The family trip to the Normandy region of France was a huge success. We left Friday morning, driving all the way to Bayeux, a small and well-preserved French village close to the coast and all the WWII historical beach sites. We drove via the Eurotunnel, which goes under the English Channel, in our little rented Vauxhall Zafira. Oh how I loved this little people mover. If the steering wheel were on the other side I would steal it back with me to Minnesota.
The Eurotunnel was an interesting adventure. Basically, you drive your car onto a huge tube (think subway) train, and hang out while it takes you under the channel, and you pop out 35 minutes later in France. Where the fun really starts - driving your British car, steering wheel on the right side, on the right side of the rode. We survived both my and Dan's driving to arrive in Bayeux later that evening. Our hotel, the Reine Mathilde was old and lovely, small and charming. Our family foursome has arrived to a new milestone - we were all able to sleep in the same hotel room, actually getting to sleep at a decent hour, and the children sleeping well. Elliot on the floor, Q in bed with Dan & I. No french romance for us!
We awoke to stunning Bayeux in the daylight, quaint and very small village France. We had a magnificent view of the Notre Dame Cathedral right across the street. We also awoke to Quinton's diarrhea, which I will only say made the couple days a little more interesting. Fortunately his ailments didn't affect his mood or much of his energy for site seeing for the next couple of days.
The highlights of this trip are innumerable. The WWII sites were moving and made both my heart and stomach hurt. I will be forever indebted to my father, because without his desire to see this region of France I may have never gone. My enthusiasm to learn more about D-Day has been ignited a bit, I will need to do some more reading and movie watching. The most memorable sites of this nature were the American cemetery and memorial on Omaha Beach, and the battle site of Pont Du Hoc also along Omaha Beach.
We also took in much less depressing and somber activities. We frolicked on the most interesting beach at Port en Bassin - I never imagined the sheer number of clamshells crammed between the rocks at low tide could exist. We collected a few pretty ones to keep. Lunch that day consisted of huge dishes of "moules-frites" for Dan & I - mussels steamed in white wine and garlic sauce and served with fries. YUM. And by this point I was feeling quite sexy speaking my French - even though it only consisted of good day, goodbye, good night, please, thank you and a few others. Imagine the vixen I could be if I learned more!
The boys were phenomenal, coming along, enjoying the activities and enduring the car rides without a peep. Elliot (insert choirs of angels singing here) tried and enjoyed a bunch of new foods, including mussels, avocado and raw sliced tomato, which has been rejected in the past.
My parents had their own version of French culture shock. They remarked on the narrow streets, and differences in European restaurant service. Mom & I thoroughly enjoyed the shopping. Dad had his first tiny cup of French espresso, you can only imagine his reaction. Stay tuned for Dan's blog which will probably have a nice shot of Dad and his dainty little cup.
We ended our touring on the way home Monday by breakfasting in Honfleur, a gorgeous little fishing village. On the way out we crossed the Seine via the Pont du Normandie - a huge suspension bridge that is truly a brilliant feat of civil engineering. If I was not driving I would have had my eyes closed, as it felt a little too much like driving up into nothing way too many feet about the famous river.
We arrived back in London, exhausted and thrilled to see our flat. "We're home!" we exclaimed. I guess it's all relative - it only takes a few days in France to make London feel like home.