We’ve had a busy first few days in France. On Monday we went to Le Grand Bunker at Ouistreham, a German bunker captured as part of the allied landings in June 1944. Then we continued on to Pegasus Bridge and the museum next to it, which had huge amounts of information on the capture of the bridge and the allied landings in general. They had the original bridge in the grounds of the museum together with a copy of one of the Horsa gliders used to transport allied troops (none of the originals survive).
On Tuesday morning we went to Arromanches to have a look at the remains of the Mulberry Harbour.
From there we rewound history a few hundred years and went to see the Bayeux Tapestry (the photo is of a book cover as of course photos of the original tapestry aren’t allowed). We also had a look around Bayeux cathedral, which was impressive:
On Wednesday we headed South to Falaise and visited the birthplace of “Billy the Bastard” (William the Conqueror). The castle was impressive. There wasn’t too much about William but they brushed over this nicely by handing out ipads to take round with us. In each room, you held the ipad over a symbol – from this the ipad brought up a 360 degree view of what the room would have looked like in William’s time (well…. the bits that were built in William’s time…..). You could then click on various points to bring up further information. It all worked remarkably well, except that we had to swap ipads as the further information on Mark’s was in French. There was also a bit of a to-do when Mark thought his ipad was broken as it wasn’t scanning the symbol in the room we were in, but then realised he had his finger over the camera hole!
We’ve had no disasters so far, unless you count a split waste pipe from the bathroom sink (which we aren’t counting as it’ll be fixed in a day or two when tourist activities permit and we have a perfectly good kitchen sink in the meantime). The French have been very cooperative, with the sole exception of the supermarket cashiers….. We stopped at a Carrefour on Monday afternoon and at 3pm sharp ALL of the cashiers decided to close their checkouts, leaving us and an equally bemused group of French shoppers milling around the tills wondering what on Earth was going on. It took the checkout supervisor a remarkably long time to work out that there may be a problem…… Then on Tuesday morning we were parked by a SuperU supermarket and I nipped in at 9.15am to buy some washing-up liquid and a couple of tokens for the motorhome service point in their car park. As I arrived at the “10 items or less” checkout the girl informed me that “non!”, she was closing….. Well, I suppose the shop had been open for 15 minutes by that point, so she was probably due a rest……
Our French is coming along OK. I am busy reading Inspector Maigret in French and looking up the words I don’t know / reading all the information boards in French and similarly noting any new words (as a result of which I could now hold quite a reasonable conversation on the subject of tanks, shells, and machine guns….). Mark is speaking loudly and clearly in English and waving his arms around with ever-increasing panache….. He did greet a frenchman with a cheerful ¡hola! the other day, explaining later that he had “got a bit confused”.
We’re planning to explore Mont St Michel tomorrow…..