Monday, December 19, 2016

Normandy, Day Seven & Eight. Caen, Driving back to Paris and wrapping up the Trip

Sunday Morning Farmer's Market and Paris Halloween

After our tour of Le Mont Saint Michel on Saturday afternoon, we walked back to our car which was parked almost three miles away.  Le Mont Saint Michel was jam packed and frankly, we were glad to "check it off" the list and get out of there.  It was so crowded and indeed a tourist trap, but an amazing thing to see nevertheless.  We were tired and hungry but chose not to dine there, instead opting to drive to our next overnight location, Caen.
Battle map of Caen depicting Allied
Caen is on the eastern edge of the Normandy Invasion Battlefront and is the capital of northern France's Lower Normandy region. Its city center features the Château de Caen, a circa-1060 castle built by William the Conqueror. It stands on a hill flanked by the Romanesque abbeys of Saint-Étienne and Sainte-Trinité, which date from the same period. Caen was an objective for the 3rd British Infantry Division and remained the focal point for a series of battles throughout June, July and into August. The battle did not go as planned for the Allies, instead it dragg on for two months.
The old city of Caen—with many buildings dating back to the Middle Ages—was destroyed by Allied bombing and the fighting. The reconstruction of Caen lasted until 1962; today, little of the pre-war city remains.
We stayed in a "normal" holiday-inn-like hotel, happy to relax after such a busy day.  After checking in, we drove into the town center for dinner and found a Basque restaurant that was fantastic.
Trick or Treaters in Paris Bar
The next morning, Sunday we drove back into town and were amazed at the beehive of activity on a Sunday morning.  A farmer's market with several hundred vendor stalls was set up along the waterfront.  It was crowded and the food, produce, meats, cheeses for sale were so amazing to behold.  We grabbed a crepe breakfast and meandered through the vast market admiring the delicious offerings.  Much of the town is new due to the rebuild after the destruction caused by the war but the castle of William the Conquerer remains as well as several cathedrals.  We walked around them and got a good feel for the town before heading back to Paris in the early afternoon.
In Paris, we returned our rental car and hung out at our accommodations there.  We actually found an Irish pub that aired American Football and spent Sunday evening cheering on our team.
The next day, Halloween, we actually saw costumes and trick or treaters in the bar we were at!  They were costumed children escorted by their costumed parents.  The bartender gave them candy treats and off they went, presumably to another bar that celebrated Halloween.

Lamb Chops at our Basque Restaurant
Grouper with a Chorizo Crust
Having Coffee after touring the market

There must have been 50 different types of potatoes!

The array of cheeses and Charcuteries were impressive 

There were thousands of people shopping that morning

The weekly Farmer's Market in Caen

A Castle tower that survived the 

   The next day we left for home on an afternoon flight, arriving around 8 pm EST.  Joseph and I left with wonderful experiences and a greater appreciation for the men who participated in the D-Day invasion.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the people I met in Normandy and can say with all sincerity, that they STILL appreciate what the Americans (and the Allies) did in those days.  For me, it is something that I will never forget and to have been able to do it with my son, made it even more special and memorable to me. 

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