Tuesday, September 3

I tour the WWII beaches and have a nice dinner with some new friends.

Breakfast. Just coffee so far. Big all day tour of beaches later. This hotel is fantastic. Had no idea when I made the reservation. Planning fish for dinner. It's fun to live this upper crust kind of life for a few days. Definitely not used to it! Wonder how much it's costing. Everything is going on the room bill. Will find out when I check out I guess. Don't much care. Blowout vacation of a lifetime. Waiter just came by with trays of fresh croissants. Merci Monsieur! Wish you were here, this is way cool.

So why do I feel so out of place in the grands magasins but not in a place like this? And that barkeep was right - the people up here in Normandy are much more gentil et tranquille than back in Paris. Still like Paris though!

Sun is rising. In jardin with coffee now. Cat jumped up on bench to say good morning and get a little pet. Met the owner of the cat. The cat's name is Tigre.

Waiting at the Bayeux train station for the tour van with another American couple. Not quite as big as Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris.

Much confusion with tour company. Several incomprehensible phone calls. Van finally showed up very late. Was supposed to have full day tour but ended up with only half a day version. But that's OK.

It was an extremely emotional day. I'm going to post the many pictures with almost no comments. We all know the story and the pictures say more than I ever could. Two packs of mouchoirs, plus a few more when I posted the pics.

Our guide François was excellent. He had a big book of old photos and talked at length about the history of the battle of Normandy.

When François was a little kid he and his buddies would play soldiers at these scenes. The big problem was that nobody ever wanted to play the Germans. So sometimes they'd let the girls come along, but only if they'd be the Germans. Can you imagine that?

Pointe du Hoc, midway between Utah and Omaha beaches. This German gun had enough range to reach both Utah and Omaha beaches.

Those are bomb craters.

Omaha beach. Unimaginable. Every American needs to come here, to remember.

Our guide François used this laminated map to tell us about the history, along with a thick book of laminated photos. He was full of interesting stories, some of them very personal. Great fellow. You can see the front seat of our van underneath the map.

Told François that I completed my course with "un note de quinze virgule dix". (A grade of 15.10). He gave me an approving look, raised his eyebrows, and said "pas mal!". This is high praise in French. I TOLD YOU it was a good grade! Or maybe he was just being nice to a client.

The tour was in English because the other three people were also Americans. François lived in England for 15 yeas, as he told us "because of a girl."

The American cemetery. This is actually American soil. The French gave it to us as a way of saying merci.

Please feel free to make fun of me. In fact, I insist upon it. Turns out that getting your hair cut by a nice young Frenchwoman is not after all the most horrible thing in the world.

Had to go into a bar for une verre de vin pour le courage before I was brave enough to go inside.

No screams, just a nice conversation with the young lady in my perfect most charming French. Had her calling me Jean-Louis before she was done. Had to come up here all the way from Paris just to get my hair cut.

Before.

After. Not as handsome as Deo Campos, but then nobody is. But now I'm worried that it's too short.

Not a bad place to hang out on a perfect late summer afternoon, with a little café and the pad.

The nice salon in my hotel. I'm in search of a before dinner cocktail. The pictures are signed photos of famous people who have stayed here. That's John Wayne over the fireplace.

Scored a cocktail - something tasty involving Kir. Long conversation with nice couple from Kansas City in the jardin. Mean black cat showed up and is not being nice with my Tigre, who was innocently playing with a very big bug.

Went out to dinner with the couple from Kansas City. Lovely evening. I was told that I should hang around more with people my own age, so I took a picture for proof.

My dessert. Looks good, doesn't it?