France is not simply Paris (contrary to popular belief at times), with the country offering a plethora of cultural and historical sites at one’s disposal. France is bursting with rich history and perhaps even richer variety, and unlike the United States, these remarkable sites are often simply a train ride away. As my exploration of France continues, my appreciation for how culturally dense the nation is grows. Unlike the United States, there are distinct regions, many on the smaller side in comparison to the vastness of the States, all with developed and particular histories and dialects, regional specialities, and defined personalities. Having earlier travelled to Strasbourg as well as to Dijon and the Burgundy region, I was eager to likewise visit Normandy to develop a more holistic understanding of France and her many charms.
Last Saturday morning we departed from Paris’s Left Bank, and by late morning I felt worlds away from the captial. The Haussmannian streets, crowded cafes, and fast pulse of Paris was replaced by the tranquil and nostalgic nature of Honfleur, a coastal town in the Calvados region of France. We visited the Musée Eugène Boudin, a relatively small museum offering a delightful collection of paintings of nautical scenes; and then we strolled around the town in search of seafood, naturally. As I enjoyed a bowl of mussels and a glass of wine, with a delightful sea breeze ridding me of any remnants of urban exhaustion, I couldn’t help but feel that I had entered one of the intimate scenes of Boudin.
visite d’une cidrerie dans le Calvados
Following our exploration of the town, we were treated to a cider and Calvados tasting (regional specialties) at a nearby distillery. While not necessarily the warm, spiced, and alcohol-free cider that I associate with autumn’s county fairs, orchards, and football games, this tasting was one of the more conventional fall activities I have participated in during my abroad experience.
Sur la plage de Deauville.
Following a quick excursion to the beach at Deauville, the day came to a close as we arrived at a quaint coastal town for the night, our lodging address being right on one of the D-Day beaches — where I luxuriated in a post-dinner stroll to the company of waves and sand between my toes, with Paris but a distant memory.
The beaming sun on Sunday morning, accompanied by a coastal wind and a rainbow that spanned the sky, provided a beautiful yet somber background to the American Cemetery at Colleville-sr-Mer. Visitors were sparse, providing ample time to observe and reflect on the significance of the cemetery. Seeing the locations of such momentous events in human history transcends language and cultural differences, making the world a little bit smaller for an American in France.
Cimetière Américain à Colleville-sur-Mer.
au Pointe du Hoc près d’Omaha Beach.
déjeuner gastronomique à Bayeux où nous avons vu la célèbre tapisserie.
musée du Mémorial (Seconde Guerre mondiale) à Caen.