Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paris, along the Seine

When we last wrote, we were in Bayeux, France, getting ready to do the D-Day beaches. What a powerful experience. We went to the visitor's center at Omaha Beach, the main American invasion site, and the American cemetery there, nearly 10,000 graves of the young men who died on Omaha Beach during the invasion and in the weeks that followed as they battled the Germans to Paris. So peaceful now. At the visitors center and museum, they had actual film footage of the invasion, and lots of profiles of many who had died there, and videos of remembrances of survivors. It was incredibly moving, as it made so many of those young Marines, soldiers and sailors into individual people for you. We hiked down to the beach (I picked up a small shell to save for you). We ended up spending much of the day there.
Then the next day, we drove the back roads through the countryside where the Allied Forces fought the Germans from 6 June 1944 to 25 July 1944, village to village. 18,000 civilians were killed, and untold thousands of military. Those little villages look today just as they looked then, old stone and brick houses, hundreds and hundreds of years old, and we stopped at several German machine gun emplacements still there, along the roadside, and other spots of interest and historical note. Just as with Omaha Beach, it is so peaceful and beautiful now, it is hard to picture it torn apart by war, although the film clips were there in the museum to prove it.
We came on to Chartres, just outside Paris Friday, the 21st. What a beautiful place. There is a famous cathedral here, one of the major ones in France, built about 1200 a.d., and famous for its' elaborate stained glass windows, which were pretty spectacular. Not only did we get to tour it, but it happened that there was a wedding there today, so we witnessed Cecile and Cedric begin their married life. At first we thought their names were Giselle and Jean, which seems much more romantic, but when the priest pronounced them man and wife, it was clearly Cecile and Cedric, alas. We had dinner at a North African restaurant, lots of those around, as well as Lebanese, and from anywhere the French had a presence in the past as French speaking immigrants from those areas abound. Last night was the last of the Fest de Luminaires, a city-wide light show using the historic cathedral and other buildings of Chartres as backdrop for incredible lights and sound with an historic focus. Also noted the continental style of late evening dinners and promenades,(9-10pm).
We haven't encountered many Americans (US) on this trip at all, well, except for the other morning in a McDonalds in Bayeux while we took advantage of free WiFi and an egg mcmuffin. Not sure if it's the $US dollar problem, if it's France or if it's our travel style. As for " Micky D's" it seems they are the only reliable sites for WiFi. The few cyber cafes we've found are ok, but there is no wireless access, and it's back to "hunt and peck" typing because of a different keyboard configuration. We've also encountered our first "Continental" toilets on this leg of the trip, a hole in the floor, two footprints to place your feet and if you're lucky, a hand bar to hang on to. Good for the lower colon!
Arrived in Paris this afternoon on our first journey without actually getting lost! Straight in and around the "ring" to the campground. Will eat, rest up and venture out to "McDonah" to see if WiFi is alive here, too. They put us in campsites adjoining a lot of Irish Rugby fans and with the championships this week in Paris, we hope to get some good sleep(haha) along with some good stories from the new neighbors.
Happy trails from along the Seine River, tom and nancy

1 comment:

Sean said...

Sounds like a good time with the football players, the weather has gotten wierd here, in the 60's and rain. Not the perfect weather for hanging out by the pool. I dont see many pictures, hope you guys get plenty to show when you get back.