Trip Report Normandy and Paris, Episode 101


Letitia Guy in front of the Eiffel Tower



Trip Report Normandy and Paris

On this trip report Letitia tells us about her first trip to France and outside of the USA. She was part of a big group who came to France to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Their group stayed in Granville as their home-base and went around to visit different places around Normandy.

Places mentioned on the show: Sainte-Mère-Église, Granville, Mont-Saint-Michel, Omaha Beach, American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer


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Trip Report Normandy and Paris

Mont-Saint-Michel

To visit the Mont-Saint-Michel, Letitia and her group were dropped off near the access road and walked a short way (visitors cannot drive any closer) and they were given a specific amount of time before they had to be back in the bus. As a result she didn’t have the time to walk all the way to the Abbey. Keep in mind that it takes a long time to get to the top on a crowded day! But she will visit again in October, she will take the time then.

Mont Saint Michel photo Joan Campderrós-i-Canas
Photo Joan Campderrós-i-Canas

Food at the Mont-Saint-Michel

There are many local specialties you can enjoy at the Mont-Saint-Michel. One is the Moules à la Crême and the other the Omelettes. The Moules à la Crême are served in a special pot with bread and a side of fries. It is absolutely delicious and very filling. Another specialty are the omelets which are wonderful but often serve undercooked with runny egg (omelette baveuse) and can be a bit much even for Annie who is French. See the French Tip of the Week below on how to ask for a well-cooked omelet.

Omaha Beach and American Cemetery

Letitia participated in the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and really enjoyed it. She reports seeing more American flags in Normandy than she has ever seen anywhere she’s lived!

There are three French villages along “Omaha Beach”: Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer (where daily remembrances are held), Colleville-sur-Mer (where the American Cemetery is) and Vierville-sur-Mer.

Letitia was also very impressed by the American Cemetery, she wasn’t sure which one she visited. It could have been Colleville-sur-Mer or Saint James. Annie also recommends visiting the German Cemetary in Normandy, it is also a sobering experience.

American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, Coleville-sur-Mer
American Cemetery at Coleville-sur-Mer photo Letitia.
Visit to Paris

Letitia walked a lot in Paris, she wasn’t sure she was brave enough to use the Métro, but she walked everywhere. She visited the Louvre, Notre Dame, played boules (or pétanque) with a friendly French person at the Jardin des Tuilleries, took a ride on the Bateaux Mouches. In the Louvre it is vital to pick a piece or two that you want to see and just go for those. Letitia wanted to see the renovated appartments of Napoleon III and her niece wanted to see the Mona Lisa, so they did both and tried not to get to get too distracted along the way. Use the website for the Louvre to help you narrow down what you’d like to see. She also enjoyed the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero even though they couldn’t go up the tower as a large group due to renovations and doing it individually would have taken too long.

View from Tour Montparnasse
View from Tour Montparnasse, photo Letitia.
Food Letitia Enjoyed in Paris

Croque Monsieur, crême brulée, crêpes, café crême. Here are the different types of coffee you will commonly find in France:

  1.  Café: this is about 1/4 cup or less of espresso and is served with one stick of granulated sugar.
  2. Café Américain: this is an espresso with hot water added to it. It’s possibly 1/2 cup, but no more. Also served with one sugar.
  3. Café crême: one espresso with a couple of tablespoons of frothed milk, served with one sugar.
  4. Café au lait: one shot of espresso served with 1/2 cup of warm milk and one sugar. This is probably the closest thing to a Late you will find in France, but much smaller.
  5. Noisette: one shot of espresso with a tiny bit of cold milk, served with one sugar. It is called “noisette” because of the hazelnut color.
View from the Seine towards Notre Dame at sunset
View from the Seine towards Notre Dame at sunset. Photo Letitia Guy.
Why It Is Best to “Do” France on Your Own

Letitia visited in a big group which was probably best because she was coming to the 70th Anniversary of D-Day which was mobbed and very hard to do any other way. But, if you listen to her story she missed out on a lot of things due to group constraints. Not enough time to walk to the Abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel, not enough time to go up the Eiffel Tower, the group went to Bayeux but there wasn’t enough time to see the tapestry. She will have a chance to go back and do those things, but it’s a shame she couldn’t the first time around even though she wanted to.

[1:00:15] French Tip of the Week

Sometimes French restaurants serve omelets undercooked. This is especially true in Normandy where they think that’s how it’s supposed to be done. I totally object to that notion, so I will tell you how to ask for your omelet to be fully cooked. You could say “je veux mon omelette bien cuite” or “je n’aime pas l’omelette baveuse”.

Mont-St-Michel photo Letitia
Photo Letitia.

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2 thoughts on “Trip Report Normandy and Paris, Episode 101”

  1. Annie and Letitia,

    We loved this episode. I was very excited about her plans to return to France.

    Letitia mentioned a stay in Bayeux. We spent a bit of time there this fall and have some specific recommendations.

    As she likes to eat nice things I can whole heartedly recommend Chez Paulete. This very sweet little cafe is located right in front of the Bayeux Cathedral.mthe decor is funky eclectic. The food is simple, well prepared and fresh. The restaurant is run by two women who own it and they were very friendly. The menu changes according to what is fresh. The deserts were super. It was a very nice place to sit in the window and watch the action in front of the cathedral. Just to the left of this cafe as you face away from the cathedral is a very nice curio shop run by more very friendly folks. The woman makes art full sewn items and the shop is filled with unusual items. I picked up a nice antique post card.
    Second is Rene Matilde. One of the best patisserie I have ever been in. Super friendly staff and the coffee and pastries were top drawer. We went here twice in one morning because it was awesome.

    The weekly farmers market was incredible. Cider, bread, cheese, fruit, pottery, woodwork and ready to eat food. Tons of people to watch. The vendors were EXTREMELY friendly. In October the cider should be rocking so a great time to be there. So if you can arrange your stay to be there when this market is held we highly recommend it.

    Letitia mentioned she would not rent a car. After visiting Normandy a few times I would highly recommend renting a car. Even given the parking and the rental process I strongly feel it is the best way to see things in Normandy. The driving is pretty easy and straight forward. Ther are several car rentals right by the Caen train station so it is super easy.
    Thanks for the great episode. I loved Letitia ‘s awesome accepting and friendly approach to travel.

    Thanks Again,
    Randy

  2. Letitia,
    I enjoyed your podcast, especially since I’m traveling solo to Paris in September! It’s evident that you enjoy connecting with people and I wanted to share some of the treasures I’ve come across.

    If you’re intrigued by sharing a meal in French home check out Voulez Vous Diner or Eat With.

    Also check out greeters.paris
    Paris Greeters are volunteer, passionate ambassadors who warmly receive their visitors from around the world.
    They propose walks free of charge in Paris and surrounding districts. Each encounter between a Greeter and his visitor is a unique experience: sharing this world renowned city but, also, discovering someone else and a different culture. It is the occasion to see Paris as it is really known by its locals, to discover neighborhoods that visitors would not have imagined or dared to visit.

    Have Fun!
    Marian

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