Twelve years ago I spent a couple days in Bayeux during a solo trip to France, and I was curious to see if any of the town would look familiar. We started our sight-seeing by biking into town to see the Bayeux cathedral. It’s an impressive structure, visible from miles around with its tall, thin spires. I definitely remember the cathedral and its colorful stained glass windows and lofty vaulted ceilings. The rest of the town is less familiar, but no less scenic. We walked and biked around a bit before finding a sidewalk cafe to have a long lunch.
The next day we spent the morning in a nearby laundromat and worked on blog posts. Then we rode our bikes to the nearby town of Arromanches to see the remains of the artificial harbor that was built there by the Allied forces during the invasion of Normandy. It’s still amazing to see the large blocks of the artificial breakwater that form an incomplete semi-circle around the town. If I could travel back to any point in history, I think I’d like to see the staggering collection of machines and manpower deployed for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. As long as I wasn’t struggling up the beaches under enemy gunfire, that is. After some crepes for lunch we biked back to Bayeux, enjoying the lovely sunny weather and the bright yellow fields of blooming canola plants.
Today we left Bayeux, but not before a visit to the former German gun battery at Longues-sur Mer. There were several heavily fortified concrete bunkers with large artillery guns as well as a command post bunker overlooking the coastline. Surprisingly, as sturdy as these fortifications appear, they were knocked out of commission and surrendered to the Allied forces within a couple days of the D-Day invasion.
We then stopped for a visit to the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. The cemetery is a beautiful memorial to the troops who were killed in Europe during WWII. I remember stopping here on my last visit to Normandy a dozen years ago. It’s still humbling to walk among the silent rows of crosses (and stars of David) and think of the sacrifices made by our troops, past and present.