A Pont in Every Storm
September 13th, 2007 | Posted by Shannon
It is about seven in the evening on our last night in Normandy; I’m drinking red wine and Colleen is drinking cider – her first and last. The past two days we covered a lot of ground, and I have fallen in love with Normandy.
Colleen summed it up this morning when I was searching for the right word to compare Normandy to the Loire Valley. Normandy is more dramatic. It seems like a different France here and I am completely enthralled. If I were to pick three words for Paris they would be: worldly, hip, exotic. For the Loire: restful, green, majestic. My three words for Normandy: raw, rugged, swarthy. But I can’t stop at just three words so let me just add stark white, deep blue, storybook pretty, war damage ugly, drunken, sated, and sad, all at the same time.
Yesterday we drove south on the coast, playing connect the towns until we reached the D-Day beaches. Yeah, that is one word I forgot above – HISTORY. Sitting on a bunker on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach, eating cheese and drinking wine, it was impossible for me to imagine June 6, 1944 when 14,000 Americans died there – and this was only the first day. I simply could not make it happen in my mind, and I am usually pretty good at imagining horrible things. It is just TOO horrible to think about and this was only one of the beaches… we also went to the American cemetary, a quiet, manicured place on the cliffs overlooking the beach, with row after row of evenly spaced crosses, all in perfect symmetry.
And every French town seems to have it’s memorial to those it lost in both the Great War and World War II. So sad.
So after the beaches we went to Bayeux to see the Bayeux tapestry – a thousand year old strip of cloth telling the tale, through embroidery comic book style, of William the Conquerer’s journey to England where he was crowned king of England. The Normans kicked some ass back in the day, let me tell you.
Today we drove in the opposite direction, north to the seaside towns of Fecamp and Etratat. The cliffs are straight up and down there, and the beaches have plum sized, smooth rocks there, not sand. We went to where they make Benedictine and had a crappy lunch.
I guess if there is one place we have not been very successful in Normandy is the food; but we have been in some pretty touristy towns. The best thing we ate was last night when we got take out from a kebab place here in Honfleur and brought it back to the cottage to eat with a bottle of Cab Franc I picked up in Chinon. Oh well – next time.
And there WILL be a next time. I want to come back here in the winter, when the season is over, when the waves are crashing and storms are coming in off the North Sea, when everything, from the cliffs to the beach stones to the sky and sea, is gray. Someday I will walk that boardwalk at Etratat with no sight of any other person. It’s that kind of place, where you want it to yourself. Paris is not like this. Not to me anyway.
Tomorrow we will be in Senlis, Saturday Paris, for the Techno Parade. Sunday I will be home.