a college student's five month quest to see europe and soak in la vie française

a college student's five month quest to see europe and soak in la vie française

Monday, March 15, 2010


our excursion to normandy was a long haul: early wake-ups, hours spent on a freezing bus, cranky professors yelling at us to speak only in french. there were definitely parts of the trip that i would have done differently if i'd been traveling by myself but the moments of the trip that went right made all the others worth it. saint malo and mont saint michel were beautiful but it was the american cemetery at normandy that really took my breath away. the second we set foot in the area, which is territory owned by the united states, we could all tell we had left france for a moment. i can't put my finger on exactly what it was — the layout of the museum? the bathroom stalls wide enough for obese americans? — but there was an immediate lift in spirits among the group. without further ado, some highlights of our trip:
the fortified village of saint malo.
view from behind the walls.
hanging out on the fortress. from left to right: carl, annie, denise, maika, and valerie.
mont saint michel from afar.
courtyard at mont saint michel.
monastery at mont saint michel.
stained glass windows in the cathedral at bayeux.
remnants from d-day on the beach at normandy.
entering the american cemetery.
a handful of the 9,000 crosses in the cemetery.
it felt like no angle could capture the number of white crosses. they just went on and on.
and on and on.
an unknown soldier.
pretty trees overlooking the american cemetery.
the altered landscape at pointe du hoc, where bomb craters offer unsettling proof of the battle that occurred here.
german bunker.
view from pointe du hoc.
kids playing in bomb craters. this should provide an idea of scale... the craters were huge.
the german cemetery. the gravestones (each of the squares on the ground — the five crosses are just statues) were engraved with the soldiers' dates of birth (unlike the american cemetery) and the number of 17-, 18-, and 19-year-old soldiers killed was truly disturbing.
le musée de la paix... interesting way to conclude our weekend of studying the second world war.
the gallery of nobel peace prize winners.


  1. Stunning. Great shots. I found Normandy to be a haunting place. It was sad that such a beautiful location could be home to so much human anger and death. Each crater a dire reminder to learn from the past so that we don't repeat it.

    Completely understand what you described as feeling like you had left France upon entering the American cemetery. All the paths seem to lead back to or embrace the stark white graves.

  2. It's great seeing this from another's perspective! I loved the American cemetery too, and I'm not even American :)


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