visited the American cemetery at Omaha Beach, several of the students walked
down to the edge of the water. Later, it struck me that the boys in this
picture--juniors and seniors in high school--were actually older at the time
they posed for this picture than many of the young men buried on the cliffside
above were at the time they were killed. Each time we visit Normandy,
I look at the open beach and steep cliffs and am amazed that the invasion
was a success, and even more amazed that the military leaders at the time
could even conceive that it was possible.
|Pointe du Hoc
lies between Omaha and Utah beaches. On D-Day, a small group of American
Rangers scaled the sheer cliffs to destroy the German bunkers there.
Today, there is a small granite marker at the point, but otherwise the site
is left as it was after the battle, with barbed wire and scarred landscape
and bombed out bunkers. A few walkways and viewing points have been
provided for the tourists, but otherwise it has been changed little in the
last sixty years.
is Mont St. Michel's main street (and practically its only street) winding
up from the city's main gate to the steps leading to the Abbey. This
is a rare sight on High Street, possible only in the off-season and before
the tours starts. In summer High Street is so crowded that it's almost
impossible to move without touching someone else. If possible, always
spend at least one night in the town so you can experience it at its best.
All the hotels are located along High Street, so you might want to choose
one of the ones near the gate to minimize hauling your luggage up. On
this trip we stayed at the Auberge St. Pierre and the Croix Blanche (owned
by the same people).
|Mont St. Michel's
Cloister is on the highest level on the western side of the Abbey and provides
unequaled views toward the ocean. If you are in Mont St. Michel on
your own, check at the Tourist Office (on the left after you enter the main
gate) for two important times for the day: (1) the time for the scheduled
guided tours of the abbey in English , and (2) the time for the high tides.
You can tour the abbey on your own, and the written brochure provides
most of the information you need, but a guide can provide extra information
and can answer whatever questions you might have.
||At Mont St. Michel,
an announcement is made thirty minutes or so before the tide comes in warning
motorists to move their vehicles to higher ground. A favorite pastime
is to stand on the ramparts and take bets on which car will be the last
to move before the waters fill the parking lots. We haven't seen one
get covered with water yet, but there have been several close calls. There
have been plans for several years to replace the causeway with a bridge,
making it possible for the tides to wash the silt from the bay and make
Mont St. Michel an island once again. All parking will be moved to the mainland,
and the tourists will take a bus to the Abbey. But bureaucracies move
as slowly as the silt, and the causeway still remains in place.