The Cotentin Peninsula

Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
Trip End Aug 17, 2009

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Flag of France  , Normandy,
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I had booked the night online at the "bnb-Normandie" on rue 101eme Airborne months in advance.  Along the way, we went through the town of Avranches and stopped to admire the monument in honour of General Patton.  This is how we would discover many smaller and more personal monuments in France - just by chance!  The Patton monument was one of the most striking I saw in Normandy.  Fitting for one of my favourite Generals!  This afternoon was our first opportunity to really admire the Normandy landscape...the ancient stone walls and houses, hedgerows, lush greenery, grazing cattle and sheep...I could go on and on.  We took our time through the country side, taking secondary country roads, as GPS seemed to always point us in that direction.  We were there to absorb the scenery so that was fine for us.  At one point we ended up at the Hambye Abbey, and looking at the map today, not quite sure how that happened!  We took a few photos from the back but decided not to stay long.  It really was a  beautiful day.  Once we arrived in Carentan, we got into our room, freshened up and decided to go and check out Sainte-Mere-Eglise and have supper there. 

Of course, the main attraction in Sainte-Mere-Eglise was the town church with the memorial stained glass and effigy of American Pararooper John Steele.  It was wonderful to see in person.  I enjoyed this part very much.  There were not a lot of people around so we were lucky to enjoy this at our leisure, taking time to go inside the very old church and walk around quietly.  The Airborne Museum was closed so we decided we would be back in the morning to see this.  We walked along a few of the streets checking out the memorial plaques here and there, reading the menu boards to decide where to eat.  We ate at La Pomme d'Or restaurant and it was enjoyable.  My first slice of Normandy Tarte was very good, while my husband had Camembert for his dessert - also very tasty!

We had a good night's sleep and a delicious breakfast including homemade yogurt and croissants.  Coffee was also very good!  Today, the plan was to go back to Sainte Mere-Eglise and explore the D Day Landing Zones.  We did take some time to poke around "centerville" where the Battle of Carentan would have taken place in June 1944.  Unfortunately, we did not have any particular landmarks memorized or written down so we just wandered a bit.  Some landmarks looked familiar from photos and it was enjoyable to absorb the area, nonetheless.  We picked up some goodies for a picinic lunch from a charcuterie including quiche and a ham crepe (rolled up with cheese) and at a grocery store, baguettes, Camembert cheese and red wine.  We would do this many times over the course of our vacation as we found it to be inexpensive and mostly convenient and enjoyable.  Off toward Sainte Mere-Eglise we go, taking our time to be mindful of the "causeway" leading into the town...this was the route the 101st Airborne took to attack the town.  Of course, on this day we were going in the opposite direction!  At the end of the causeway was the Dead Man's Corner Museum.  We took a look at the artillery pieces found outside the building, and took a look at the gift shop.  Many Airborne / Band of Brothers themed items.  We chose not to spend the time or money on the museum and I have heard it isn't one of the best in the area. 

We spent the morning at the Museum and it was also Market Day!  The town was hopping as compared to the night before.  The Museum was very interesting and well put together- highlights for me included seeing Clark Gable's overcoat and the personal souveniers donated to the Museum, including German Army uniforms.  After that, we took a walk through the market which was held on the town square in front of the Church and across the street from the Museum.  We didn't buy anything - we found that besides food items, there was not anything very "nice".  We already had our picinic lunch lined up and the fruit was very expensive.  Fruit and Vegtables and Meat was very expensive in general in France; Wine and Cheese were dirt cheap!  A little poking around some trinket shops near the square and we were ready to push off towards Utah Beach...
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