Normandy Journals

Normandy, Joan of Arc, William the Conqueror, & D-

An August 1997 trip to Normandy by Bobbi

Quote: We spent a lovely three days in Normandy with our teenage sons, steeping ourselves in history. We were surprised to find many things that interested the kids, and lots of layers of history to explore.

Normandy, Joan of Arc, William the Conqueror, & D-

Overview

Quote:
My favorite moment occurred on the first day of the trip, in the public lavatory in the square in Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. There is a very interesting and very modern church on the site, which was locked up tight during the lunch hour(s), and I wanted to know something about it. I asked the gentleman who was working in the lavatory when the church was built. His answer was, 'Oh, at the same time as the public toilets.' There's a man to whom his job is the center of his world! On a more serious note, the landing beaches are so impressive to visit; it is incredible to me that our men scaled those cliffs, even without the enemy fire. I get goose bumps even as I write th...Read More
Quote:
We had a lot of trouble finding this hotel, as the street changes names about 3 times, is one way in some places, and is a pedestrian-only street for a few blocks. The hotel is also tucked in a courtyard behind a wall, but we were very pleased once we arrived. It was our first night, just off the trans-Atlantic flight with a day of sightseeing to prevent naps, and we were tired and delighted to discover how SILENT this hotel was. No traffic noises, no noisy neighbors, just pure, unadulterated quiet. I truly don't remember much about the rooms themselves--they were fine, but not especially luxurious, but the quiet was such a luxury itself! It turns out this hotel is a member of the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Hotel d'Argouges
21 rue St Patrice
Normandy, France
02.31.92.88.86

Quote:
La Mere Poulard is one of the few hotels on Mont St-Michel proper, so there is not a lot of choice if you want to spend the night there. (Which is highly recommended, as the crowds during the day are fierce.) These accommodations were basic, nothing special, but certainly adequate and clean. The hotel has clearly converted a number of nearby houses into their hotel, and you can walk between several buildings before reaching your rooms. Staying at the hotel does help you get a reservation at the restaurant, which is one of the most famous in all of France. (Not wonderful in my opinion, however...)

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

La Mere Poulard
Grande Rue BP 18
Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France 50170
33 2 33 89 68 68

La Mere Poulard

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
La Mere Poulard is famous for its omelettes, which are made in front of a large window so that the crowds on the street can watch. It is fun to eat there, so as to say you did so (you will be in great company, at least historically), but I didn't love the food. The kids didn't find much they wanted, and frankly I didn't like my omelet. They pride themselves on fluffly omelets, but I found it too fluffy (and undercooked inside as a result--foamy stuff oozed out when I cut into it). We were also surprised to discover that the mushroom omelet (which as I recall was the only choice of 'filling') comes not filled with mushrooms as we expected, but rather with a pile of sauteed mushrooms on the side. ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

La Mere Poulard
Grande Rue BP 18
Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France 50170
33 2 33 89 68 68

Rouen Cathedral

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
The Gothic cathedral of Rouen is very familiar-looking because it was painted so often and in so many lights by Monet. What a pleasure to see it in person! We were a little disappointed that one of the towers was hidden by scaffolding, but greatly amused to discover that this is the 'butter tower'--paid for by a tax on butter! I expected to drag my teenage sons kicking and screaming through the cathedral, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when my younger son pointed out the meaning behind the various symbols on sarcophagi in the church. I knew that Richard the Lionhearted's sarcophagus was there--that was the secret I was keeping to entice the kids into the cathedral--but did ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Rouen Cathedral
center city
Normandy, France

Joan of Arc

Attraction | "Joan of Arc Burnt at Stake"

Quote:
The Place du Vieux Marche in Rouen is a short walk down the rue du Gros Horloge from the cathedral. It is here, in this square, that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. This is now just an open cobbled space, with a very modern church and a market on one side, and several cafes and tourist shops on the other.

There isn't too much to see here, but it takes only a couple of minutes to walk over from the cathedral, and it is worth making the pilgrimage. There is a marker where she was burned, and a tall cross celebrating her restoration to the Church some 25 years after her death. There is also a nice, clean public toilet here.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Joan of Arc
Place du Vieux Marche
Normandy, France

Bayeux Tapestry Museum

Attraction | "Bayeux Tapestry"

Quote:
This was another 'must do' on my list that I expected would be a 'no way' for my teenage sons. But I was wrong. When I said we were going to the museum of the tapestry for just a quick visit, be good--my younger son asked if this was the tapestry with Halley's comet in it. I didn't know, just knew it was about the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror--but he was right again. The museum has a lot of panels describing each section of the tapestry, before you get to the tapestry itself. If you have the time, this is worthwhile, but it is quite time-consuming to read all the writeups. We went quickly through this, because there is also a movie which gives you a great overview of what y...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Bayeux Tapestry Museum
13 Rue de Nesmond
Bayeux, France 14400
33 (0) 231 512 550

Quote:
Arromanches was called Gold Beach during the D-Day landings and was one of the beaches assigned to the British troops. Here there are the remains of one of the two mulberry harbors built during and immediately after the landings--and destroyed by a storm less than two weeks later. We began our visit by parking on the sidewalk (of course) in Arromanches, near the harbor, and walking up to a 360 degree theater up on the hill overlooking the harbor. The 15 minute film shown here is not useful in terms of orienting you to the geography of the landing beaches, but it is great for setting the mood for the rest of your visit to the D-Day beaches. The film was partially shot by war correspondents a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Mulberry Harbor at Arromanches (Gold Beach)
Along the English Channel
Normandy, France

D-Day Beaches

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Utah Beach"

Quote:
We headed west from Gold Beach in Arromanches, past Omaha Beach which was one of the American landing beaches, and went to Utah Beach where my father landed troops during the D-Day invasions (or Jour-J as the French call it.) Utah Beach is about 10 km away from Ste. Mere l'Eglise, famous for the church steeple (visible from Utah Beach) where an American paratrooper caught his parachute and hung, playing dead, for hours before being rescued. There are tanks and landing craft on display here, plus a museum which we did not have time to visit. There are markers pointing out the directions and distances to various nearby towns and to the various ships used in the first wave of the invasion. There...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

D-Day Beaches
Route de Liberation
Normandy, France