Paris & Normandy — Day Nine

The saga continues.

What the first eight days may have lacked in adventure, we made up for today. We were up and moved out of our apartment by nine AM. Off to Gare St Lazare to catch our train to Caen.

This leg of our trip has had ill omens from the beginning.  On our first evening here we went to Gare Montparnasse to purchase these and other tickets. The very patient ticket seller spent nearly a half hour, working discounts and combos. Sister-in-Law was handling the transaction as this was her job in our division of labor. I noticed the fares and timetables did not seem to be what I had seen on line, but I kept my mouth shut, until the vendor wrote the destination on one of the ticket envelopes, not CAEN, but CANNES? Oops! I pointed out the error and the vendor patiently reissued the correct tickets and demonstrated to SIL the proper way to pronounce the two very different cities.

After all that, the train ride to Caen was pleasant and uneventful. We located the National car rental agency. We picked up our Citeron car and directions to our first stop — Bayeux. Then the fun began.

I drove while SIL and BIL navigated. Just getting out of Caen was a nightmare. At one point I’m pretty sure I drove down a section of street reserved for trolleys. We took the wrong entrance ramp to a limited access highway and drove 20 km out of town in the wrong direction before we were able to get turned around. Five or six wrong turns later and we were finally on the highway to Bayeux, leaving five or six years of my life in the rearview mirror.

We had lunch in Bayeux and then made our way to the American Cemetary at Omaha Beach.


Bayeux Cathedral

As it was at my last visit here in April 2011, it was very moving. 


Some of our merry band in the cemetary

Our original plan was to move on to Vierville-sur-Mer to locate the stretch of beach where Mrs Poolman’s and SIL’S father landed with the 116th Infantry Regiment in the second wave in D-Day. We were also going to stop at Point du Hoc. However, others in our party lost interest and wanted to get on to Mont St Michel.

What was left of my driving patience disappeared when we were driving down a narrow Normandy lane with close hedgerows on both sides and a cement mixer roared around a blind curve with his left wheels well on our side of the road. We escaped, but the right side of our car was in the bushes. I’m glad I got the damage collision waiver when we rented the car.

The rest of the trip to MSM was uneventful. We checked into our hotel on the island and had a nice dinner. We took a walk out to catch some night photos from the causeway.


On to bed. Tomorrow is intended for sightseeing at Mont St Michel.


5 responses to “Paris & Normandy — Day Nine

  1. “Five or six wrong turns later and we were finally on the highway to Bayeux, leaving five or six years of my life in the rearview mirror.”

    LOVE IT! It’s all about the journey, not the destination, right? But I bet there was a much enjoyed glass of wine at the destination…!!

    Glad to hear things are going well – I need to go back and read a few entries I missed from Paris!!

  2. Nice post, interestingly, my grandfather is also buried at this cemetery, I’ll have to confirm details, but 116th Infantry Regiment rings a bell

    • The 116th was the initial assault regiment of the 29th Infantry Div on the western (right) side of Omaha Beach. Most of the soldiers depicted in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan were from the 116th. (Yes. I know the movie is fiction. But it fairly accurately depicts a real event.) Glad he lived long enough to father your mother or father.

      For more info check Stephen Ambrose’s “D-Day, the climactic battle of world war II”

  3. That just means you had an adventure and are five or six years closer to retirement, Dad. Awesome.

  4. I believe he was specifically depicted in Saving Private Ryan, 116th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, E Regiment, Captain Laurence Madill, hence my name

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