Monday, December 10, 2007

Normandy, France - Retracing History (Part 3)

We conclude our Normandy visit with three destinations: St. Mere Eglise, Pointe du Hoc, and Honfluer. St Mere Eglise was occupied by the Germans on June 18th 1940, and liberated by the Americans on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). As we drove into this quaint little French town, we saw the church where the paratrooper John Steel hung from the steeple after his chute got snagged. He was captured by the Germans after hanging there for a couple hours and then later freed by the Americans. Today you can see an effigy of this famous paratrooper. Inside the church there are two beautiful stained glass windows. One shows the Virgin Mary surrounded by paratroopers and the other shows St. Michael (patron saint of the paratroopers). A portion of the window is shown here. Across from the church is the airborne museum which marks the site of a house that caught fire during the battle on D-Day. View more pictures from our St. Mere Eglise visit.
Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location built by the Germans on the coast of Normandy, France, not far from Omaha Beach. As we toured this location, we saw the now empty craters which had housed a battery of guns fortifying the region. U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion was given the task of destroying the strong-point early on D-Day . The Rangers successfully carried out their mission, scaling the steep cliffs and engaging with the enemy. We didn't have to stretch our imagination too far since our guide had a book containing pictures taken back in the 40s. Check out our photo album for more pictures of Pointe du Hoc.

The last images of Normandy that I'd like to leave you with are from our final stop before returning to our ship. Honfleur, France is a picturesque harbor town known for it's cobblestone streets, slate-covered buildings, painted many time by artists.
The Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell-tower separate from the principal building, is the largest church made out of wood in France. As we walked along the harbor streets, it began to rain harder. We had considered having something to eat in one of the cafes that lined the harbor, but the rain put a damper on things. We had had a full day exploring Normandy, and decided that these peaceful images of this town were a fitting way to end our tour. Check out more pictures of Honfleur in our photo album.

We have been on many cruises in over 20 years. I'm often asked what is my favorite cruise. It is difficult for me to answer that question because each cruise has something special that I remember. Our visit to Normandy definitely ranks among my favorite destinations, especially due to the fact I could retrace history and begin to understand why my dad never spoke of the war. I highly encourage you to visit this special region, even if you aren't a history buff I think you will enjoy your visit.

Until we meet again, happy cruising.

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