Normandy

Normandy is a fabulous place to visit not just because of it being in France but because of the huge amount of history you can learn about there. During our last trip to France we stayed for couple days  in the city of Bayeux.
After reading many reviews I chose the Aggarthi B & B or here as our home for the stay. When we arrived off the train in Bayeux we had just completed a long journey (12h 35m flight travel time from US and another 2 hours by train). I am not sure if any cabs were waiting but for some reason we decided to walk to the bed and breakfast with our backpacks. We were both tired and both cranky. Carlos was especially tired since he has a hard time sleeping on flights. I had a badly designed map and we headed down what we thought was the right direction. We ended up getting confused and going the wrong way. After stopping to rest for a little bit we headed off to finally find our B & B. The owners greeted us and we knew we had found the right place.
Our room was in a building separate to the main building and contained 2-3 rooms and a small kitchen. I believe every room was an ensuite. Our room was on the bottom floor and had doors that opened into the courtyard. We would open it occasionally for the fresh air but kept it closed mostly because of privacy and security concerns.
Onsite was two dogs (one named Sushi), cats, and some bunnies who kept the grass cut and maintained (see below).

Sushi was adorable
We enjoyed waking to breakfast in the courtyard where we fought honey bees for our food (they are harmless so we were ok). Over breakfast conversation we talked to some German tourists about history and WWII. They felt the need to apologize for Germany during the war. We told them that was way in the past and does not reflect on Germans now.
Later on in the day we walked over to Bayeux Cathedral to admire to stained glass windows and inside the church.

We enjoyed medieval style buildings.

Buildings with pigeon nests.

The cathedral was luminous for a night light show.

The next day we took a D-Day tour with Victory Tours. This Dutch expatriate loved the area and history so much that he decide to stay and start a tour company.

Mulberry Harbor
We started our tour with a visit to the Mulberry Harbor which was created at  Omaha Beach and Arromanches in Normandy. We saw pictures of how it looked when it was constructed. This harbor was developed by the British to assist with unloading cargo during WWII.

We saw some guns used in battle.

Omaha Beach

Where the Americans were to take the Germans during D-Day.

Our tour guide told us to take back a rock from this beach to remember the occasion.

US WW2 Cemetery at Colleville
We had a solemn visit to the cemetery that honors American troops who died in Europe during World War II.

We visited Pointe du Hoc where 2nd. Rangers Battalion scaled the cliffs.

Bunkers

Angoville-au-Plain

Church that was used by army medics as an aide station. There are now stained glass windows to commemorate the 101st Airborne division who treated both American and German soldiers here.

This stained glass window honors the paratroopers.

After the visit to the medic church we stopped in the town of Sainte-Mère-Église.  We were there during market day. We had some time to walk around and see the produce at the market.

By the market in Sainte-Mère-Église lies the church of the paratrooper. There were many casualties in this town for the paratroopers who landed here early on around D-day. Many were shot down in air or caught hanging on trees. The church here memorializes those whose live were lost. There is even a “paratrooper” hanging from the church today.

We heard stories about the war on our tour. One was story about two soldiers, one American and one German. One spared the others life while he was retreating from battle. Somehow they found each other many years later in France and were thankful. A story like this paints a human picture on what was a horrific war that many lives were sacrificed for.
Coincidently it is the 70th anniversary of D-Day and this paratrooper is going to parachute back into Normandy, well because he still can. He is a 93-year old vet of D-Day.

Later we had dinner at this restaurant call La Rapiere, which I thought had a real funny name. Turns out I guess it means sword in French. Nothing much exciting there.

The last day we visited the Bayeux tapestry (no pictures). It was my second visit there (I came once before during a tour in 1995) but it is still amazing the second time around. It tells the story of the Battle of Hastings from the Norman point of view. The events leading up to battle are woven in detail. While it is not certain when this woven cloth (not actually a tapestry), 70 meters long, was made, it is assumed it was made around 1070. The cloth today is in a museum and an audio guide takes you through each section. It is like a history lesson of the Norman conquest of England…in pictures.
I highly suggest Normandy be added to your next French adventure. There aren’t many areas that can rival the rich history you will find here – and the views of the coast aren’t bad as well.

Arles

Our visit to Arles in Provence, France started with our check in to this budget hotel.

And this was the view from our window.

Arles is a former roman town that is partly famous for one of its famous temporarily inhabitants.

Vincent van Gogh produced over 300 works during his time there. Arles was not my favorite town in Provence but it was still pleasurable visit.

 More pigeon houses?

The Roman Amphitecture. 
We were able to see some interesting bullgames here.

Espace Van Gogh

 Roman baths.

 The trail along the river that we liked to take.

Chateau De Versailles

In August 2010, my husband and I had a lovely trip to the Palace of Versailles. It is a very easy day trip by train from Paris. I tried visiting the palace once before in 1995 but had a terrible flu. July heat and unbearable crowded made it a very unpleasant day for me. My August visit was much more enjoyable. We were even able to see the musical fountains which were amazing. Looking over the photos reminded me that Rick Steves had some bad advice on how to buy tickets in his 2010 book. I have been meaning to email him about that. Ha!
Here are some photos of that day.


Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Our visit to Disneyland Paris in August 2010 during our trip to France.
It is an easy train ride from Paris for a day trip. I recommend buying your tickets in advance and getting there prior to the gates opening. We lost an hour waiting in line to buy tickets to get in. Prepare to spend much of your day waiting in lines…even at the food counters. Service isn’t efficient there. All and all it was a nice day at the park.

The guests can totally sit in the planters during shows

Seriously. I used to work at Magic Kingdom in Orlando doing crowd control and this would NEVER happen there. I don’t think my former cast members would believe me unless they saw this pic.

Stage show 

Show went back and forth between French and English.

Its a Small World

Sorry about the blur…I am still getting used to my new DSLR.

Fantasyland

The rest of these were taken with the phone and are of bad quality. I guess I got tired of using the fancy camera?

Haunted Mansion

Thunder Mountain

 Tomorrowland

The most painful Space Mountain I have ever been on.

Seriously. Do not go on this unless you like having your head banged around painfully and want to walk off with a concussion. Our heads were throbbing post ride.
 

 Snow White

 Alice’s psychedelic labyrinth

This whole area felt like a strange psychedelic trip. We liked spending time wandering around here.

 The Storybook ride

Such a cute ride, even the one in Disneyland in California.

 Casey Jr

A cute train ride with a catchy tune.

Les Baux

 Les Baux-de-Provence

In 2010 we had a day trip to  Les Baux-de-Provence in France. We arrived via a 40 minute bus ride from Arles, the town we were staying in. The lure of Les Baux is its facinating castle fortification at the top of the hill and its delightful medieval town below. After a day wandering around the castle and town, we gorged ourselves with some yummy cookies.

 One of the interesting things about European history is their use of pigeons for eating and messaging. You can see the holes in the structure for the birds.

Notre Dame and Père Lachaise

During our August 2010 trip to Paris we spent some time at both the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery and the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. Below are the pictures from our visit.

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery

 I have a slight obsession with old cemetaries, especially ones with family crypts. A visit to the famous Pere-Lachaise Cemetery did not disappoint me. It felt other worldly. The scenery was beautiful and the gardens were peaceful. We only allocated an hour or two here but I could have spent much more time. Numerous famous greats from literature are resting here as well as the mysterious and talented Jim Morrison.

Jim Morrison’s final resting place.

This one looks middle-earthy.

The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit. -Moliere

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

The Notre Dame cathedral is amazing as well. This was my second visit and I am still in awe of the stained glass windows here.
I apologize for the blurry photos. The camera was new and I was still learning how to shoot in low light.