Birthday in Normandy.

This view is from Pointe du Hoc looking west toward Utah Beach…rangers climbed these cliffs to capture German gun emplacements.

The whole idea behind our river cruise was to experience Normandy…the landings from 1944.  There is no way to describe this from “seeing” it and the photos of it.  Being here allows you to experience the beauty of the countryside, which can be seen as very “peaceful” now, as it was then..a farming community nearby the sea.  But, the “hell” of war is explained in many moving ways here…worth the visit to gain the appreciation of the history.DSC_0066

The reverence at the American Cemetery is provided by an immense effort of caring for the place…although managed by Americans, it is French (still and forever grateful French) who provide the care.DSC_0030

The tide was full at Omaha Beach for us that day, but the fog was rolling in (despite weather that was sunny and mid-70’s just a hundred yards away…just like the morning of the 6th of June 1944).  Here are Dick & Chris Oliver, spellbound by the thoughts of the men landing and the battle here.DSC_5278

Although we concentrated on the American landing, there are signs of the UK and Canadian part of this time on Normandy’s beaches and for the French resistance and their role in making the idea a success.

We first saw the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc (pictured behind the day’s title page)….and absorbed the idea of the earliest landing of that day.DSC_0008


As, I mentioned, it seems to be a place of great peace…look at the cliffs though.  Imagine the climb under enemy fire.DSC_0013

Then, we drove to the middle of the beach area – and saw Arromanches – the bay where they constructed a huge harbor in just a couple of weeks.  This place then received 2 million fighting men and all the equipment needed to fight the battles of Normandy, then the rest of France…until such time as regular Atlantic harbors could be secured (Le Havre and Cherbourg, also in Normandy.


Here are pieces kept as memorials to this harbor – 70+ years in the sea.  This is the east end of the new floating harbor.


Almost a mile west completes the Allies’ new harbor, the pieces had been dragged over from England through the night and day of D-day and was completed as a huge semi-circle off this beach at Arromanches in just a couple of weeks.


Here’s Nancy looking at the place…it’s now a beach resort as well as a monument.  Not much beach action today in the fog.DSC_5326

On to Omaha Beach next….the fog really had come in this day.  One of our group from the Avalon Waterways tour is going to the beach to collect some sand.

And, then, the American Cemetery is our day’s final destination.  Every inch of this place will move you to tears and emotions about the enormity of this whole seacoast in the world’s history.  Certainly all of our lives have been possible because of this one enormous battle in Normandy.

DSC_0047“This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed.”

You can see below just how the fog had moved in on the north (English Channel) breezes.  And the maps show where we were today – Pointe du Hoc between Omaha and Utah beaches, where to Americans concentrated plus Arromanches, where the Allies collaborated as never before on building the supply lines harbor.  And, the flags tell the story of the most powerful team ever assembled who ultimately prevailed together.

This is a visit worth the trip for sure.  Thanks to all of those who made this effort for us.





Lifelong Philadelphia area Realtor. Now a 13-year citizen of Sanibel, Florida. Married to Nancy for 54 years. Three children (2 in Devon; 1 in Steamboat Springs, CO) and 5 grandkids (2 in college). Helping with charities involving poverty, kids and education.


  • Loved Visiting Normandy but understand the following to be the case.
    The 70 acre site at Omaha Beach was granted for life by France to the United States. This was done because the French were not maintaining the site and it had been all but forgotten as the other landing sites have been.
    It was given to the US and is considered US property.
    This allowed the US to erect the memorials and maintain the site properly.
    What were you told?


    • That sounds like sour grapes from some Americans who have never experienced the French sense of gratitude, which permeates the Normandy landing area. And, who better to have control of our own graveyard? Given the choice, over 9,000 families chose to have their loved ones buried near the site of their greatest achievements. Don’t think that would have happened, if it was an unkempt mess as the “legend” suggests.



  • Thanks Chip,

    Very moving, and the foggy weather seems to have set the stage for your visit. Seeing Normandy has to have made overcoming all your travel complications worth the effort. Blair has done it but it is now definitely on “our” list.

    Safe travels home…



    • Thanks, Dennis…I would encourage your visit. Knowing you and having your lady as a guide; it will be a lifetime experience for you.


    • …and, the complications were all overcome before we got there by the Avalon folks…so, we enjoyed every minute and did all but one thing they had on the schedule. The traffic jam in Paris yesterday was our only moment of “pain in the butt”, but was caused by the 3-week long Euro 2016 championship soccer tournament and opening gala concert last night right at the Eiffel Tower…that was on the way to our hotel. Security is tight…thankfully.


  • My former neighbor fought for us there… now, 91… and was again Master of Ceremonies at our town Memorial Day parade and service. He’s an amazing man. For years, he never said a word about his war years. Finally, he realized how important it was for all of us to learn about it. He speaks at schools ~ his stories are unbelievable. He has returned to Normandy and honored several times. bj


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