Paris in SeptemberAuthor: Barbara D. (More Trip Reviews by Barbara D.)
Date of Trip: October 2009
We spent afternoon exploring the churches in the Latin Quarter; Notre Dame just across the Seine from the quarter, St Serverin Church, St Etienne Church and Pantheon...very beautiful....lovely architecture. Still full from lunch, we grabbed a bottle of wine and walked down to Seine under Notre Dame... sat and drank while listening to a lady singer performing Sinatra style songs, watched the sunset and got night time pictures of Notre Dame...I am smitten with Paris!
9/9/09 I booked our Normandy tour online with Grayline Tours. We are up early readying ourselves for the day ahead, have a 45 min walk to where we join the tour. We all gathered and meeting couples from all over the US, Australia and Canada.
The tour was fantastic....
By far this tour was one of my top experiences so far with my travels. The French countryside is very reminiscent of Tenn., KY, and Virginia in color and foliage. Most of the houses are from another era...you can just see the age...charming. They are built in villages...community is strong here....such a nice feeling.
Our first stop was the Memorial at Caen, it was so nicely done...a very fitting tribute to Allied forces liberating the French. I felt the appreciation by the French for the Americans, British & Canadian liberation...the detail in the 2 movies shown is so telling of the story.
We were fed lunch here, an aperitif drink, chicken suvee with a lovely white sauce, vegs and a pomme de terre fritter (potato pancake), there was unlimited red wine(a Boudreaux), water and bread. The salad bar had many salad mixes and a cinnamon rice pudding (luscious) and chocolate tart.
The French Countryside is just charming.... We drove to the coast deep thru the Normandy Country side, villages, each with a charming church, flowers, cattle, and sheep....just lovely to view. We arrived at Pointe du Hoc...the strong hold for the Germans and where the Americans climbed the cliffs in 10 minutes to overtake the German guns. The sheer cliff walls and the rough seas below made the GI's efforts almost insurmountable, the place was very impressive...the ground is laden with huge holes from the mortar blasts.
On to Omaha Beach, the surf is soooo strong and the wind cold here, the temperature had been 78 with nice sunny skies in Paris just 150 miles away...here chilly, cloudy and WINDY!
Next stop was the American Cemetery, entering the grounds you feel a reverence, you walk the crosses and see so many June 6th, 7th, and 8th dates, from this you get the magnitude of the invasion and the death tolls. Just from walking it looks like eighty percent or more died those first days that are buried here. 9,800 American boys and over 1,557 with out names and so many were teenagers. This is just so moving, my husband & I both were moved to tears here.
On to Arromanches, a beautiful town by the sea, it is here where the British landed. We had only 15 minutes here; I could have shopped for hours. I did buy a bottle of Calvados - Apple Brandy for which this region is noted. Our last stop was Juno Beach and you could smell the oysters when we stepped off the bus. I wanted a dozen soooo bad. This is the site where the Canadians landed, and was the coldest and windiest place we visited.
Back to Paris at 21:15, husband and I strolled thru the Louvre grounds, back to Rue St Michelle for supper and then on to the flat for the night.
Normandy I booked thru Grayline, as I was unsure about all the details, getting there from Paris is a 3 hour ride, then the other areas are spread out over about 50m miles, I think the tour is well worth the money, paid in advance $212 each.
9/10/09 Today we strolled the streets, stopped at the Hard Rock cafe, purchased the city shirts and basically enjoyed the Parisian life. Walked along the Seine and found our train station for the trip to London tomorrow.
9/11/09 London has so many sites; we did a whirlwind across town tour. We booked the EuroStar to London (through the Chunnel) online about a month before we traveled to Paris. Is very easy to navigate the site and the train is a comfortable means for travel. We have friends that live in England and they were going to join us there for the day. Seeing them waiting for us at the train station was so heart warming.
We rode the "Tube" over to the Tower of London, took two transfers of lines to get there, the amount of people in London on the Tube was staggering...we were in the rush hour, but every train was crammed to standing room only.
We wandered through the Tower of London....what a pleasure, so many things of England's past and present in one place. The building is what you would expect of a medieval castle and the Jewels are just stunning! So much pageantry and rich history on display under one roof.
The Tower is right on the Thames River, which I learned is pronounced like "Tims" and is right at the Tower Bridge. We walked over and began the climb of 204 steps to the top. Along the stairs going up, which are cast iron, are posters and displays about the history of the bridge and a short video at the half way point. From the top the views were fabulous!
Across the Thames we ate lunch at an English pub, a few pints for the guys, fish and chips for all with mushy peas as well. On to our river cruise down to Westminster Abby, Parliament and the clock tower called Big Ben (which is actually the bell in the tower, not the tower). From there we walked to Buckingham Palace via the Horse Guards parade facility where the British men in uniform were standing so still on there horse, who was equally still and stately. St James Park was behind the Horse Guards and the gateway to Buckingham Palace.
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