day 14 – Bayeux, France
Sunday 18th September 2011 – We woke early to find we hadn’t been drugged and went for a run along Omaha beach towards Pont de Hoc. Its is now a wonderful beach with beautiful residences with awesome sea views all along it. Sailing clubs and cafes dotted along it, a far cry from what it must have been like in 1944.
There is one thing I remember vividly from history at school and that is the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Bayeux Tapestry so as we were so close we thought it would be rude not to pop and see this UNESCO example of world heritage.
We parked in a fab Aire right in the city centre again free and would have been a great place to stay overnight. I have to say the French are so amazingly motor home friendly and you feel so welcome it makes you want to tour around France permanently [All the Aires France, 3rd edition, page 426, BAYEUX, No. 98, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].
It was a perfect day for a museum because it rained non-stop but Bayeux is a fabulous town with an awesome cathedral and of course that famous tapestry. How lucky were we it was the museum’s ‘get in free’ day so we got to see the tapestry along with an audio guide for nothing. It is fabulous to actually see something that you only learned about at school it is 70 meters long but actually is much narrower than I thought it would be not that that takes anything away from it. It really is amazing to think that it dates back nearly 1000 years.
Another great tip from our motor home friends and the ‘1,000 Places To See Before You Die’ by Patricia Schultz which incidentally the Bayeux tapestry is in too is Le Mont Saint Michel so we left late afternoon in direction of the famous ‘Mont’. We arrived in the evening and rather than stay on the Aire which is literally right on the causeway leading to the island we stayed at a fabulous Aire which is actually part of the campsite across the road so has power and washing up facilities. [All the Aires France, 3rd edition, page 430, LE MONT SAINT MICHEL 2, No. 113, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].
day 13 – Arromanches, France
We left the Memorial early this morning to get to Arromanches to visit the D-Day Museum. Parked at the Aire in Arromanches to walk to the Museum. It was an interesting display especially the film and model of how they built the Mulberry harbour amazing how innovative the human race can be. We then had some lunch back at Christina and then took Loli for her dose of culture too and she got to wee all around the guns and old bits of bridge.
We then headed off to Pointe Du Hoc and passed the American Cemetery on the way so thought we should pop in. It was a really brilliant visitor centre after going through tough security we found it really informative and well done. It really hit home how many US soldiers perished on Omaha beach especially at Pointe Du Hoc where he Rangers scaled cliffs to get to the gun positions. They took the positions but only about 20% of them made it which is not great odds. The Cemetery itself and the monuments and crosses were impactful so much care and attention gone into them. We then headed out to Pointe du Hoc which when we walked round showed us the scale and power of the defences that our forces overcame. We then headed back towards Bayer and found a fab cheeky wild camp spot right next to the US Cemetery with sea views. [Moulins, 14710 Colleville-sur-Mer].
We had a lovely experience in the night. The idea of wild camping or ‘free’ camping as I prefer to call it is to be very discreet and leave no trace and sometimes you’re not sure if you may get moved on so we are being all discreet blinds down and its pitch black outside and we hear the sound of a car pull up. Tina looked out of the window and says there is a van outside and a man with a hat on has just got out. So we switch all the lights off and site as quiet as mice hoping the security don’t notice Christina parked in the middle of the car park. Well there was a knock on the door so as all brave men would do I got Tina to answer the door and to our relief it wasn’t security or the police but an entrepreneurial farmer selling his home made bottled cider. So rather than be rude we bought a bottle of his brew and drank it with our dinner. However we both had the same thought which was ‘what if it’s drugged and he come back with a gang to steal all our belongings?’ So that night we made sure we were well securely deadlocked!
day 12 – Caen, France
Feeling really French today fetched fresh baked croissants from the bakers wearing a scarf! Headed out to Caen to visit the ‘Museum for Peace’ today.
A big tip if you do this trip is that you don’t have to drive into the centre of Caen as we did to locate the tourist info as we usually do you can take the ring road around Caen and the ‘memorial’ is well sign posted.
The CAEN-NORMANDIE MEMORIAL CITE DE L’HISTOIRE POUR LA PAIX to give it its full name was truly awesome probably one of the best museums with the most impact that I have ever been to. Tina and I spent over 6 hours in there and were the last to leave! The tourist office had told us that it was fine to overnight in the motor home car park at the Museum so we had a night of reflection and I took Loli for a walk around the grounds before dinner.
day 11 – Honfleur, France
A great start to the day had a run around Honfleur in my vibrams listening to Paul J Meyer in the sun it’s a beautiful town can’t wait to walk back in with Loli and Tina for a cheeky coffee.
Walked back into the town it really is absolutely beautiful and picturesque and as it is day 11 Tina thought it was time to do some washing so in one of the most picturesque towns I have ever been too we did our laundry and had a cheeky coffee at a café across the road taking in the atmosphere.
After dropping our sweet smelling clothes back off at Christina we spent the afternoon exploring Honfleur and I can’t recommend it enough.
Another recommendation from our fabulous facebook friends and from another great book we are using as a guide ‘Europe in a Motor home, A Mid-Life Gap year Around Southern Europe by H.D. Jackson was to visit the peace memorial museum in Caen so we headed off as the afternoon cooled in the direction of Caen. We started keeping an eye out for a place to stay outside Caen and about 20 kilometres away cam across an Aire in Herouvillette which was fab and free! [All the Aires France, 3rd edition, page 410, HEROUVILLETTE, No. 36, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].
day 10 – Jumieges, France
Had best nights sleep of the trip to realise that I woke an hour later than planned. Felt so much better for it will set it for an hour later every night!
Went for a fab tandem along the Seine took a ferry across the river from Jumieges to Heurteaville and cycled north along the river on the ‘fruit route’ crossing the river again on the fabulous ‘Pont de Brotonne’ bridge and across to the other bank of the river to pick up the ‘fruit route’ again following the river round and back to Jumieges via Les Mesnil Sous Jumieges. We did 30 and a bit miles (need to start thinking in kilometres now) and had fab day out.
Then relaxed with a cuppa and headed west to Honfleur which was another tip we got and a place listed in ‘1,000 Places To See Before You Die, A Travelers Life List’ by Patricia Schultz which is proving to be an awesome guide.
We arrived in Honfleur around 8.00 after a shopping stop in LeClerc who seem to sell the cheapest diesel in France and stopped in a massive Aire right by the harbour. [All the Aires France, 3rd edition, page 414, HONFLEUR, No. 51, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].
day 9 – Le Crotoy, France
Awoke to a sunny day in Le Crotoy and had a run along the beach to the harbour. Wonderful beach massive expanse of sand but not seen the sea yet! One of the fab tips we got at the campsite in Ypres was to visit Jumieges right next to the river Seine as it is apparently a fabulous cycling spot so we headed out after breakfast direction Jumieges.
Arrived in Jumieges which is where William the Conqueror was educated before he won the battle of Hastings in 1066 and became King of England. The recommended parking spot for Christina was an Aire and it was free so we parked up had a cuppa and then unpacked the Loli trolley and the tandem for an exploratory ride around the area.
Had a lovely cycle although we did manage to get a bit lost but decided to stay the night and tandem the ‘Fruit Route’ the next day. [All the Aires France, 3rd edition, page 424, JUMIEGES, No. 89, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].
day 8 – Le Touquet, France
Monday 12th September 2011 – Leaving Ypres today and heading south to France. Christina the adventure home is recharged after our first night on a campsite and we are heading for Le Touquet Paris Plage.
Le Touquet was fab and windy with lots of ‘face stinging’ sand blowing about so we had a walk around the picturesque town and had a cheeky coffee in a sheltered spot.
We then headed south to Le Crotoy and stopped the night on an Aire right on the beach [All the Aires France, 3rd edition, page 440, LE CROTOY 1, No. 1, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].