Normandy + Bretagne, FR

What a weekend. It was my first real “vacation” or “petit-weekend” since being in Paris. It was strange for me because for the first time, when leaving Paris, I felt like I was leaving my home.

I got an early start on Saturday morning and met the rest of my group members by bus at the Bastille. We drove for hours through the country side before reaching our first destination, Caen. The countryside of France is absolutely magnificent. I can’t compare it to anything in the USA. It is greener, the farms have smaller quantities of animals, the cottages stand tall in great condition, the fruit stands along the side of the road tie the ambiance all together.

We visited Caen for a background/refreshment on WWII. We would be visiting sites all weekend and it was very helpful for me to get a refresher course, and specifically focus on areas that I would be visiting over the weekend. The Caen Peace Memorial was incredible and thorough. The most unique part of the museum was a black and white silent video shown before entering. It was 15 minutes of footage of the Americans preparing for the Battle of Normandy. For me, it was never before seen footage that really made me feel astonished and proud.

After the memorial, we drove to the American cemetery. It was incredibly foggy out, so the sensation was a bit different. It was humbling and chilling to see the rows of tombstones, but I can’t imagine how somber I would feel if the fog had cleared and I would be able to see the acres upon acres of tombs.

imageA map of the plan of attack on beaches of Normandyimage

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We then took our next drive to Omaha Beach. This is the first beach to be attacked on D-Day, June 6th 1944. The fog did not let up, which kept the eerie feel going.

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Although not a history aficionado, I couldn’t help but be fascinated with the sheer genius that went into this attack. It is absolutely incredible. I think the most interesting part is the geography of the land. The attack was a complete secret from the Germans, and the Germans thought that we would attack at the shortest part of the English channel. They were wrong. We attacked at a rugged, cliffy, dangerous and risky area, and we won.

imageSands of Omaha Beach

The next stop, although still a WWII site, was a bit more lighthearted in nature. Pointe du Hoc, is a sort of interactive area where you are able to climb in and out of the massive craters left by bombs. It was contrasted next to the beautiful ocean with seagulls chirping in the air.

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imageFor size scaling, that me in the bottom of the crater!

imageQuite difficult to get out…image

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imageSmall snail in a wall of bunkerimage

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After a few hours drive, we reached St. Malo, my favorite destination of the weekend. An old pirates town, it is surrounded by walls, almost like a fortress. Nowadays, there are cobblestone streets, restaurants that boast “vin chaud” or “hot wine”, creperies on every corner and a whole lot of charm.

That night, I went for a fabulous dinner with my roommate to L’Ancrage. I have reviewed it on my food blog. It was three courses of fabulous.

The next morning I woke up early to walk around the fortified walls of the fortress. The smell of ocean salt water, the sound of seagulls, the crisp air was all perfect.

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imageOf course, I loved the name of this rue—the cat who dances.image

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St. Malo was exquisite and I will be back! We then drove to Mont St. Michael which was back in the direction of Paris. It was a short drive to this touristic island. The island is best known for the Monetary that sits above the island dating back to the 4th century. St. Michael is the Saint who waits at the doors of heaven, only appropriate as this structure is way above the ground, in the sky. It is quite interesting because there are only certain times of day you can get to the island because of the tides and the quick sand.

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imageLove this color combinationimageA sweet little boy carrying baguettes in both handsimage

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imageSharing vin chaud and galletesimageimage

This weekend was extraordinary. I learned so much about the history of the country that I am currently living and in, and so much of my own country’s’ history. I also had the chance to see the French countryside which was beautiful. Of course, the salted caramels, crepes and vin chaud didn’t hurt either.

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