Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Northwest Region of France

This structure was part of a
farmhouse outside a village
in Northwest, France
...I'm sure there
is historical significance...everywhere
in France, you see wonderful ancient
architecture with great stories.
Last Friday, we took off for France from our flat in Antwerp, heading in the direction of Normandy to visit the American Cemetery and Memorial above Omaha Beach in the Northwest Region of France.  It was a gorgeous drive through rolling hills with cathedrals peaking up above villages scattered along the countryside.  We saw farmlands and ancient abbeys, gothic architecture, and lovely little villages.  We took the scenic route and tried to stay off the main highways as much as possible.  We're lucky that the company my husband works for has supplied us with a fabulous BMW touring car...so believe me, it's a comfy ride wherever we travel these days!  They don't call it a 'driving machine' for nothing.  The Northwest region includes Brittany, Normandy and Loire.  Our focus was on Normandy in hopes of getting as far as the cathedral, Mont St. Michel.  We didn't make it all the way, or we did, but it was just too dark to get any good pictures by the time we came upon -- what to me -- was one of the most incredible sights, a magnificant castle on top of a mountain right out on the water, as if suspended in the sky.  I hope to go back one day and take the full tour.  Always good to have a reason to return.  We spent most of Saturday winding along the coast and stopping to see each of'the battle sites from the Normandy Invasion during WWII.  This is the kind of roadtrip that husbands love.  But, I have to tell you, I was totally caught off guard by how emotional I felt the whole day.  Especially when we visited the American Cemetery and Memorial.  It was hard to believe that such a peacful place had seen such a horrible battle and that so many soldiers died on that beach that day.  There are 9,387 American soldiers buried at the cemetery and 307 unknown soldiers.  We walked the grounds and visited the memorial buildings which have wonderful tribute films and heroic stories about soldiers who faught valiently for freedom that day...freedom for our country and for France and for those who were being oppressed and murdered by an insane leader in Germany.  The thing that struck me, was how young the soldiers were and how scared they must have been coming in on those boats, with no way of knowing what they were in for...and their commanding officers having to move forward knowing full-well what was in store, to begin the march to Germany...to put an end to the evil that had gone on too long.




So many died right here





Pathway down to Omaha Beach

One of the headstones for
an Unknown Soldier

Hard to believe such a peaceful place
witnessed such horrors during
WWII











































We stayed in a lovely little town called Caen in an ancient smallish chateau that had been renovated and decorated with modern, hip sensibilities.  It was a place I knew my daughter the interior designer and her architect husband would absolutely adore.  We felt pretty cool, and even a little hip.  The restaurant's chef has cooked for heads of state from around the world.  To say the least, we had the dinner of our lives....unbelievable.  I wish I could remember the name of the champagne we had with our dinner, it was almost peach in color and so smooth and dry, I thought I'd died and gone to French heaven.  The hotel was called Ivan Vautier Hotel (yes, the chef was Ivan and yes, he was very French and sexy).  It was a lovely time and a wonderful trip, emotional, moving and worth every mile.  This week...The Netherlands...to be continued.  My life on the lane is all winding and exploring and learning and experiencing these days, and I'm just enjoying the ride.  Au Revoir!




I think I took this photo in the village of
Colleville-sur-Mer, not far from
Normandy

Every cathedral is a beautiful
architectural tribute to the
heavens above

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