As we enter into Memorial Day I am realizing I don’t think I’ll ever look about Memorial Day the same way again. After visiting Normandy last summer this holiday holds a little more significance for me from now on.
When there was nothing else on TV my husband and I could always trust HGTV to deliver some entertainment with a house buying or renovating show. Lately we have not been tuning in to HGTV. We have found ourselves annoyed by the behavior of the buyers.
When you think of iconic sights in France one of two places comes to mind - the Eiffel Tower and Mont Saint-Michel. Staying in Honfleur, we were about a two and a half hour drive to Mont Saint-Michel. All of a sudden as we are driving my husband looks over and says “there it is!” - and it does just that - looks like it was just plopped there in front of you rising out of the water. It is an amazing sight to see.
If you have seen the movie The Longest Day you are familiar with the small town of Sainte-Mère-Église. You may even feel you have been there before when visiting - and you have virtually since some scenes of the movie were filmed on-site. There is a wonderful, immersive, interactive museum in town dedicated to the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions who parachuted into Normandy in advance of the D-Day landings.
Our trip to the Tapestry was one adventure! The Tapestry is located in a building a few blocks from the Bayeux Cathedral. We dutifully plugged the address for the Tapestry building into our GPS. The GPS sure did take us there - directly in the courtyard of the building! This is one of those times when you have to have a map with you in addition to your GPS. We eventually found our way to municipal parking lot (there is no parking for the Tapestry alone) and then found our way by foot back to the Tapestry.
This immense Museum can seem overwhelming to you when you first arrive, and you could definitely spend a whole day here. We had decided to spend half a day and lunch at the Museum. The Museum is divided into two sections - the world before 1945 and the world after 1945.
It is impossible to visit all the D-Day sites in Normandy. We did our homework before our trip, read a lot, watched movies and documentaries, and researched travel books. After doing this we designed a day that covered highlights that interested us the most.
We planned our day in Rouen around the walking tour in Rick Steves’ France book. Following his advice we drive into town and parked in the parking lot under the Place de Vieux Marché. This is an ideal location. You come up from the underground parking lot and are standing by the L’Église Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc. We were there on a Sunday, so had the added fun of a farmers market style market at the Vieux Marché
After much research and map-reading we chose Honfleur as our homebase for five nights in Normandy. Honfleur puts you a little over an hour from Giverny, within an hour of Rouen, D-Day sights, Caen, and Bayeux, and about two hours from Mont Saint-Michel.