A Memorable Visit to the Beaches of Normandy
It’s Veterans Day today, and my mind is on France. It makes more sense than you might think; my favorite place in France is, technically, American soil.
I actually think of the American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy often, as it’s one of the most moving sites I can recall visiting and one of the first places I recommend to anyone headed to France. The train ride from Paris to Bayeux—a lovely French town in its own right, and home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, woven from older battles—is just three hours, so the beaches of Normandy are a fairly easy day trip from the City of Light.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member pruthfield
I promise it’s worth leaving the boutique-lined Champs-Elysées of Paris for Normandy’s champs of poppies. I was lucky enough to tour the beaches of D-Day—Omaha, Utah, Juno, and more—with a Dutch history-buff guide who made sure I circled every bunker, heard every story, and still had time to reflect in the windy cemetery. But whether you style a self-guided tour, join a group excursion, or find a private guide online like I did, you won’t leave unaffected.
Standing in the cemetery and looking west, with the Spirit of American Youth statue beside me and the U.S. both underfoot and far off, is a moment I recall on patriotic days like today, and a powerful reminder of what a small world we live in and travel.
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.