|It was a Sunday when we left St. Lo, which meant not much was open except a wonderful pastry shop, recommended by the hotel desk clerk, where the locals were getting their morning breakfast. The clerk has also helped me make reservations at a Mecure Hotel in Caen where we intended to spend that night. She also gave me a 10% discount because it came with the Eurail pass and spoke perfect English, although I did try to practice my limited French wherever I could.
No one should try to see the Normandy beaches in one day; however, we were hurrying to get on toward Paris and not run out of time. Scott always "flight plans" everything down to the last detail but I tend to go with the flow and stop where I find soemthing interesting but we knew the high points that we wanted to see and what we needed to skip to stay with the timetable.
First stop this day was St. Mere Eglise, the first town in France liberated by the Allies on D-Day. There has been so much written and filmed about this town, that surely every American of a certain age knows the name of this town. It is well documented in the movie, "The Longest Day" that paratroopers were flown in at midnight the night before the beach landings started and one unfortunate man got hung up on the church steeple until the Germans saw him at daylight and shot him in the foot. A representation of the event, a dummy with a parachute, hangs to this day on the very same church steeple. We would recommend the museum here which is filled with war machines, planes and memorabilia. Most of the visitors were elderly men, most probably English and American veterans, that were often wearing baseball caps denoting their military units. If you eavesdropped, you could hear their war stories as they walk around the museum. This visit could take all day but we had limited time and were hungry so walked over to a local restaurant where we were tempted by the pizza and had hot tea and coffee.
Here we found our first "Ugly American" of the trip. A very bossy woman at the next table was insisting on vegetarian pizza and not satisfied with the service. Had she even tried to speak a little French and been polite, she might have gotten further but she was one who should have just stayed home and watched the movie.
Our meal was satisfying and we soon pushed off towards Utah beach.