Carol has caught a cold. Naturally enough, this has led to galloping hypochondria in me – though I do feel a little bunged up – not good preparation for the Duo Normand. So we both felt a bit under the weather (in contrast, today was the finest weather of the trip so far – very sunny and warm all day) as we set off in the car for Le Molay-Littry, where we planned to leave the car before pedalling off for Port-en-Bessain Huppain. This was a town that we’d always passed through rather than investigated in its own right. Actually it has a fine working fishing harbour which bustles with activity. We stopped there for Moules and frites. Also we picked up a pair of almond croissants for later consumption.
Trundling west along the coast, we stopped briefly at the Omaha Beach military cemetery, always a sobering sight, particularly when you see the long list of names of soldiers whose bodies weren’t identified. There’s a profusion of Omaha beach related places along the cast road, ranging from small museums to collections of miscellaneous WW2 hardware to campsites and pizzerias. It’s a bit hard to identify where to actually get down to the beach.
Further along the coast, we stopped in Vierville sur Mer where the Omaha beach landings began. It’s an astonishing long beach with a few people sunbathing, seagulls standing around, and with a banked set of duns on which holiday homes perch, punctuated by the occasional relic of the German ‘Atlantic Wall’. We paused here for a bit, to eat the almond croissants. It was pretty hard to imagine such a peaceful scene was the site of such ferocious fighting during the D-day landings.
Turning inland, we passed an enormous iron bridge brought by the D-Day forces. It wasn’t obvious whether it was used in the actual landings or later in the campaign – in any event we couldn’t stop for a proper look as we were being chased up a steep climb by traffic. On the other hand, incoming traffic was all slowing to have a good gawp.
From there it was a pretty straightforward ride back to Le Molay to collect the car. An excellent day’s ride, with lots of time to pause for the sights (and smells!) of the Normandy countryside.