Day 2: Caen/Bayeux
The first lesson of the day was how to eat breakfast like the French. Basically, get some delicious homemade bread, spread some local soft cheeses on it, top that with a bit of fresh jam and — bam! — you’ve got yourself a spectacular culinary wake-up call.
After breakfast, we considered taking a quick walk around the cliffs again, but the “sea mist” (warm air mixed with the cold ocean water) created a thick blanket of fog to block any views. Estelle said because the tide was already low, the fog was likely to stick around for a while, so… not a problem, we packed up and got a head start towards Bayeux.
Our route to Bayeux took us near the port cities of Le Havre and Honfleur, and then into Caen. As we zipped around the city on the “peripherique route,” it occurred to us that today would be a great time to visit the Caen-Normandie MÃƒÂ©morial, rather than backtrack tomorrow or Sunday. We punched in the new address to the handy GPS and found the museum right away.
The Caen-Normandie MÃƒÂ©morial is dedicated to the Battle for Normandy and the complete history of WWII. The location has memorial gardens, and is situated above the bunker the 716th German Infantry Division used as the headquarters during the Occupation and the Battle of Normandy. The 70-meter long bunker is still standing as an exhibit, and the museum is literally built on top of it.
After about five informative and occasionally sobering hours, we covered the entire museum, the video presentation, the German bunker, and the extra wing of the museum focusing on how WWII transitioned into the Cold War. We even stopped by the bistro and the book shop.
With the Caen Memorial successfully in the books, we continued onward to Bayeux. Keeping with our tradition of coincidentally planning stays in towns with festivals, it turns out our B&B in Bayeux is one block away from the town’s annual Midieval Festival — Les Medievales de Bayeux! Our place is so downtown, we were initially turned away by security guards shutting down the streets for the 8PM parade.
Which brings us to the second lesson of the day… leveraging our printed maps (preparation!) and the French version of our hotel confirmation (bonus preparation!) to convince two friendly security guards to let us past the blockade into the downtown area. After passing that test, we quickly checked in, dropped off our bags, and went out to find the aformentioned parade.
After the parade, we walked around the booths a bit and found dinner. We ordered sausage and chicken sandwiches with a couple of cidres (in French!), and although my knowledge of numbers in French is limited to Hamilton lyrics, we eventually managed to pay.
Enjoying a few more views of the festival and surroundings, we walked back to our room for the night. The festival lasts all weekend, so I’m sure we will find our way back. It is just around the corner, after all.