Normandy: War-Torn Yet Full of Life
Hi. I'm Rick Steves continuing to, explore more, of the best of Europe this, time we're in Northwest, France enjoying, Normandy, friendly, locals crepes, camembert, water, lilies and big, Abbey's thanks, for joining us. Well. It's seen more than its share of war today Normandy, is a peaceful, and welcoming place, with. Its thought-provoking sites, and memorials, delicious. Cuisine and, idyllic nature, it's no wonder this region is such a popular getaway, for nearby Parisian. After. Exploring, the heft timbered charm of Rouen we, reflect, on lily pads at Monet's garden peek. In on local, craftspeople. Set. Up an easel and on floor. Enter. Eric saachi's eccentric. Musical, mind remembered. Edict and another, invasion nine centuries earlier, and. Take. A pilgrims hike to, an enchanted, pattern. The. Frances many regions, Normandy, strategically. Located across, from England, and handy, to Paris from. Rawa we, side-trip to shiver, nee travel. To bond flew they, you and visit, the dramatic, d-day beaches before, finishing at mon san michele. The, history of Normandy is filled, with war Viking. Norseman who settled here in the ninth century gave, Normandy, its name the, seventh Duke of Normandy William, the Conqueror invaded England from these shores Joan. Of Arc who rallied the French against the English was burned at the stake in Normandy, and on. These beaches a world war two battle was fought that changed, the course of history, the, stirring sights associated, with each of these events turns many visitors into, history buffs. Nearly. Twelve hundred years ago the Vikings made, this town Roma their capital, William. The Conqueror called it home before moving to England during. The Middle Ages roll off with, forty thousand residents was Frances, second largest city only, Paris, was bigger, in. The. 12th century half, of today's France was ruled by England, caught. In the middle Rawal walked a political, tightrope between France and England for centuries and, because, rawa was an important, English base during the Hundred Years War this, is where Joan of Arc was burned. Today. Rawa mixes, dazzling, Gothic architecture and, contemporary. Bustle beautifully, it's. A busy port with a pedestrian-friendly old town and a grand Cathedral, standing as a reminder, of the town's historic, importance. The. Spire was made of cast iron in the late 1800s. About, the same time Eiffel was building his tower in Paris at nearly 500, feet it's, the tallest in, France. Roma's. Ornate, public clock has decorated the former city hall for 500. Years back, then just, having an hour hand offered, ample, precision, the. Lamb at the end of the hour hand is a reminder, that wool was the source of Roland's, wealth and the. Artistic highlight, lean, way back fills. The underside, of the arch with, the Good Shepherd and lots. Of sheep. That. Thriving, wool trade stoked Rama's medieval, building, boom. Because. The chalky limestone, quarried from the cliffs that the Seine River nearby was so expensive and it wasn't great for building quality I could actually mess it up with my thumbnail here if I wanted to and because the oak around here was so plentiful hef, timber buildings became, a Roman Forte, the. Oak beams provided. The structural, skeleton of the building the.
Gaps Were then filled in with a mix of clay straw, and pebbles, and plastered. Over. Wander. The back lanes and, peek into shops this, flower in pastel, hat shop is the last of its kind in Rome the, Hat maker is considered, a treasure by her devoted, clientele. Just. Around the corner, Monsieur oh gee welcomes, shoppers, to browse through his, studio, and see Rama's. China, known, as faience being, made the traditional way. First. The clay is molded, and carefully, trimmed by hand. After. Being fired dipped, in enamel and dried, it's lovingly hand-painted. A second. Firing gives it its characteristic glaze. In the. 1700s. Rolo had 18 factories, churning out the popular product today, the, og family carries on the faience tradition. On. The market square a cross marks the spot where Joan, of Arc was burned at, the stake in the 15th century as. The. Demoralized. French were reeling, under English occupation this, teenager, of supreme, faith after, hearing divine voices won, the confidence of the French people dressed. As a man she, was given an army and rallied, her countrymen, against. Their English, invaders. In. 1431. 19-year. Old Joan of Arc was taken by the English convicted, of heresy and burned right. Here as the, flames engulfed, her an English, soldier said oh my god we've killed a saint nearly. 500 years later Joan, of Arc was made a saint and he was proven correct. Midway. Between roma and paris about, an hour's drive away is javonni. Claude. Monet the father of the Impressionist movement, spent, his last 40, years here, finding, inspiration in, these, gardens. The. Colors of his cottage garden are like his brushstrokes, they seem untamed, and slap - but our part of a carefully composed mosaic. He. Diverted a stream made. A pond filled, it with water lilies and built a footbridge which eventually became, overgrown, with, wisteria. Museums. In Paris bloom. With Monet's garden paintings. Impressionism. Was a revolutionary. Movement in European, art the rage in the 1870s. Many. Artists, abandoned, realism, in favor of this innovative, style which captured, light glimmers. And reflections. Impressionist. Art evokes, the subtleties, of nature. The. Artists using, short brushstrokes, of different colors placed side by side suggests, shimmering. Light the. True subject is not, really the lilies but, the changing, reflections, on the surface of the pond as. He. Grew older Monet. Cropped the scene ever closer, until. There was no shoreline no, horizon no. Sense of what's up or down. For. Dinner I'm joining my friend and fellow tour guide Sabine. Lata to Rea back, in Rwanda for what you'd expect to spend in a modest American restaurant we're enjoying the full fun-loving. Ritual, of fine, dining in France. This. Is classic, Normandy cuisine and tonight, we're going to experience the four scenes, AHA, foresees, what, is gonna have the cream cream camembert. Okay, cider and, of Calvados, okay, and the cream you can shine it right in the sauce they. Do mix it in you have red wine ha ha ha, and cream, okay so Chris makes it really smooth, cream, is that without.
The De salts and, if sauce is something that is important, in the Normandy cuisine. In. A fine French meal the main plate is followed by a cheese course in this case cream gives way to camembert. Which is only one of many tasty. Normandy cheese's. On. Bail. So. All of this cheese really, is from this region from a few miles from here really it's from no money you know just about probably. At. The most 30 kilometers, from here I love this this, concept, of eating locally, you eat locally, you it's distributed. Locally and you just enjoy it locally. The. Region is also famous for its apples, which are savored as cider or as the liqueur Calvados. What is this. Apple. Souffle, with, catheters. The. Four C's of Normandy creme. Camembert. Cider, and, Calvados. Our. Next stop is just down the road. Unclip. The, bombs of World War two and feels, as picturesque. As it looks, gazing, at its Snug Harbor it's, easy to overlook the historic, importance, of this point this. Is where the Seine River meets the English Channel for, over a thousand, years sailors, have enjoyed, on fleurs ideal, location, while, busy conquering England William, received supplies shipped from on floor in Canadian, snow on floor as the place Samuel de Champlain sailed. From in 1608, discovering. The st. Lawrence waterway and establishing. Quebec City. The. Harbour once fortified, with a wall and two gates is now an easygoing marina, today's. On floor long, eclipsed by the gargantuan, port, of La Habra just, across the same happily. Uses its past as a bar stool and sits, on it. On. Flourish. Church of st. Catherine is worth a visit. It. Was built by a community, with plenty, of boat builders and no, Cathedral architects if, you flipped it it would float. When. The first nave was finished in the mid 1400s, it was immediately, apparent they, needed more space so. They built another. Many. Consider, on floor the birthplace, of Impressionism. Just, as Monet once did artists, still come here to catch the light playing on the Harbourfront and reflecting. On the water, it. Was in places like this that the battlecry, of the Impressionists, out of the studio and into the light was, born. Just. Down the street visitors. Don headsets, to explore the boyhood home of composer, Erik sati which, presents his music in a whimsical way. Wandering. From room to room you enjoy fragments, of satis music along with his life story. After. A fairly short adolescence. I turned into a moralist, adjustable, young man. It. Was then I began, to think and write musically. Surreal. Images complement, his music reflecting. How radical, the Parisian, art scene was in the 1920s.
And. For. A musical, finale you get some exercise. For. Lunch where Harbourfront, attic referee a fun. Specialty, both here in Normandy and in neighboring Brittany his crepes savory. Crepes are made with buckwheat and called collapse, while. Plain looking they come filled with what you'd expect in a pizza bowl in an omelet. Traditionally. Crepes, are washed down with hard, and tasty, cider you can get it sweet or dry. Our. Rooms are in a chambre, d'hote a French bed-and-breakfast. Settling, into a French home rather than a hotel saves, you money while getting you closer to the culture we're in the home of gregarious. Madame's Eggman's, it's just the kind of place I seek out and recommend, in my guidebooks she. And her husband, Antoine offer a welcoming, lounge and six rooms each, as, inviting, as the owners. Distances. In Normandy are short and as long as you stick to the auto route won't worth the tools you'll, make very good time our next stop is Bay you. It's. Saturday, morning and this normally, sleepy square has erupted into a busy, farmers market the long tradition those, who grow it selling, directly to those who eat it thrives, throughout France and the. Food in, French. They. Use claim to fame is the Bayeux Tapestry, which hung in this Cathedral it's, a nine hundred year old embroidery, which tells the story of arguably the most memorable event of the Middle Ages the pivotal, Battle of Hastings in, 1066 the. Tapestry, now hangs proudly in a museum just down the street. Headsets. Narrate the 230. Footlong cartoon, telling, the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings don't. Worry if you, lose your place you'll. Find super, titles in leather. England's. King Edward was about to die without an heir the, big question, who, would succeed him Harold his English brother-in-law, or William his French cousin King. Edward chose the Frenchman William but when the King died Harold grabbed the throne. William. Then known as William, the bastard thought, the throne was rightfully his so, he prepared, his army gathering, weapons and, coats of mail and sailed, from Normandy, across, the English Channel to the south coast of England. He, met Harold at the town of Hastings where they fought a fierce 14-hour. Battle. While. The English fought valiantly the, Normans had an advantage horses. With stirrups. Historians. Attribute their victory to these stirrups. Extra. Details of the battle show up below here. Dead, soldiers are being stripped of their valuable, armor. Harold. Was killed arrow, in the eye house. And his, Saxon, forces were, routed. The. End of the tapestries, lost but, the end of the story's well-known William. Now William, the Conqueror marched, into London and claimed, his throne now. He was both Duke of Normandy and King. Of England. Theyyou, with. A pleasant town centre and only six miles from the d-day beaches makes, a great home base for visiting the area's sights. Along. The seventy-five miles of Atlantic coast, nearby you'll, find countless memories of the largest military operation in, history. It. Was on these beautiful beaches at the crack of dawn June. 6 1944, that. The Allies finally gained a foothold in France and Nazi. Europe began, to crumble. During. The d-day invasion American. Troops and their allied partners courageously. Assaulted, two German occupied cliffs using, grappling, hooks and ladders. While. Ultimately victorious, they suffered horrendous losses. Smashed. German, bunkers and bomb craters, remain only, hinting. At the unimaginable. Carnage and chaos of, that momentous. Day. The. Small town of our Romansh was ground zero for the d-day invasion, almost. Overnight the Allies erected, an immense prefab, port enabling, them to begin their victorious push, to, Berlin. Imagine. The building of this incredible, harbour 17. Old ships steamed across the English Channel and were sunk bow to stern creating, a four-mile long protective. Breakwater, then, with massive, concrete platforms. And roads, floating, on pontoons, nearly a mile long the. Harbor was completed, within. Six days three hundred thousand Allied troops and all their equipment had established a beachhead here in France and less than a year later the, war was over. Today. 60, years later the, town with its beachcombers, holiday, trinkets, and families, at playing still, seems to celebrate, that Allied, victory. Peace. Came at a huge price the. Invasion cost, over four thousand allied lives, the.
American Cemetery at, Solara crowns, a bluff just above Omaha Beach and the eye of the d-day storm. Thousands. Of tombstones, glow in memory of Americans, who, gave their lives here, to help Free Europe. The. Bluff overlooks, the stretch of normandy beach called the, portal, of freedom. While. Tranquil, now for. Those of us who weren't there the, horror of that day is impossible. To imagine. From. The memorial, with a bronze statue symbolizing, the, spirit of america's youth a peaceful. Sea of crosses, invites those visiting, to wander, and ponder. The sacrifice, so many brave men made, in the cause of freedom. Immediately. After the war all the bodies were buried in temporary graves in the 1950s. When this cemetery was established the. Families, decided, if the bodies should remain, with their comrades or be brought home, officers. Are disproportionately. Represented their. Families figured they'd prefer to be buried with the men they commanded, and with whom they fought and died. Nearby, another. Military cemetery, is the resting place of 21,000. German soldiers. The, centerpiece, symbolizes, German mothers and fathers who lost their, children. The. Site glum, with, two graves for simple marker and dark crosses, that huddle together in groups of five is a somber, reminder that, many young Germans, were victims of Hitler as well. The. Best World War two museum in France is in Kong, the, first big city freed by the Allies, officially. Named the memorial, for peace it puts, the Battle of Normandy in a broader context. You. Start with a downward, spiral stroll, tracing, almost, psychoanalyzing. The path Europe followed from the end of World War 1 to, the rise of fascism and, into. World war 2. You'll. Get a thorough look at how World War 2 was fought. From. Individual, weapons. -. Floating airports. To, the 2-ton v1, the unmanned predecessor, of today's smart. Bombs, to. The d-day, landings. The. Cold War wing gives an overview of the bipolar, world that followed World War two it, gives insights, into the battle waged by the USSR. In the USA, for the hearts and minds of their people until, the collapse of communism in 1989. The. Memorial then takes you beyond, war the. Gallery of Nobel Peace Prizes celebrates. The irrepressible. Human spirit, it. Honors the courageous and too often inconspicuous, work, of people like Albert, Schweitzer, mother. Teresa. Martin. Luther King and. Many. Lesser-known champions. Of Justice who understand, that true peace is more. Than just an absence, of war. The, contemplative. Finale is a walk through the US Armed Forces memorial. Garden. Plaques.
Honor The sacrifice, young American, soldiers made for Europe the. Sight. Of children enjoying this memorial, as a playground, captures. The spirit of the quote edged in the pavement from, the heart of our land flows, the blood of our youth given. To you in, the name of freedom. Our. Next stop an hour's drive away is Monson. Michelle. For. Over a thousand, years the silhouette, of this island Abbey has sent pilgrims, weary spirits, soaring today. It does the same for tourists, won't. Saw Michelle which through the ages has been among the top pilgrimage. Sites in all Christendom, floats. Like a mirage, on the horizon, the. Vast Bay of monseigneur, shell which turns into a mudflat at, low tide has long played a key, role here, since. The 6th century hermit, monks have lived here in search of solitude. The. Word hermit comes from an ancient Greek word for desert closest. Thing to a desert in this part of Europe was to see imagine. The desert this Bay provided, as that first monk climbed, that rock trying. To get closer to God. The. Rock capped, by an abbey was even more isolated by, its mythic, tides, pilgrims. Crossed the mudflat quickly, and carefully, knowing, that the sea swept, in at the, speed of a galloping horse. In. The late 1800s. A road was built connecting the island to the mainland, and letting, pilgrims come and go without hip boots. The. Town of moans on Michelle with only 30 residents entertains, over 2 million visitors a year its, main street lined, with shops and hotels leading, up to the abbey is grotesquely. Commercial. It's, some consolation remember, that even back in the Middle Ages this, was a retail, garment, with stalls selling souvenir, medallions, candles, and fast food like omelets. An. Island specialty, is quick tasty, and extremely, fluffy omelets. They. Were popular, for eat and run pilgrims, who needed to beat the tide and they remain a hit with visitors today. Enjoy. The show as cooks make sure that traditional, beat goes on. You. Can skirt those Main Street crowds and enjoy Munson Michels find 15th, century fortifications. By following the ramparts, up to the Abbey these, walls were built to defend against, a new weapon the cannon rather, than tall they, were low to make a smaller target. While. The English took all the rest of Normandy they never conquered this well fortified Island because. Of its stubborn defense against the English through all those years moans, a Michelle became a symbol of French national, identity, as. You climbed the stairs to the Abbey imagine, the pilgrims and monks who for centuries have, climbed these same stone steps. Moans. Ha Michelle's been a holy place since --there 708, when according to legend the Archangel, Michael appeared to a local bishop in a vision and convinced, him to build here. This. Was an immense building project, evolving over many centuries it. Was a marvel, a medieval skyscraper. Built upon a rock crowned, by a gilded, statue of, Saint, Michael the. Base stretches, from Normandy, to Brittany. The. River marks the historic, border between the two lands.
Normandy. And Brittany have long vied for moans I'm Michelle, in fact the river used to pass on the other side making the a be part of Brittany today, moans, hi Michelle is just. Barely but thoroughly part of Normandy. The. Centerpiece, of this extraordinary, Abbey, is its church. While. It's mostly 11th, century Romanesque, with round arches and small windows the apse behind, the altar was built later it's gothic pointed arches and bigger windows, fill. The sanctuary, with, light. Sitting. Atop all this heavy construction like, a delicate, flower is the, abbeys cloister, in. This peaceful zone which connected various rooms monks. Would grow vegetables, and medicinal herbs. They've, meditate, and read, the Bible and for. Thoughtful travelers, today this. Abbey's still inspires. So. Much of france's rich heritage survives, and here in Normandy perhaps more than any place in the country it inspires. Us all thanks. For joining us and vive, la France I'm, Rick Steves until next time keep, on travelin, Oh bah. Friendly. Locals crepes, camembert. Big. Abbey's, thanks, for joining us as the flames engulfed, her body an English soldier looked at up her inner said it well via here's. The church here's the. Steeple open up the door and see all the people.