Remembering Normandy

This Remembrance Day we decided to get out of the city and drive out to Normandy to pay homage to those who fought and died bravely for all these freedoms and splendors that we so enjoy. And as I walked around, taking in all the beautiful foods and smells that the region boasts, I also remembered my grandmother Sabina, who loved her whole family madly, and who died on November 11th several years ago.

We made it to beautiful little Bayeux, where we were lodging, within a few hours (Danica Patrick’s got nothing on me). The region is known for it’s Calvados, Cidre, Poire, Cochon, and landscapes that I can’t even describe the beauty of. Cattle, horses, and wild birds can be seen everywhere, and beautiful stone towns that look like they are about a million years old. It’s an incredible mix of history and modernity, and the food is just to die for. You haven’t tasted foie gras, bread, oysters and cheese ’till you’ve tasted them here. FYI, Au P’Tit Bistro is not to be missed, should you be planning a trip there.

Next, we visited Omaha, Gold and Juno Beaches. I was especially impressed with the American Cemetery and Memorial, and how beautiful it was.

John was also giddy with excitement at the prospect of visiting Mont St. Michel, so out we went. It truly is an incredible sight – I really thought such things only existed in Disney movies – and we gawked at everything until our eyes were sore. To cap off the evening in an adventurous fashion, I got lost in the swampy, pitch-black parking lot, and was rescued by a couple from Montreal who decided that they couldn’t leave me to sink like Artax and drove me around the massive grounds until I found my little Giulietta. See, you make friends everywhere. Thanks guys!

Abbey St. Michel is spectacular. It holds a special place among the religious buildings that I have seen on my travels because of its beautiful, tastefully minimal stained glass that is unlike any I have seen. The building is not dark and dismal and busy, it’s light and pastel-coloured and gorgeous.

Honfleur was a beautiful little artist’s town that we visited as well. I’m a sucker for any charming spot with an abundance of cafes, awnings, galleries and boats, but throw in amazing oysters and narrow, cobblestoned streets into the mix, and I get all grinny. Like so.

The White Cliffs of Etretat were the last stop before our drive back to Amsterdam. We climbed to the top, and watched the sun set perfectly through the narrow opening in one of the arcs. It was incredible. Later that night, we dreamily drove back home, our tummies filled with chocolate crepes and gaufres, our heads with visions of the beautiful places that we had seen, and the trunk filled with camembert, baguettes and bottles of cider for us and our friends.

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