We wake up on a beau­ti­ful sun­ny day in the par­king lot in front of the Pla­ge du Butin. We spend the mor­ning visi­ting Hon­fleur, a delight­ful Cal­va­dos town, loca­ted on the mouth of the Sei­ne. We take a walk down to the quaint har­bor, con­ti­nuing along the nar­row and gra­ce­ful stree­ts of the Old Town. We note many art stu­dios and venues whe­re to enjoy crê­pes and other local spe­cial­ties. I look down at the ten-cen­tu­ry Lieu­te­nan­ce buil­ding loca­ted at the entran­ce of the har­bor, the for­mer seat of the town admi­ni­stra­tion and the ancient gate of the town, now being resto­red.

The cheer­ful lit­tle har­bor of Hon­fleur

After fil­ling the tank, we head towards the coa­stli­ne whe­re the histo­ric lan­ding in Nor­man­dy — the so-cal­led D‑Day — took pla­ce. Along the road, we stop at Le Four­nil de Béner­vil­le, a pret­ty bou­lan­ge­rie-cake shop that attrac­ts our atten­tion by the way the tables and the out­door ben­ches are built with whi­te pain­ted pal­le­ts. As we have seen two years ago on the trip to Pro­ven­ce, we note that most peo­ple, even young peo­ple, do not speak a sin­gle word of English. They often under­stand it but answer exclu­si­ve­ly in French.

Con­ti­nuing on our iti­ne­ra­ry, down the D27 we are attrac­ted by a buco­lic cor­ner in the coun­try­si­de: a tree-lined sho­re on a stream with gra­zing cows on the oppo­si­te side. We feel the urge for a rege­ne­ra­ting stop, bathe in fresh and trans­pa­rent water and clin­ging to the sun.

Break by the river in the Cal­va­dos coun­try­si­de

Exploration of the D‑Day sites

We resu­me with a vigo­rous cof­fee — the van is equip­ped with a mini-moca — and let’s go, now clo­se to the area we intend to explo­re today. The cros­sing of the Pega­sus Brid­ge, just befo­re the vil­la­ge of Bénou­vil­le, bring us back to more than half a cen­tu­ry ago. The grip of this retrac­ta­ble brid­ge, built by Gusta­ve Eif­fel in 1871, allo­wed the cros­sing of allied troops coming from the sea. In 1994, the ori­gi­nal brid­ge was repla­ced by a wider and more modern ver­sion (the ori­gi­nal is expo­sed in the Mémo­rial Pega­sus park).

From here in 40 minu­tes we arri­ve at Arro­man­ches-les Bains. From the pla­teau over­loo­king the coa­st are visi­ble con­cre­te blocks in the water, not far from the beach, what remains of the arti­fi­cial har­bor built during the World War II. The bright colors of the sea and the beach, which today seems a quiet and plea­sant pla­ce, con­tra­st with the idea of the even­ts that took pla­ce here. Befo­re lea­ving, in the intent to visit the D‑Day bea­ches with grea­ter aware­ness, we wat­ched the Nor­man­dy Sur­vi­ving D‑Day docu­men­ta­ry and the Ste­ven Spiel­berg Saving Pri­va­te Ryan movie, which resu­mes the even­ts that hap­pe­ned on the­se bea­ches.

The beach with pre­fa­bri­ca­ted har­bor remains in front of Arro­man­ches-les-Bains

Our next step is the Ger­man bat­te­ries of Lon­gues-sur-Mer: the rein­for­ced con­cre­te struc­tu­res are well-resi­zed struc­tu­res in the coun­try­si­de, still equip­ped with can­nons desi­gned to hit  tar­ge­ts up to 20 km away.

The bat­te­ries of Lon­gues-sur-Mer camou­fla­ged in the coun­try­si­de near the coa­st

Along the way we noti­ce road­si­gns poin­ting to the “Fer­me Félí­cí­té: pom­meau, cidre, cal­va­dos”. Curious from the start of the holi­day of tasting the cider, fer­men­ted apple jui­ce cha­rac­te­ri­stic of Nor­man­dy, we fol­low the signs and shor­tly we find our­sel­ves in the gar­den of a local pro­du­cer who wel­co­mes us into his “shop” by tasting the three dif­fe­rent types of cider he pro­du­ces: dry, semi-dry and sweet. The fla­vor ini­tial­ly reminds us of beer but with a remar­ka­bly frui­ty note. We buy a box of six mixed cider bot­tles (€ 16.30).

Over­view of the dif­fe­rent pro­duc­ts obtai­ned from the apple at the small local firm Fer­me Félí­cí­té

The next and last stop of our iti­ne­ra­ry is the Ame­ri­can ceme­te­ry in Col­le­vil­le-sur-Mer. We are impres­sed by the vast­ness of the ceme­te­ry-memo­rial, made up of a gloo­my and well-groo­med mea­dow, dot­ted with innu­me­ra­ble whi­te cros­ses, see­min­gly equal to each other. We approach and begin to read the names car­ved on each of them, sta­te of ori­gin, date of birth, and death. In front of some of them, the­re are spo­ra­dic flo­wers, roses or small Ame­ri­can flags. From the ceme­te­ry is visi­ble Oma­ha Beach, ano­ther site on which lan­dings took pla­ce.

The impres­si­ve Ame­ri­can memo­rial ceme­te­ry in Col­le­vil­le-sur-Mer
Alter­na­ted to the whi­te cros­ses the­re are tomb­sto­nes sha­ped as David star for Jewish sol­diers

In the late after­noon, we head to the south-west part of Nor­man­dy whe­re Mont Saint-Michel is loca­ted, almo­st on the bor­der with Brit­ta­ny. The plan is to go to the area so that we can move on the next mor­ning direc­tly to visit the for­ti­fied island. We stop for the night at the moto­rho­me area repor­ted by Fur­go­per­fec­to, La Bidon­niè­re. The small hill vil­la­ge, for­tress, and church are alrea­dy visi­ble in the distan­ce to the hori­zon.

Tips
World War II sites visi­ted are free
AC La Bidon­nie­re: cam­per­van + 2 pax + elec­tri­ci­ty = 10,70 €, sho­wer not inclu­ded. Rela­ti­ve­ly cheap acco­mo­da­tion in an area whe­re all the alter­na­ti­ves are qui­te expen­si­ve