stories while we were altogether in the van. It was a lively fun group.

Summing it all up was our final stop at the Batteries of Longues-sur-Mer. Those enormous guns overlooking the beaches of Omaha and Gold Beach put everything into perspective. Hitler’s Atlantic Wall along the Normandy Coast was a large success. For the allies, some luck like the landing mistake at Utah Beach, much bravery, countless selfless acts of heroism and the quick witted thinking of individuals are the many reasons why it was overcome.

It is overwhelming when I think about D-Day and the days that followed. I look at our photos and postcards from our two tour days, and picture Dale’s diagrams on the beach, and hear his descriptions in my mind. Then I reread sections in one of our history books and to me the ally victory is one grand miracle.

Because of the history and the emotions that can be stirred up on such a sensitive subject, I believe you will enjoy a tour regardless of the one you chose. We can’t say enough good things about Battlebus, our guide Dale Booth, and the way they do it.

Battlebus WWII Battlefield Tours, Telephone #031-22-28-82
http://www.battlebus.fr,
[email protected] Address your inquiry to Myriam Woodadge

Cost of each tour 80Epp. Our two day total came to 320E. You pay in cash day of tour.

After the tour we stopped at the hotel’s front desk to make dinner reservations. Unfortunately, “Le Petit Bistro” was closed Sunday and Monday and they were already booked for Tuesday evening. We took a 9pm seating for “Le Pommier”. Everyone on the forum recommended “Le Petit” so we wanted very much to try it. Coming in that past Saturday, we had no idea when we’d reached Bayeux. So when we called Hotel d’Argouges to keep our room, we passed on making a reservation for that first night.

Tonight Cosmo took a turn at a hot soak. Two days of tours and we were both beat but never the less, we were both very pleased and happy to have done them. We rested and then walked to “Le Pommier”. The manager recognized us and we were seated in the back room with the locals. You can’t see this room from the lower level. It was old world in style and discovered it was the original restaurant before they expanded

Our meal and service again was very satisfactory. Cosmo had filet mignon, potatoes and greens with Evian and a club soda. I had the Normandy meal of roasted chicken inside a pastry puff, greens and potatoes with ½ bottle of Riesling. We both had these delicious baked pears with some yummy sugar glaze drizzled over them. Afterwards we strolled around and enjoyed our first warm, non-rainy walk. The town is very pretty in the evening. It was so clear tonight that we could see the stars for the first time since we had arrived in Bayeux.

Cost of “Le Pommier” meal with tax and tip was 63E.

Tuesday May 9 2006 “A Lazy day in Bayeux; Laundry, ATM, Bayeux Tapestry”
With no alarm or place to be we easily slept in a bit. We enjoyed a full hot breakfast in the main dining room of the hotel. In addition to the standard meal we had bacon, eggs, and ham. It was nice to just linger with a pot of tea and coffee. The patio outside was calling to us but we were good travelers and decided to do our laundry.

Hotel d’ Argouges standard breakfast cost was 7.00 E pp.
Additional cost for full breakfast was 5.00Epp, total with tip 13E pp. We paid cash.

Just down the street from the hotel is a launderette. One thing we learned is that after you have selected your washer, leave the top open, and buy your soap if needed, then add it. Next, go the main control box, put in your coin, press the number of your corresponding machine and you’re good to go.

Funny thing was, we selected our machine and put our clothes in. Then we put the coin in the main control box and pressed our number. The machine started without the soap and we couldn’t get the door open. I scooted across the street to the market thinking owners are normally close by. The owner was coming outside and met me at the sidewalk. Meanwhile, Cosmo bought soap from the vending machine. We all had a good laugh and the owner stopped the machine by using his key in the main control box.

Only then could we open the washer to put the soap in. We just assumed it wouldn’t start until we pressed the buttons on the actual machine. It was quite hilarious to see us try to open up the wash machine while it was running and us scurrying to rectify the situation.

From here we found an ATM, our first experience overseas with one, and had no problems using our credit cards. For the Battlebus tours we had bought the euros from home and just endured the exchange rate. We decided that we didn’t want to fuss at CDG on our arrival day. From that point on, we were enjoying ourselves too much that we forgot to use the ATM in Les Andelys. Ouch! Those darn fees later on when the bill arrived back at home.

After some window browsing we sat at a lovely local corner café and had cappuccinos. After we put our clothes in the dryer we bought some water and snacks. Back to the hotel with our laundry where we asked the manager to have our bill ready for us this evening. Poor woman thought we were checking out a day early.

We walked to the Bayeux Tapestry. Here we opted for the audio guides which came in handy as you can view the Tapestry at your leisure. They are included in your admission so it’s a no brainer. Before the actual Tapestry we took our time. We viewed the room of exhibits and explanations of the Tapestry and then saw the room about Norman culture. From here we walked upstairs and watched the English language version of the fifteen minute film. The film is a dramatization of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

A suggestion is to check the film times and the language being shown before you start your visit. We must’ve visited this place just right because when we viewed the actual Tapestry, there were only two other people. After the film, people left and we expected they’d be going downstairs to the Tapestry as well but that wasn’t the case. It was midday so lunch was the other reason why it wasn’t crowded.

My impression was Wow! That’s a lot of embroidery work ladies. To know it is on the original wool linen cloth was mind blowing. The colors of the stitching are still so vibrant and stand out well against all that lighting on it today. The details to the story telling are indescribable. What a masterpiece work. I enjoyed viewing it from various distances. Utilizing the benches along the wall, I could pause the audio and just appreciate the beautiful Tapestry. It’s so relaxing to go at your own pace.

Cost of admission with audio guide 7.60Epp.

We wanted to visit the Lace and Porcelain museum, “Baron Gerard Museum”. This is free admission with your Tapestry ticket. I also wanted to see the Lace Conservatory. However we found our stomachs growling. From the Tapestry we turned right onto rue de Forest Nesmond. Does anyone know whom this street was named after?

So we turned right onto rue Forest Desmond. Then we crossed over the river and walked past the lovely water wheel. There we found a very small café on our left. I apologize but can’t recall the name. We each had a hearty bowl of French onion soup, green salads, and split a steak sandwich. Add water, one soda and two glasses of wine and we had ourselves a great relaxing lunch. There is an upstairs but your view is the building across the way so we stayed at street level. The owner plays a blend of French and American music. He was very funky, reminding us of the 1960’s. The service was excellent and the food was hearty and good.

Cost for this lunch was high at 41.63E for 2 people.

Walking lunch off we took pictures of the water wheel, the town and bought postcards for our travel journal. We also wanted to go to the museum and back to the Cathedral. It was late afternoon and our feet were very tired so we headed back to the hotel. Too many places to see but not enough energy or time. We packed up and laid out our clothes for tomorrow. I wrote in my journal and Cosmo paid our bill and read. Then we drove and gassed up the car. After returning back to the hotel we walked across the street and around the rest of St.Patrice Square that we hadn’t seen yet.

Cost of “Hotel d’Argouges” Garden room with a Queen Bed in the annex, 102E; Car park 2E per day. Cost for 4 night stay was 416 E.

Off the St. Patrice Square there are several restaurants and by 800pm we settled for one that had filled several tables. The menu was a mix of French and Italian courses. The décor was modern. Again we chose from the 3 course menu and had fish, rice, vegetables and a bottle of wine. Our dinners were light yet satisfying. I don’t have a receipt as we paid in cash. I say this because I always keep all our receipts. I didn’t mind that I misplaced the receipt as it wasn’t on a credit card. I have no name for the restaurant. It was located on the Square facing east so Hotel d’ Argouges would be off the square to your right when you stepped outside. The meal was excellent and the service was very attentive.

Cost with tip and tax was around 50E.

While dining there we met an American couple in their early 30’s. They had traveled from Germany, to Holland and now France and were headed to Italy. They were using rail passes and each was traveling with only a small back pack. The young lady had a leather shoulder bag that served as her day bag and purse. They shared most toiletries and were the lightest travelers I’d ever met. Each had 2 bottoms, 4 tops, a sweater and jacket, hat, gloves and scarf. The man had only 1 pair of shoes and the lady two. Now that’s traveling light!

We set the alarm clock for 630 am and fell fast asleep.




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Jan 5th, 2007, 09:34 AM
  #39  
tod
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Holy Moly - I with you Travelnut!
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Jan 5th, 2007, 05:32 PM
  #40  
DiG
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 243
Wednesday May 10, 2006 Eurpocar, train to Paris, Hotel de la Bourdonnais.

By 700am we were on the A13 freeway to Caen. We allowed ourselves extra time and we’re so glad we did. Somehow we missed our exit off the peripherique road,
Caen’s ring road that goes all around the city. I suggested we get off at the next exit and get directions from there but Cosmo wanted to go around again. So off we went for
thirty minutes around the ring road but not missing our exit this time. The morning traffic had increased and going around the ring that second time was at crawl.

It’s weird because we knew the exit signs would have several names on them. The first is for that exit and the next two are for the upcoming exits. We swear we never saw the exit for the train station our first time around. Then funny as it seems we missed our next turn on the round-about. But from experience we knew to just go around again and get off. The street signs didn’t match our directions in hand so we pulled over and spoke with a truck driver.

I took out my handy spiral pad and pen again and wrote down where we wanted to go.
The driver drew a map for us and then pointed the way with his arms. You need patience
and have to stay calm. Before we knew it we arrived at Europcar. They were very efficient and after a quick check of the car we were expedited through their hand held scanner and given our receipt. Such a contrast from the fiasco at CDG airport.

Across Europcar is the Caen train station. How convenient and well planned this is.
We tried to make the car drop in Bayeux but couldn’t snag that from Europcar. They
gave us the best price over Avis, Hertz, and Auto Europe so we went with them.

Cost of 5 day rental 500E

Europcar Telephone #825825490, Fax # 148627134;
http://www.europcar.com

At the train station we bought some croissants and juice. After walking up to the platform we showed the train conductor our ticket and he pointed out where we should wait. I think it’s a smart thing to ask if you don’t know the trains. They are long and everyone boards quickly that it’s great being in the right area when the train pulls in.

We easily boarded and put our luggage above us. After our Italy trip we decided to try sitting across from one another at the window seats instead of sitting side by side. We found it easier for conversation and could share the little table between us. The set up was for four passengers. I booked our tickets in April, 21 days before our trip. On the advice of Grand mere I had tracked the prem prices in 2nd class and did well.

The ride was relaxing as we talked, read, and I conversed with a sweet petite grandmother who sat next to me. Today she was treating her granddaughter and three daughters to lunch in Paris and also some shopping. They were dressed to the nines and looked so coiffed and elegant. Her family sat across the aisle from her. Before long all of us were taking cat naps only to wake up on the outskirts of Paris. My heart started beating faster. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to see Paris, a dream I had since I was a little girl.

Cost for prem ticket, Caen to Paris, 25Epp. Total for us was 50E.

We waited for our car to empty and then took down our luggage from above. Within the station we found an empty space on a wall. I wanted to use the metro and bus and y husband wanted to use a taxi. I was trying to keep our overall expenses down. I’m a country girl and I married a city boy. He likes taxis and 5* hotels. I’m happy on public transportation anyplace that is safe and clean.

As the taxi left the station we began to smile and delight at all the sights that kept popping up everywhere. It was a sunny day with hazy skies. I’d written out the address on my handy spiral pad for the driver. . The driver pulled onto the sidewalk at the hotel and took out our luggage. He also loaded it in at the train station. He was polite and didn’t rush us when we first exchanged greetings. He welcomed us to Paris and said enjoy! The ride was short and I think inexpensive. So even though public transportation cost less our transfer to the hotel had no glitches.

Cost of taxi with tip was 13E.

Hotel de la Bourdonnais

Hotel de la Bourdonnais, with a 3* star rating was recommended by a few long time favorites when I searched for a room that would satisfy my husband’s taste. I don’t think he’ll ever get use to the smallness of European hotels but in order to keep traveling I believe he may have to. I chose this hotel for its recommendation from the forum, it’s proximity to public transportation (the joke’s on me here) and because the room was spacious enough to appeal to my husband standards.

I’ll try to be brief. Upon arrival the lobby was a scene from the accidental tourist who locked horns with the rudest desk clerk in the world. There was luggage strewn everywhere. There appeared to be several small groups and individuals checking out. We kept our luggage and took a seat in the waiting area adjacent to the front desk.

There were communication problems between her and an Asian group. As she checked them out she muttered under her breath and was making remarks as to how stupid they were. Then a few German speaking businessmen made better progress with her followed by another Asian group. Yes, again she muttered under her breath about this group. Between check outs she was barking out orders to the sole Asian porter.

Okay, so she was all alone from what we could observe. But she was rude, bias and downright unpleasant. What happened to professionalism and common courtesy?
The line was down to one man when we stood up to go over to check in. As we did this an Asian woman came running in screaming about something. Apparently she was from the first group who had checked. They found her bag behind a large planter in the lobby.
Obviously it had fallen down and was pushed back by all the others’ luggage.

Now at this point Cosmo and I without discussion, have no desire to leave our bags
unattended. Check in was at 300pm and it was around 120 noon. In my best French I introduced ourselves to her and handed her our confirmation. She said nothing to me. She didn’t even acknowledge that she heard me. The clerk proceeded to the computer and came back handing me a paper to sign. I took my time to read it over. Meanwhile, the ‘desk clerk from beyond’ begins to mutter in French. I looked up at her and politely said in English, “if there is something you wish to say to me then say it to me, not at me”. She became very flustered and said it had been a long day.

She called over the porter and handed him many keys. The clerk finally looked at us and told us to follow him. No hello, No welcome to Paris, nothing except ‘follow the porter’. I asked her if there was a problem with our reservation. She said, “just follow him and tell him what room you want”. We had a confirmation for a spacious room with two queen beds on the street side. After seeing a flea bag twin double room with slumpy mattresses, then a very spacious double queen room in the back facing an alley, we saw the last room which was what we expected to see.

On the third floor was a spacious room with two queen beds. It had large windows that opened up and faced out onto the street in front of the hotel. There was a full dresser, bureau, mini refrigerator, desk and chair, small sitting chair, TV, phone and a sofa bench at the end of one of the beds. It also came with a spacious separate bathroom with a shower and a separate toilet. The toilet area was narrower than most American public restrooms but I didn’t need a coin to use it so what the heck. We told the porter we’d take it and he showed us how to use everything and what to do if we needed his services. He escorted us back down to the front desk.

There we agreed to leave our luggage with him. He showed us the closet he would keep it in until we could check-in. The porter had been very pleasant and professional towards us and in turn we gave him a tip which he was grateful to receive. We told the desk clerk we’d be back for 300pm and we gladly left her for lunch. Cosmo started in about the clerk. I agreed with him but said, “no one is going to spoil our time here”.

From the hotel we turned left and walked up to the crazy intersection of five streets or more. We walked around briefly and settled for “La Terrasse du 7eme”. The outdoor tables were filled so we sat just inside to the right at the window. We each had a salad and quiche Lorraine. I enjoyed a glass of red Beaujolais while Cosmo had a club soda. What a happening view of Parisian life. It’s a great location to sit back and people watch. To me this was the best salad I had compared to the ones I had in Normandy. The service here was impeccable.

Cost of a lunch was around 24E.
La Terrassee du 7eme, Ecole Militaire Metro stop, Telephone #0145550002,

The weather gods were still shining as we left the café for a pleasant walk. We used an ATM and posted some cards. Then we strolled around in a circle ending at the Franprix for water and snacks. It was conveniently located two doors down from our hotel.

We saw that our favorite desk clerk was still on duty. Lucky for her she improved her
disposition somewhat when she checked us in. After unpacking we couldn’t figure out the electrical outlets for our cell phone and camera. We had the proper adaptors and converters to use. The room’s outlets all had a metal insert that prevented us from using them. In Normandy we had encountered no problems so this was strange to us.

After calling the front desk she explained that the hotel provided their own adaptors preventing us from using the ones we had. I could only think that they had many power outages due to people not using the proper equipment in the past and resorted to this policy.

Cosmo went down to see her. When he returned he was ready to check out of the hotel.
She told him the hotel presently had no adaptors available for us. If we were going to use the outlets we needed to go out and buy the ones they had or wait for one to become available. My husband is not a patient individual by nature. If this rude desk clerk was afraid about a fuse blowing, she had no idea she was concerned about the wrong fuse.

I suggested we get outside and forget about her for now. We could deal with her behavior and the outlets when the manager came on duty. He muttered a few Sicilian words to himself as we left the room. In the lift he was still shaking his head and had a few choice words for her. I smiled up at him and asked if he was related to the clerk? He broke a small smile, shook his head, and said ‘fuggedaboutit’.






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