Normandy in September
Trip Start May 19, 2008
50Trip End Ongoing
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We spent the weekend walking around Rouen's historic Old Town. Gazed at the towering facades of the city's plentiful cathedrals, stepped inside and admired stained glass, organ concerts, and delicate stone detail. The sun shown through the tinted glass in St. Ouen, and it collected on the floor like a puddle of watercolors.
On Tuesday we left the city with a rental car, and began the drive toward St. Malo. Kyle sped along the unfamiliar highways, and got us there with no problems. The scenery along the way ranged from quaint to gorgeous. Around 2 pm we were all feeling a bit hungry, so we stopped at a small town and walked the main street looking for a place to eat. It wasn't until this point that we realized most cafes, restaurants, and shops close after the normal lunch hour of 11:00-1:30. (Most re-open later in the afternoon) But we were lucky to find a bar serving galettes. Galettes are similar to crepes, but more flour based, than egg. We ate those up quickly and continued on our way.
On a scenic route, we passed fields of leeks that lighted scented the coastal air. Road-side vendors sold braids of cascading garlic, handfuls of exotic mushrooms, and buckets of mussels. Sunshine and lazy blue skies led us in the direction of sunflower fields and ditches of wildflowers. As we got our first glimpse of the Ocean, we parked the car and followed the locals down to the shore. The beach grasses bled into patchy sand and then a long stretch of shells. They crunched like potato chips under our shoes. We filled our pockets with the best-looking ones and squinted out into the distance where the tide rolled even farther out.
We arrived in the ancient walled-city of St. Malo in the late afternoon. After checking into our charming hostel, we strolled along the promenade, admiring the beach and picturesque buildings facing the sea. We entered into the walled-in core of the city, and enjoyed cobblestone roads, trendy shops and restaurants. At several points, narrow, stone steps allow you to climb to the top of the wall and enjoy the view. We walked along the wall before deciding on a place to eat. After wine and 3 courses of delectable foods, we walked on back to the hostel.
The next day, we drove from St. Malo to Mt. St. Michel. This misty and magical place seemed to be the destination of many travelers. We walked from the parking lot to the "mound" which houses a miniature town of touristy shops and small hotels, all below the perfect placement of a church with cloud-piercing spires. (It is free to enter the mound (on foot only), parking was about 4 euros, and if you wish to enter the church, you will need to purchase a ticket.) The interior of the church was stone, dimly lit, and not too dazzling. But the views of the ocean, that sometimes surround the mound, were crystal clear and unobstructed. Aqua blue swirls rippled over flats of sand and smaller, distant mounds.
We continued on to Bayeux, a city known for its famous historical tapestry. We familiarized ourselves with this little city by walking around, visiting the tourist info, and dinning out in the evening. The next day mom and dad visited the tapestry museum while Kyle and I walked through the streets one last time. And I'd like to note that Kyle had Kebab for lunch, once again.
From Bayeux, we drove to The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on Omaha Beach. This beautiful and peaceful place honors the near 10,000 American lives that were lost in WWII.
We hurried to get back to Rouen by 6:00 to return the rental car. But in a last minute attempt to fill the gas tank, a young man who wishes to remain nameless, filled the tank with the wrong kind of fuel. Luckily, the man working at the car rental came to our aid and sucked the wrong gas out, put the new gas in, and stayed open late to make sure we got things corrected without having to pay for additional day's charge. French people are friendly and helpful, so don't go thinking they aren't.
And we learned the lesson, that sometimes at the end of a tricky situation...all you can say is "C'est la vie."