Day 546 – Bayeux – 30 Aug 11
For photos see www.eastmidlandsdea.co.uk
Made it safely to Honfleur. Or sort of!. Straightforward trip to Portsmouth to catch the LD boat. First on and first off! Got lost in Le Havre but the Sat Nav got us out of it and we found the campsite OK after going over the Pont De Normandie (€3.90) and through the cobbled streets of Honfleur to the site. Thanks Bill and Sue for the instructions.
Walked into the town. Excellent atmosphere packed with people eating and strolling. Had a few vin blancs with some moules and frites. Then an early night as we had been up at 0500.
Walked round Honfleur this morning and made a quick trip to Lidl to check out the vino. Started raining so we are camped out in the wag, planning the trip to Bayeux and our sorties to the WW2 beaches.
Very wet night with thunderstorms until the early hours. Lucky we parked at one end of the pitch as the trailer was in 3 inches of water by morning. The van would have been sunk! That's the problem with grass pitches when one has a heavy van. If we had detached Smartie it would have been very difficult to re-attach in the mud.
Left early and used the Autoroute straight to Le Puits. Oo-er – what an unusual site. Just about empty in mid-August – odd! Nice, friendly chap greeted us but a bit fussy. You’d think 50 wags were arriving as he made a great performance over siting us. There are only 2 other pitches occupied!
Anyway, we got set up and go to Bayeux tomorrow.
Slighty false alarm. Went to the camp bar and found a group of fellow campers huddled together sheltering from the rain. Mine host ‘Peter’ served wine and cider whilst ‘Mrs’ cooked frites. He then player 60’s tunes on his organ. People did say the campsite does get busy but we see no evidence of that yet.
Drove to Bayeux – about 35 mins on completely rural roads. As usual no traffic except the odd tractor. However Bayeux was busy and took some searching to find a parking slot – but free so no problem. Spent a couple of hours viewing the Tapestry which was educational and impressive. (€7.60). Question is : Did Harold escape the battle – in the last tableau he is seen running off the field with an arrow in his eye and the final panels have since gone missing. Seems he was a bit of a lad and William the Bastard only invaded because Harold went back on an oath to let William be king, as Edward the Confessor requested.
Then a Noddy train around the town and lunch in the sunshine. The Cathedral is very impressive from the exterior but Carole says it was ordinary inside. There’s also a large war cemetery here.
The short changing has already begun. A grocer on the market in Bayeux tried to give Carole change for €5 instead of €10. Don’t these idiots realise the long term damage they do themselves with short term greed. No more market shopping for us. We’ll stick with Lidl. Speaking of which we found the most underused Lidl in Europe. Very difficult to find and inside there were more staff than customers. It was a job to get someone to check us out! Weird! But we got our Spanish vino.
Still very wet but we risked a 50 mile drive down the Autoroute to Le Mont St Michel. Very impressive sight from around 15 kms away. Odd, but the closer one gets, the less impressive it becomes. One can see the scaffolding and building work – however it is a good place to visit. A really marvellous piece of design and construction when you imagine how they dragged millions of pieces of stone across the land and sea to this location and THEN built the abbey itself. Amazing. I bet we couldn’t do it today!
There were hundreds of Motorhomes parked in the sunny car park (€6 and €12 for MHs). Smartie drove OK but shudders at 95 kph. Have to stay in the slow lane. In the Camp Bar ce soir, after a BBQ, we met 2 couples who had just been to the next 2 campsites we are heading for. Spooky coincidence. Speaking of spooky, I was awoken on night one at about 1 am to the sound of singing in the distance. All the lights at the house were out and the campsite quiet. The singing was a rendition of an old wartime song ‘ inky pinky parlez-vous’ sung by a group of men, perhaps at a soldiers concert party. I wasn’t dreaming and am not given to imaginings like this. It went on like this for some time. I mentioned it to the owner and his wife and he came up with half a dozen other examples of unexplained ghostly happenings at the site. Many, many soldiers of both sides died here in 1944 during heavy fighting for St Martin Des Besaces. Odd.:Eek!:
2 days in the rain in the van and Carole is getting stir crazy. So we were relieved to see the sun out and were able to troll around the North of Normandy for the day visiting various WW2 museums and memorials. Started off in Arromanches at the 6 Jun 44 museum (€6) which explained in great detail how the Mulberry Harbour system was devised and constructed shortly after the initial 6 June landings. It was an incredible achievement driven by Churchill and the finished product was extremely impressive. It allowed the logistic train to rumble on after the front line troops. Without it the invasion would have been doomed. Just think of Dunkirk.
Then a 45 minute drive to Pegasus bridge and the museum (€5). The first man killed on D-Day fell here. Carole was most impressed and the exhibits are first class – especially the Bailey Bridge and the Glider. Didn’t see Richard Todd though.:Wink:
Next was the vitally important German Gun Battery at Merville (€4) which was destroyed by Col Otway and the remains of his Paras. Only 150 out of 600 men dropped into marshes in error by Dakotas survived to attack the battery and only 69 stood unhurt by the end of the fighting. Superb.
Back to Arromanches to see the Mulberry Harbour when the tide was out. Carole couldn’t work out how the concrete floated across the channel! Of course, 50% of it did sink in the storms and the US harbour at Omaha was destroyed in the storms of 19-22 June.
Back to the wag for yet more Moules and Frites and today (30th) we are packing up for our move south into the Loire tomorrow.
PS: For all our readers: Biff and Erica from Australia are returning to Europe in November so we should see them in Cabopino at Christmas time. Great news.
All for now
Take care on those streets,
M and D
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