As you are no doubt aware, this past week saw our second (and also second-longest) excursion: Normandy! Having prepared in advance for the various things and places we were going to see, it goes without saying that the stagiaires were eager to see what Normandy had to offer. With that said, let's jump in and get a better idea of what our two days in Normandy were like.
On Thursday morning, we gathered at Place Robien, overnight bags and lunches in hand, and set out for the first of our several destinations.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most well-known historical sites of north-western France. (I would say 'Brittany', but I might offend some people in Normandy by doing so, as the fight for ownership continues to this day - a sentiment that this picture demonstrates well.) If you are interested in learning more about the history of this site (which is very interesting!) you can click here.
Once we arrived at Mont Saint-Michel, it was a short hike to the summit to see the Abby. Once we reached the top, the stagiaires split into groups and had a chance to explore not only the Abby, but the rest of Mont Saint-Michel as well. Naturally, before leaving, we took a moment to get a group photo in front of the Mont.
After our visit, before heading to Bayeux, we took a moment to enjoy both the nice weather and a bite to eat. (I think I might have caught some of the stagiaires off-guard with my picture taking!)
After we were fully nourished, it was off to our next destination!
A quaint and charming city, Bayeux has a lot to offer. Although the main attraction is the famous Bayeux Tapestry, our first destination was the Bayeux Cathedral. Known as a "gem of the Normand architecture," the cathedral is really a sight to behold.
After seeing the cathedral, it was off to see the tapestry. If you're not familiar with the tapestry, click here and see what it's all about! Given the fact that the tapestry was made in the 11th century, photos were, regrettably, not allowed. During my search for the previous link, however, I found a site that shows the tapestry in its entirety, panel by panel. You can find that here.
Before heading to the hostel to call it a night, we headed to Thursday's final destination.
La Pointe du Hoc
Having read about la Pointe du Hoc while preparing for the excursions, each stagiaire was familiar with the history of the site. Seeing the landscape littered with craters and bunkers in person, however, is a different experience completely.
After spending some time exploring the site, it was off to the hostel for dinner and some rest. Once we arrived, however, we were met with a pleasant surprise...
Les Brestois !
Shortly after our arrival, the group from Brest also arrived, having just finished their own full day of adventures. Once many a "bonjour" was said and hugs and bises were given, we all headed into the hostel to put away our belongings and eat a bit of dinner. Following dinner, both groups headed down to the nearby beach for a bit of fun. During our time on the beach, some stagiaires played frisbee, others played pétanque, and even a few danced a little Charleston with me (more about that to come in a future post!).
|Thanks to Alisha from the Brest group for this photo!|
After waking up again early and enjoying a bit of breakfast, we bid farewell to our friends from Brest and started our second day in Normandy.
Our first stop of the day, La Cambe, a German Military Cemetery dedicated to peace, is arguably one of the most important things we see during our time in Normandy. Although we often speak of the many American, Canadian, and English (among others) soldiers who lost their lives in Normandy during the war, what we sometimes fail to realize is that, although the German soldiers were the enemy, they were also young men who lost their lives fighting for their country. In addition to this, seeing the contrast between this cemetery and the American cemetery is truly incredible.
|Learning about La Cambe|
Normandy American Cemetery and Omaha Beach
After seeing La Cambe, we headed to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial to pay homage to the Americans who lost their lives during the Second World War. While visiting the cemetery, the stagiaires also had the chance to walk down to Omaha Beach, one of the American landing sites during Operation Overlord.
After our time at the cemetery, we headed out to our last stop: the Caen Memorial. While here, the stagiaires had the chance to learn more about 20th century history and see the progression from desperation to hope as the memorial lead them forward through time.
After we finished our visit, it was back to Saint-Brieuc for some well-deserved rest.
All in all, the excursion went very well. Not only was it very informative, but the stagiaires also seemed to really appreciate the importance the sites we visited.
I believe that is all I have for you right now. I will be updating shortly to fill you in on all of the neat activities we've been doing so far, so stay tuned! We also have a couple events happening later this week, including our visit to the Mayor's office and our Breton dance night, so you can expect an update about those as well.
p.s. There were a couple extra pictures! Check them out here.