This summer I have been going back and forth between France and Philadelphia, celebrating birthdays. So now here I am again telling the story of my mother’s wish, for her birthday. She wanted to go to the beaches in Normandy where the landing took place. So we did.
She could not travel easily, she is ninety one years old so we took the train from Tours to Caen. There, a taxi was waiting for us to take us to Bayeux where we would spend three nights. The weather was menacing. My mother did not want to wait until the next day to start the excursion, though we had booked for the next day a whole trip with a private chauffeur. Off she went alone, with a taxi to Omaha Beach, the American cemetary, and Arromanches.
It turns out that the next day, it didn’t rain. We created a different route with the chauffeur. We went to Sainte-Mere Eglise where the parachute is still hanging on the Gargoyle of the steeple of the church. We went to Utah Beach, and then we went to the German Cemetary, the Journalist cemetary and to Juno Beach. It was very moving and impressive and hard to believe that so many men and so much material could be brought in in such a short time.
My mother enjoyed it very much since our lives are very much part of the war. I was born during the war and my father died, with me in his arm unhurt, during the American bombing of May 1944.
The next day we went to visit the beautiful Gothic and Romanesque cathedral of Bayeux and the famous Bayeux tapestry. It is not really a tapestry, it is an embroidery retracing the history of the Duke of Normandy, William the Conquerer. We also went to the commemorative stone of Robert Capa, a war reporter and photographer who landed with the soldiers on June 6th 1944.
We cannot talk about Normandy without talking about food. We ate delicious butter from Isigny, the sea scallops of Port-en-Bessin, l’andouille de Vire, the tripes of Caen, and le pont-l’évêque, Livarot, and the brillat-savarin cheeses. We tasted Calvados and Cidre Bouché in an old farm where the owner, a charming young woman, called Françoise introduced us to a new drink for us called Pommeau.