From Paris, we hopped on a train to Caen. (Did you know that if you tell a lovely French women at a front desk that you want to go to Caen, she may hear your pronunciation and think that you want to go to Cannes and immediately work exasperatingly hard to book you a ticket? And then when finally understanding that you don't, in actuality, want to go Cannes, but instead to Caen, she may make fun of you with her eyes in the way that only a true Parisian woman can do? Hypothetically speaking, of course.) We weren't sure what to expect from our time in Normandy, but it truly was one of our very favorite stops. The landscape was lush and perfectly unkept, the villages were cozy, and the people were unbelievably kind.
We spent the first night in the charming village of Bayeux and headed to the D-Day Museum and Cemetery the following day. The museum was beautifully moving and an unexpected favorite of mine, and I don't think I'm being dramatic when I say that it shifted things just a bit for me. It was immensely special to observe Rob there as well, as his patriotism and love for military history runs deep, and I know how powerful it was for him to be able to put eyes on such an important part of history. After the museum and cemetery, we walked down to Omaha Beach. It was early in the afternoon and so there were only a few people there - a small family and their dog, and an older couple going for a swim- and it seemed the perfect way to honor the thousands of lives lost there. Those simple acts - a young boy and his dog, playing, and a retired couple sunbathing- well, those are the very simple joys and freedoms that those soldiers fought for. I'm so glad that, if even for a few hours, we were able to pay our respects to the many lost lives by being in the present, digging our toes in the sand, and enjoying the beautiful day we'd been given.
From Omaha Beach, we drove into the country side of Lower Normandy and spent three days and nights at the absolutely perfect Hotel d'une ile. We explored several smaller villages in the surrounding area and I got to fulfill my life-long dream of going to a French flea market. We also tracked down some Brocantes (secondhand shops) and did our best to barter with the very little French we had picked up. In between the wandering and exploring, we drank some cider, ate lots of Camembert cheese, and I tried my first duck confit. All in all, Normandy was one of the true treasures of our trip. It somehow just felt like home.