Day Trip to Normandy

Posted on Apr 10, 2013 in Paris Stories | 0 comments

I recently went to Normandy for the day with some friends from North Carolina.  I hired an excellent local guide, Danielle Dubosque, to pick us up at the train station in Carenton.  We visited Sainte Mère Eglise, Pointe du Hoc, La Cambe, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery.

The tour was mostly about the D-Day landing.  I was particularly struck by the view at Pointe du Hoc where the Rangers had to scale 100-foot cliffs to disable the German position.  It had to have been brutal.  There were some 200 men when it started and around 90 when it was over 2-days later.  There are still huge craters in the ground from the bombing of the site as they overtook it.


Shoreline at Pointe du Hoc

Shoreline at Pointe du Hoc

Probably for me, one of the more disturbing sites we visited, was the German Cemetery, known as La Cambe.  Disturbing because it has a dark and lonely feeling to it.  And maybe a little too because I’m supposed to hate them?  I felt a very deep sadness walking through the door, looking at the markers in the ground with black crosses interspersed amongst them.

War is complicated.  The cemetery today is a symbol of reconciliation and includes a peace garden.  There’s a well-written article here that you can read:

La Cambe

There are also some notorious SS officers buried here, including Adolf Otto Diekmann.  This man was the senior officer in charge of the horrifying massacre of the village Oradour-sur-Glane.  A place I have not yet visited in France but will some day.  And I’ll also go back to La Cambe cemetery and spend more time exploring and trying to understand why these awful things happened.

I hope that if your time allows during your visit to France, that you can include a day-trip to Normandy.   It deserves more time but it’s better than not seeing it at all.

On an earlier trip, I was able to visit the British Military Cemetery and the Journalists Memorial in Bayeux and have included those photos as well.

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