Juno Beach

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, September 2, 2007

We headquartered in Bayeux which is only a few km from the D-Day beaches.
We stayed at a very nice B&B in a converted old manor. Our room seemed to be located where the stables once were. It sounds worse than it was as they have done a wonderful job at renovating and it actually was quite classy.   
Bayeux is also home to the most famous piece of embroidery in history. The Bayeux Tapestry is almost 1000 years old and nearly 70 metres long. Quite impressive. It depicts the tumultuous relationship between King Harold and William the Conquerer around 1066.
The story is told pictorally from a very Norman perspective, but the attention to detail throughout is rather amazing.

The next morning we headed to the Saturday market in the main square. It is a site to see in itself. It seems to go on forever with everything imaginable available.  From purses to produce, from batteries to bunnies, from fly-swatters to fresh fish, they have it all. Pretty impressive for such a small town. 

After lunching on fresh Thai food picked up at the market, we headed to Juno Beach to complete our Canadian military history leg of France. Juno Beach is about a 8km stretch of the coast centred around the town of Courseulles. This is also the location of Canada's Juno Beach Centre. It only opened a couple of years ago so the displays and such are still in good shape and there is a feeling of genuine excitement and pride in the staff. 
The Centre itself is impressively comprehensive. It not only outlines the D-Day events, but also things such as, Canada's Foreign Policy before the war, the troubled times in the post-depression Canadian way of life, and the effect of the debt left over from the first World War. It is well put together. They even have a display case with things that they have found in the water along the beach such as a rifle, a boot, and a few helmets.

The beach outside is also just as impressive. You can still see some of the cement water barriers that the allies put in to make unloading supplies easier.
Right out front of the centre is an old German bunker that is set up overlooking the English Channel. It was a very eerie feeling to stand inside the bunker and just imagine what was going through the minds of the German soldier manning the machine gun as he saw Allied troops rush ashore as far as the eye could see.
Before arriving we imagined a beach front much wider than is present. It is actually only a space of about 40 metres between the water and the German bunkers. Amazing that tens of thousands of troops packed this little space in such a short time.

A site to both see and feel for certain.

After overloading on all the history that we could squeeze into an afternoon, we headed back to our stable room to relax and let it all soak in.  We stopped by the grocery store and picked up some cheese, olives, tomatoes, a fresh baguette, and a bottle of wine. As we began to eat we thought the only thing missing was a little french background music so we both took out our ipods and both put on the "Amelie" soundtrack at the same time. We turned it down in order to be able to converse but it was still nice background music for the evening. We know, a little cheesy, but pleasantly effective.

Not too bad we must say.

Now off to the Loire Valley!
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