The little Peugeot. struggled up the hills as we made our way to Utah Beach. At one point the sparrows were flying faster than we were moving. Our top speed going down hill was 35 mph. But the little engine took us about 55 miles round trip, in about 2 hours. It looked so tiny compared to the “big boys” though we were never the envy of the other riders.
We were lucky to see a herd of about 40 horses running through the fields, enjoying the cool weather and early morning. We also saw 900 parachutists jump with the old-style chutes using a static line. They came, wave after wave, in groups of 5 to 20 jumpers.
For miles around the jump site, people lined the streets and it was difficult to get around, even with the small scooter. In Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, depicted in the television series Band of Brothers, was the first village to be liberated during the D-Day disembarkment at Utah Beach. There, the re-enactors erected a bivouac. There were a variety of army vehicles and people clad in the old-style uniforms. We even saw a parade of locals dressed in 40s garb and pushing baby buggies and riding old bikes. Lots of polka-dotted dresses. All the stores and cafés were full. We managed to buy a drink in the grocery store, and then sit on the commons to watch the people.
Unlike 70 years ago, there is aquaculture on the beaches. We could see the large tables, but could not tell what was being farmed.
There are a few monuments and statues and a museum. As we walked around the beach, there was a flyover and Dennis managed to capture one of the planes. Later during the day, he also captured the C47 in full battle paint for D-Day. It wore these colors so it wouldn’t be attacked by the allies.
We returned to Sainte-Mère-Église to identify a few buildings that were mentioned in a book we bought that captures eye-witness statements about that night. Though written in French, I hope to translate it for Dennis and help him better understand what his father experienced.
Again today we saw a biking club–all wearing the same red, blue, white shirts. A police motorcycle preceded the 1000 or more riders. This was not a race, but folks out for a pleasure ride.
We arrived back in La Haye-du-Puits in the late afternoon and everything in town is quite…all the stores and restaurants, except for a kebab/pizzeria are closed. Luckily I overheard heard someone mention it in the hotel, and we grabbed fair food in Sainte-Mère-Église,