It is incredible that five weeks have already passed by and only another five remain. The past week and a half we have been on spring break, and it continues until the next Monday. Three sets of weekends and two sets of weekdays! It is long. Over the break, all of the Passepartout kids and their families went first to Caen for the weekend, then Paris the next.
Caen, April 8th-9th
We left on Saturday morning to drive to Caen, which was about a two and a half hour drive which took about 4 hours since we got lost and there were two different traffic diversions. We arrived at Pointe du Hoc, a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy that had been filled (or emptied, come to think of it) with craters after being bombed as part of the WW2 D-Day invasion. There were destroyed fragments of bunkers and crawl-spaces littered about, as well as a monument constructed at the top of one fairly intact bunker.
We visited many museums, went to the water’s edge on Omaha Beach, and visited the American Cemetery, filled with thousands of white crosses and star tombstones for the men who lost their lives during the invasion and the months that followed. While at the cemetery, we happened to visit at the same time as a group of young French Marines, with whom we took a picture and they sang a song in a Pacific language in memorial. What an experience. Although it was my second time visiting Normandy, it was still stunning, and I was glad to see the historical monuments again.
Paris, April 15th, 16th, and 17th
Paris, the largest city in France, and only a three hour drive from Chateau Gontier! Again, we left on Saturday morning and met up with all the families when we arrived. The French sure know how to vacation – they vacation hard! Long days and early mornings, but that means more time do to things. After arriving in Paris, we hit the streets immediately, taking the metro from our hotel on the outskirts of the city to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the Opera building, then stopped for dinner in a French café. Day Two was even more: 22 kilometers of walking and even more kilometers by metro! We saw the Grand and Small Palais, the Arc de Triomphe, walked down the Champs Elysées, saw the Concord, ate a picnic lunch in the Tuileries, saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and toured Notre Dame Cathedrale. On Day Three, we went to the Eiffel Tower, took a Bateaux-Mouches boat tour on the Seine, and did the funky wax-figure museum, the Musée Grevin. After a long weekend of walking, experiencing the big things in Paris, and being in a group of 14 people the whole time, it was nice to get back to the house and have a long night of sleep. The country and the city sure are different, and I’m lucky to have experienced them both with my French family.