Deauville, St Aubin-sur-mer, Courcelles-sur-mer
Ambitiously, Grammar and I decided to go to Deauville, one of the classic and classy European beach resorts dating from the 1800s. It is still quite an upscale place with scads of tourists, lovely homes, famous Thoroughbred horse sales, which were underway, and a huge casino. Grammar spent quite a bit of time trying to get a new memory card and battery for her camera with no luck whatsoever. The French do not appear to be photographers. We then sat on the promenade and watched people on the beach.
Later, Grammar and I zoomed across country at 130 km/hr on several toll roads. The tolls added up but we really covered a lot of territory. We climbed way up and crossed two huge skyways that go over the shipping channel of the Seine River near Le Havre. At the highest point on the second bridge we saw people who had walked up there to take pictures. Grammar wishes she could have captured the shot of the nun in a pure white habit taking a photo of two other nuns.
Finally, we ended up at St Aubin-sur-Mer. It is a lovely little town with a less manicured beach than Deauville. The tide was going out and all sort of people were heading out with various implements to harvest shellfish. Grammar took her shoes off and wandered on her tender feet out into the sand and squishy seaweed.
We spotted a monument near the beach to a New Brunswick regiment that landed there on D-day. Unbeknownst to us, St Aubin was one end of Juno beach. Then we saw some posters advertising an Acadien festival that had occurred the previous week. The New Brunswickers are maintaining their contact with this area.
We were only one street away from the sea at our hotel, so we listened to the waves and smelled the smells all night.
The next morning, Grammar chatted with a Frenchman who was born in 1933 and grew up in Dunkirk. He really wanted to thank Grammar and all Canadians for coming to their rescue.
In the morning, we went a short distance to the Juno Beach Centre at Courcelles-sur-mer. This is another place where individual Canadians have stayed in touch with France. At Juno Beach, the centre is not government run like Vimy Ridge. Instead it is a non profit organization established by Canadian WWII veterans who landed at Juno Beach. When they returned to Juno Beach 50 year later, they were shocked to find Canada had no presence in the stories presented of the D-Day landing. These Canadians worked with an extended group of Dutch whom they had befriended during the war and with whom they had stayed in close contact. Together, they conceived of a centre telling the dramatic Canadian story and they fundraised to get it going. The centre was opened in 2003. It is outstanding.
We heard a great story about the Canadians and the D-day landing. The Canadians were all volunteers and seasoned fighters. They were given the longest and toughest section of beach between two British sections. Inland, the Canadians would be facing crack German Panzer troops. The three beaches were to be given fish names: the British beaches were Gold[fish] and Sword[fish]; the Canadian was to be Jellyfish. The Canadians refused to land on Jellyfish; so another name had to be found. The solution was Juno which was short and easy for English and French-speaking soldiers and Polish fighter pilots to say and hear.
After this visit, we again swooped across country on fast roads, this time without tolls. There don't appear to be any toll roads in Brittany. They must spend their taxes differently than the other places we were. We found our nice lodging in La Trinite Porhoet and then went back into Rennes to pick up Barb and Pierre, our Canadian friends, at the train station.