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    This day we continued the military-historical theme.

  Even before the trip, I read an interesting book by Robert Belicki "Normandy, 1944" from the series "Great battles and battles", which served as a kind of guide to the places of battles on the banks of Normandy.

  We decided to drive the entire 90-kilometer strip along the coast, where on June 6, 1944, on D-Day, the largest landing operation of the Second World War began.

  First, along the A84 already rolled by us, we drove in the direction of Caen, went around this city along the ring road and moved to the area between the towns of Ranville and Benouville, where the famous "Pegasus Bridge" over the river Orne - the first important object captured by the allies.

  This drawbridge is in almost the same condition as in June 1944. In the nearest field, which in those years was a water meadow, there are three concrete stelae, installed just in the place where three Horsa-type gliders with English paratroopers landed. The steles are located about ten meters from the Pegasus Bridge (the gliders landed with such precision).

    Next to the bridge is the Museum of the 6th British Parachute Division Memorial Pegasus (6 euros). A model of the Pegasus Bridge, almost life-size, was built on the territory of the museum. Among the exhibits there are a lot of preserved equipment, weapons, ammunition, both allied and German.

    Having moved across the real Pegasus bridge to the west coast, we saw the English Cromwell tank on a low pedestal. During the fighting in the area of Lion-sur-Mer (Lion-sur-Mer), he was hit by a direct hit on the engine. Since this happened on a country road, the tank was simply pushed into a bomb crater and sprinkled with sand so that it would not delay traffic. The Cromwell remained in the ground until 1977, somehow escaping the attention of scrap collectors. Dug out on the initiative of former British paratroopers, the tank was installed next to the Pegasus bridge.

    From the Pegasus Bridge we drove along the mouth of the Orne River to the coast - the town of Quistreham and Riva-Bella beach. From here and further west began three English landing sites, called Sword, Juno and Gold.

  After driving 30 kilometers without stopping along the coast, we stopped in Arromanches-les-Bains. It was here that the artificial harbor of Mulberry was located, also called "Port of Winston" in honor of the English Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

  The scope of the landing operation and its largely innovative nature required the allies to use previously unknown technical means. One such area was the construction of artificial harbors. After all, it was required to deliver not only tens of thousands of paratroopers, but also a huge amount of military equipment, incl. heavy, including tanks. I will not go into technical details, I will note that one can only be surprised at the ingenuity of American and British engineers. And now, at a distance of one and a half kilometers from the coast, you can easily see the remains of the artificial harbor of Mulberry.

  On the central square of Arromanches there is a museum of the landing operation (Musee du Debarquement, 6.50 euros). It contains, among other things, a model of an artificial harbor, as well as models of several types of landing craft.

    Leaving Arromanches, we decided to deviate a little from the military theme and turned from the coast towards Bayeux. It should be noted that Bayeux also has a museum dedicated to the battles of 1944. But there is an interesting super site here, called the “Queen Mathilde Carpet” or the Bayeux Tapestry (Tapisserie de Bayeux). To see it, you have to pay 7.70 euros and do not forget to take an audio guide in Russian. The tapestry consists of 58 embroidered drawings on a strip 50 cm wide and as much as 70 meters long, telling about the exploits of William the Conqueror. In spirit, the drawings are similar to modern comics, which any graduate of an art school is probably able to draw now, but for the 11th century (and work on the carpet was completed in 1077), this was a serious cultural achievement.

  We also found a wonderful corner with a water mill in Bayeux. The Gothic cathedral also impresses, especially with its height - more than 100 meters.


     Is the largest American military cemetery in France. 9,386 soldiers and officers who fell in the battles for Normandy are buried here.

  Saint Laurent Cemetery is located within the Omaha Landing Site. Parts of the 1st American Infantry Division fought here, suffering huge losses in battles - up to 70% of the personnel. The cemetery smoothly descends to the sea and ends almost above the very cliff. It covers an area of 70 hectares and is "part of the United States", since this piece of land was officially transferred by France to the United States "in gratitude for the liberation of the country".


    In the eastern part of the cemetery is the Memorial and next to it is the so-called Garden of the Dead, dedicated to the memory of 1,557 soldiers and officers whose bodies could not be found or identified.

  A few kilometers west of Saint Laurent lies the Pont du Hoc. The remains of German bunkers rise above the cliff. We walked along the edge of this cliff. Here, traces of trenches and barriers are clearly visible, as well as a steep, almost vertical wall that the paratroopers had to overcome.

  Usually this military history route ends at Sainte-Mer-Eglise, but since we were there yesterday, we went home with a sense of accomplishment. 

    On the eve of that day, Wendy told us that real summer weather is expected, so we decided to go to nature.

  About 70 km from our farm, if you drive due east, there is a place called Norman Switzerland (Suisse Normande).

  These are unusually picturesque places in the Orne river valley - wooded hills 200-300 meters high, Mount Roche d'Etre (Roche d'Oetre) with its human profile, rapids river with walking paths along the banks, a tall multi-arch viaduct, in a word, the most beautiful nature. The weather really matched the places and we had a great day in nature pleasing to the eye. 

   On this day we planned the farthest radial exit - about 400 km in both directions. We headed to the coast of Upper Normandy - the Alabaster Coast (Cote d'Albatre). There are several interesting places here, but, without a doubt, the most remarkable is the resort town of Etretat. In our ranking of attractions, we put this wonderful place as the second number after Mont Saint-Michel.

  On the way to Etretat, we passed the famous Normandy Bridge (Ponte de Nornandie). This grand structure, built in 1995, until 1999 held the record for the longest suspension bridge - 2350 meters. The passage on the bridge is paid - 5.50 euros.

  But here we are in Etretat. Somewhere I read that Etreta in translation into Russian means "farm of the rising sun". The Etretat rocks became world famous after Claude Monet, struck by the beauty of the rocks, immortalized them in his paintings in the 19th century. There are a huge number of photographs of the rocks of Etretat on the Internet. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most photogenic places in the world.

  Imagine a promontory protruding into the sea a hundred meters high. First, a small through hole at the bottom - the so-called baby arch, under which sometimes there is water, sometimes not. At low tide you can walk on the wet sand. Then a larger arch, when the rock breaks into the sea like an elephant's trunk. By the way, Maupassant was the first to notice the similarity. Then a calcareous finger 70 meters high, sticking straight out of the sea at some distance. The French call it "the needle". And, finally, around the turn of the cape, there is another, large limestone arch, the “Gate of Etreta”.


     A hundred meters away is a resort village with a promenade and a beach. I also note that there is no port in Etretat, which makes this place natural and even more attractive.

  We walked along the embankment for a long time, inhaling the fresh sea air filled with the scent of algae, you can climb the mountain, there is a small stone chapel. From above, a wonderful view of the cliff with an arch and the town opens up, it is in front of you - at a glance, small, kind, beautiful ... There, on the mountain, there is a museum dedicated to the first French aviators.

  Leaving Étretat reluctantly, we crossed the Normandy bridge again, but turned towards the coast. We were waiting for Honfleur - another gem of Normandy.

  This ancient port city is best known for its art salons and galleries. But we spent all our time in the old harbor, which simply enchanted us. Surrounded by half-timbered houses with multi-colored doors, cozy restaurants, shops with bottles of cider and Calvados in the window, the carousel and musicians on the embankment are a favorite place for walks of citizens and tourists, beautiful and romantic.
      We still wanted to visit Deauville-Trouville, but we still had a long way to go home . 

    On the first day of autumn, we again moved to Brittany. First we headed for Dol-de-Bratagne. This small town, 15 km from the coast, is known for its architectural sights: the old episcopal center, the Saint-Samson Cathedral (Cathedrale Saint-Samson), a house built in the 11th century and, of course, a string of half-timbered houses. There are two castles in the vicinity of Dol-de-Bretagne: Combourg - Chateaubriand spent his childhood here, Bourbansais (Chateau de la Bourbansais) with a greenhouse and a zoo.


     From Dol-de-Bretagne we moved deep into the area near the peninsula of Dinan and soon parked the car in the center of the Bertrand square (Dinan) du Guesclin, the Breton hero of the Hundred Years' War.

  The walled city is just made for walking. Rue du Jerzval, rising steeply up high river cliffs, is lined with beautiful old half-timbered houses. And from the English Garden (Jardin Anglais) behind the majestic church of Saint-Sauveur (St-Sauveur) offers a wonderful view of the river Rance (Rance), through which a huge viaduct (length 250 m, height 40 m) and a restored Gothic bridge are thrown.


     ). But after some deliberation, we decided to reduce the time on the road, but to visit Saint-Malo once again, and in the evening, after dark, admire the illuminated Mont Saint-Michel.

  We turned north and headed first to Dinard.

  This resort town is called the king of the beaches of Brittany and it also claims to be the Breton answer to Biarritz and Deauville. Dinard is, first of all, a huge number of villas. General principle: the higher the villa and the more majestic the sea view from the window, the more prestigious.

  The city is located along the beach of Ecluse (Plage de l'Ecluse) between two capes: Malouin and Mouline (Pointe du Moulinet). The classics of Dinara resort life are walks from the central square to the sea. This promenade is called Clair du Lune (Moonlight).

  We were not delighted with Dinard: too much high-society pathos. We prefer more democratic resorts like Etretat.

  We spent the rest of the day in Saint-Malo. Taught by past experience, this time we quickly found a parking lot. With great pleasure we walked for a long time along the fortress wall, then along the narrow streets of the so-called inner city "Intra Muros", and in the end - along the city wall, but from the outside.


     And with the evening Mont-Saint-Michel there was a puncture due to our inattention. We relaxed and saw a red light too late, signaling that our Mercy was hungry - it was time to refuel with diesel fuel. And by nine in the evening, all city gas stations are already closed. It's good that it was no more than 15 km to the house. 

    First of all, yesterday's misunderstanding was eliminated - we refueled with diesel fuel at the nearest gas station, and again moved to Brittany, this time to the south, in the direction of Rennes - the capital of Brittany.

  First we went to Fougères, which has long been famous not for the production of wine glasses, as one might think, but for the production of shoes, but we left it aside and went to Vitre.

  A small classically medieval town: a Gothic church of the 15th-16th centuries, a half-timbered ensemble, narrow streets and a well-preserved city wall. Vitre Castle belongs to the medieval classics: 10 pointed turrets, a triangular shape, a moat, a drawbridge. Inside the castle there is a museum with ceramics, tapestries and other attributes of the Middle Ages. 

   And here we are again in Rennes. The center of the Brittany region, the tenth city in France in terms of population (210 thousand, with suburbs 530 thousand). There is one metro line (9 km, 15 stations, trains are fully automated). But all these are attributes of a purely French city. Being the official capital of Brittany, Rennes is devoid of national features. Instead of traditional Breton houses, there are completely Norman half-timbered houses, and in the central squares there is an attempt to surpass or at least copy the splendor of Paris. This is especially felt in the Place du Parlament. In the center is the Palace of Justice, classical houses of the 18th century lined up along the perimeter. And the boulevards in the city center are a clear nod to the Champs Elysees.


     The old part of the city is located in its west. Medieval Breton power is represented by the Porte Mordelaise gate, next to the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre (St-Pierre). Also nearby is the long Place de Lices. Once upon a time, knightly tournaments were held here, where the star of Bertrand du Guesclin rose. And in the neighboring lanes - very familiar and quite Norman half-timbered houses. 

  On the way home, when it was already dark, we again drove up to Mont Saint-Michel and looked for a long time at the massive island illuminated as if by gold. An impressive sight! 


    On this day we again rushed to the coast of Normandy.

  On the already well-known A84, we quickly flew to Caen, went around it again along the ring road and jumped out on the A13, then at the Pont-l'Eveque fork we went north towards Deauville - Trouville ).

  Having passed the famous hippodrome Touque (Hippodrome la Touques), we slowed down at a roundabout, deciding where to go: left - Deauville, right - Trouville.

  Although these two towns have long merged into a de facto single resort metropolis, Deauville plays a leading role. It is he who is considered the most pretentious city of Normandy and opposes the Cote d'Azur. Trouville, on the other hand, is an appendage of Deauville, but is an “elder brother”, since it began to develop earlier.

  So, on the left are the luxurious villas of Deauville along the banks of the bay with many yachts, on the right are the old buildings of Trouville on the hilly bank of the Touques River. Trouville attracted us more and we turned right. There was also a pointer to the station, by the way, one station for both cities (Gare de Douville-Trouville). Near the station, we first parked the car, but then decided to go deeper into Trouville.

  We drove over the bridge over the river that actually separates Deauville and Trouville, and moved along the embankment, where that day there was a lot of trade in a variety of stalls filled with all sorts of things and products.

  Then, when we returned after two in the afternoon, the embankment sparkled with cleanliness, as if there was no bazaar.

  And we found parking closer to the seashore in the square near the casino. Here we went to the famous, as we decided at the beginning, Planche boardwalk (Promenade des Planches). But then we remembered that we were in Trouville, and that famous promenade with signs of celebrities' names on beach cabanas was in Deauville. It turned out that there is a boardwalk of the same name in Trouville. Nevertheless, we enjoyed walking here. We paid attention to the ball court filled with players: something reminiscent of both golf and croquet, only without clubs. A very popular game among the French. We saw the same fields in Paris in the Tuileries Garden.

  Finishing the walk in Trouville, we checked into one of the small, but surprisingly cozy, home-style cafes. We tasted, as usual, excellent coffee and, most importantly, cakes with wild berries.

  From Trouville we drove along the seashore, first through Deauville, then through a string of small resort towns Blonville (Blonville-sur-Mere), Ville (Villers-sur-Mere), Houlgate (Houlgate) with a series of Victorian villas, and finally settled in Cabourg. We parked the car near the Grand Hotel with the famous casino, where Marcel Proust liked to visit. Then they imperceptibly joined the stream of idle walkers along the Promenade Marcel Proust.

  From Cabourg we moved to Caen, where we spent the rest of the day before leaving for home. The city is not remembered for anything special, although this is probably unfair, since there are interesting places here: the male abbey of Saint-Etienne (Abbatial Saint-Etienne), the female abbey of Trinite (Eglise de la Trinite), the castle (Chateau de Caen), Memorial Museum of the World (Memorial de Caen), etc.

  But we have reached a point of satiety, which is often on a relatively long journey. We should have seen something special, but it didn't happen in Caen.

    It was the last day at the Montague farm. Only in the middle of the day we went to the town of Vire, which is 35 km from the farm. The guidebook says that this town is famous for its signature pork sausages and river salmon. But nothing of the sort was found. We limited ourselves to a sort of French-Italian dinner: onion soup for the first and spaghetti for the second. With that, they returned home. Tomorrow we leave the Montague farm and start our journey home.

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