We woke to a cool August rain at Camping De Vrolijk, packed the car, and headed out for the 460-mile, 9-hour scenic drive to Caen, France. My favorite Dutchman offered to drive since I drove on our last road trips in Scotland and Belgium, and I was happy to zone out and watch the landscape change from Netherlands, through Belgium, and onto France.
Pont de Normandie
The most notable part of the drive was passing over Pont de Normandie, the cable-stayed bridge linking Le Havre to Honfleur, spanning the river Seine. As you approach, it feels like it goes straight up (my picture from the passenger seat does NOT do it justice). Lucky for us campers, this drive was the last we’d see of rain until reaching Italy 12 days later.
Beaches of Normandy
Waking up to sunny skies at Le Champ de Course in Courseulles-sur-Mer was an amazing way to start our time in France. We quickly prioritized seeing the beaches of Normandy over any other activity, and headed out to the American beach.
On our way to Omaha beach we stopped off at Arromanches, the beach where the Allies established a temporary harbor after D-Day to unload heavy equipment without waiting for the conquest of deep water ports.
I’m not sure anyone could be prepared for the experience of stepping onto the beach where D-Day happened, or the sheer scale of crosses lining the horizon as far as the eye can see. It was pretty powerful and moving. There remains a feeling of gratefulness throughout this area of France, with flags, signs, and memorials thanking the Allies for freeing the French from their occupiers. The main memorial was flanked with diagrams explaining military operations and the development of the beachhead.
Bayeux Cathedral and Gardens
We spent the afternoon walking around the pretty town of Bayeux where we checked out Bayeux Cathedral, the oldest-half timbered house in town, and the public gardens. After a heavy morning, the gardens were just what we needed to decompress before heading back to camp.
Corseulles sur Mer
After driving around aimlessly searching for a supermarket that was open on a Sunday, we gave up, headed back to camp to relax, and then walked into town to grab some dinner and check out the beach on the coast of Nacre.
We spent our last day in Normandy staying close to camp in Corseulles sur Mer, stocking up on groceries, hanging at the beach (which we had all to ourselves), and touring this cute coastal town.
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