Guest Notes for Episode 116: Normandy WW2 Trip Report

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Phil’s Itinerary on His Latest Visit to Normandy

Tues:
Arrive Paris 7:40am
Rain and bad traffic, blew off Honfleur
Radar Station musee
Juno Beach Center (Canadian Museum)
Drove through Arromanches (Gold Beach)
Check in Hôtel du Casino (Omaha Beach)
Dinner in Bayeux by Cathedral

Wed:
More rainy day…
5-mile run on Omaha Beach (alone)
Breakfast at hotel, checkout
New Overlord Museum inland from Omaha Beach
Drive to Port-en-Bessin for pictures
Visit Bayeux tapestry, walk around Bayeux
Grocery store, then drove to B&B in Ste.-Mère-Église
Drove to Quinèville museum North of Utah Beach
Dinner at Hôtel John Steele around corner from B&B.
It is a wonderful hotel in the center of town dating from 1730. Inside, a beautiful dining room with heavy timbers and stone walls.

Thurs.:
Breakfast at B&B, then to Utah Beach museum. Picnic lunch on Utah North of museum looking out at the ocean
6-mile guided walk in 101st landing area
Dinner in Ste.-Marie-du-Mont across from Church

Friday:
Breakfast at B&B, grocery for picnic supplies.
American cemetery, then picnic on Omaha beach. Flyby by C130, and 2 Apache helicopters.
Drove through country South of beaches through Trèvieres. Monument to lg. airfield (Churchill, Eisenhower, de Gaulle landed here, now nothing but a farm field)
Back to Ste.-Mère-Église, more flyovers.
Dinner in Ravenoville between Ste.-Mère and Utah beach.

Sat:
Dead Man’s Corner museum packed, decided to abandon
Drove down to causeway 1, up coast to Utah beach to coastal block houses. Walked along dunes finding old gun emplacements.
Ste.-Mère-Église for airborne museum and lunch on plaza. Big-wigs and PSDs. Bands, bbq, visited church w/ stained glass.
Evening on the square with vets, military, & families. Fireworks over the church.
Sun:
7:00am to RCPT camp. Briefing then bus to Cherbourg airport. US jets on tarmac.  2nd lift on C-47 to La Fière causeway. Jumped, opened, landed, & on way off LZ, was greeted by WWII Airborne vet & active duty Captain from last night. Clouds cleared and military mass drop on dz. Sunburn. Bus back to RCPT. Dinner in Ste. Marie du Mont.

Mon:
Ceremony on town square with French, U.S., & German military and dignitaries.grocery for picnic lunch, winding drive through countryside to Cherbourg airport. Weather wait, and pilot briefings. Military aircraft.
Took off in T-6, climbed through clouds then in formation with 2 C47s. Sun over drop zone, nice shots, headed back. Clouds over coast, but landed back at airport as 2–3 black hawks were taking off.
Ste.-Mère a little quieter, & some restaurants closed. So drove to up Utah Beach 15 min. to Quinèville to eat and ran into some RCPT jumpers. Last drink in downtown Ste.-Mère before turning in.

Tues:
Early breakfast, check-out, drive to Cherbourg and drop off car. Coffee in café by the port with pleasure craft in thick fog.
Despite strike, SNCF train left on time.
Arr. Gare St. Lazare, walked Blvd Hausmann to brasserie for lunch.
Check in to hotel (6–8 blocks from train), wash up then head to St. Chappelle for concert. Forgot tickets, half way there returned. Security line not long. Beautiful chapel. Concert a little disappointing. Showmanship, fast renditions, director/violinist tried to act like “made for TV” anointed virtuoso. Very capable playing though. Walked off stage during piece, “dramatic” re-entry, took music stands from players and led them off in different directions. People clapped between movements. Next time I’ll go to another concert less geared towards dramatically entertaining the tourists.
Walked to ND, then back to hotel via Palais Royale at twilight. Tripped and sprained wrist bad.

Wed:
Nice Weather (threat of thunderstorm never came). Breakfast at hotel, walked towards the river via two covered passages (Panoramas and Vivienne) and Palais Royale. Maybe trash is on strike? Over Pont des Arts to little roads in left bank. Back to ND for pics. Unfortunately, deportation memorial closed due to security.  Across to Isle St. Louis, and coffee at café. Walked through the Marais district and tried to find the oldest house (couldn’t). Walked back through to Place des Vosges. Picked up glacier en route and sat and enjoyed the park.
Long walk to Canal St. Martin, then back roads to café in 10th? Arrondissement for lunch. 2 blocks later many cafés at Rue René Boulanger (curvy pedestrian-only road roughly parallel to Blvd. Saint-Martin).
Dropped off camera bag at hotel and checked in to airline. Went back out to Passage Jouffroy & Verdeau. To café on Blvd. Montmartre near hôtel. Just people watching (& traffic), & soaking up the sighted and sounds on my last night in France. Several times saw small squads of fully equipped para-military. Larger units and better equipped (i. e. armed) than any you’d “see” in the states.
Dinner at active Café near my hotel. Watched sunset from small balcony off my room.

Thurs:
Early check-out, stopped for coffee and croissant en route. Walked to Opera to get Roissy Bus to CDG.

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Normandy & Brittany