April 2024:  As part of a 3 weeklong trip across Europe and Morocco, my family and traveled to the Normandy region of France for 3 days from Paris. We rented a car in Paris and the morning after I spent the first night of our trip in the Paris catacombs, we set off on the 3-hour drive to our stop for the night at Mont Saint Michele, a scenic tidal island featuring a 1000-year-old Abby and medieval village rising up from its center. The next day on our way back to Paris, we stopped to visit the World War II invasion beaches around Normandy-Utah beach and Pointe du Hoc.

 

 

Where is Normandy

Map of Normandy

Mont Saint Michel

We were tired and jet lagged but we really wanted to see Mont Saint Michele, arguably the most beautiful historical site in France. The 1000-year-old medieval village and abbey perched on top pf a tidal island that is at times of the day isolated from the mainland, is mesmerizing. It is popular with tourists and is best visited during the shoulder season like April. But the downside of visiting in April is it was freezing cold, and the wind was brutal. But we didn’t have crowds and that made visiting the island magical, especially at night.

 

 

Paula, Indie and I

Mont Saint Michele

Fresh local Oysters from the bay

Nightime exploring 

World War II Invasion Beaches

I am fascinated by all things World War II and I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the invasion beaches of Normandy. These were the beaches where thousands of American and allied troops gave their lives to turn the tide of the war against the nazis in Europe and to me these beaches represent a strong sense of American patriotism and sacrifice. I really wanted not only to visit them and see and experience them with my own eyes, I wanted to do so with my family and my daughter. My vision of what I hoped for of course was completely different than expected. We were exhausted, the drive was long, the weather cold with bouts of freezing rain and wind off of the ocean fierce, which made it hard to appreciate these historical places. But we did our best and we were still able to see Utah Beach and Pointe du Hoc before returning to Paris.

 

 

Cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

Cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

German bunkers Cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

German Bunkers at Cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

German Bunkers at Cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

German Bunkers at Cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

Utah Beach

Utah Beach

Driving across France had it challenges too, especially during rush hour in Paris. many of the drivers were aggressive and impatient. Fueling stations were less common along the highway than I expected, and this was a problem when I needed to find fuel with 100 miles left in the tank and multiple un-manned stations, I visited did not dispense fuel.

 

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