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Monday, June 30, 2014

Majestic Mont Saint-Michel

It rises majestically out of the sea like a fairy tale castle from The Little Mermaid. 
It is the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. Built during medieval times off the coast of Normandy it has served as an abbey, monastery, fortress and prison. 

Because of it's unique location on a tiny island when the tide comes in it is completely surrounded by water making it accessible only by a walkway.

The main chapel is at the very top of the mount with smaller chapels, great halls, kitchens, and crypts below. So, to get to the top one must climb and climb. 

This is the interior of one of the Great Halls. One could easily get lost inside the maze of  hallways and stairwells.

The views from the top are spectacular and a bit dizzying! The weather was a bit overcast and rain threatened but never materialized.

At the bottom of the mount there are souvenir shops and restaurants aplenty. I had my first, but not not my last croque monsieur  sandwich here.
Mont-St-Michel - Main Road - La Grande Rue

If you are planning  a trip to Normandy you MUST include a visit to Mont Saint Michele. It was truly one of the highlights of our visit to France.
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Monday, June 23, 2014

D-Day 70th Anniversary

My husband and I just returned from a fabulous 3 weeks in France and Switzerland. Scott sings with a community choir The Sonoran Desert Chorale based out of Mesa, Arizona. The choir was invited to sing at several of the events celebrating the 70th anniversary of D-Day or the Allied invasion of Normandy. This was an exciting yet humbling experience.

As soon as we landed in Paris we boarded a chartered bus to Normandy. Our first stop was the American Cemetery and visitors center. It sits at the top of  the cliffs overlooking Utah and Omaha beaches where the soldiers landed. 

Because of the special anniversary all of Normandy was buzzing with activity. Many veterans were there in uniform as well as folks dressed up in period costume to remember and honor those brave men and women.

 Scott with his Utah cap atop Utah beach.

 A mannequin of a paratrooper remains hanging from the spires at the beautiful cathedral at Saint Mer Eglise, where in reality a US trooper got caught and spent the night watching the fighting from high above the square. In the cathedral my favorite stained glass window also honors those paratroopers.

Many vintage airplanes kept "buzzing" the town all afternoon as crowds enjoyed speeches from local authorities, military reviews and the Sonoran Chorale concert in the cathedral.

The German military had built large concrete bunkers at the top of the cliffs and this is where they fired their assault on the allied forces as they landed on the beaches.
We stayed at a convent in Bayeux that has been converted to a guest house. The sisters spelled out their thanks to us with large sheets in the courtyard. 

These young men were from Norway and come to participate in the celebrations.

I met this charming Scottish gentleman who participated in the invasion. He told me his birthday was June 5, one day before the actual landing. He had just turned 21 on that fateful day. 
I was able to share with him that my own new grandson Jeffrey Scott Stebar was born today June 6, 2014. Our own D-Day landing!
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