Day 43 – July 23, 2014 – Wednesday – Vernon, France

This morning we traveled about 10 minutes to visit Le Verge de Giverny, where Monet lived and painted many of his works.

The next several photos of Monet’s gardens and his house. For the most part I will let the photos speak for themselves.

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9 My Photographic Monet” interpolation of # 8 J

#10

#11 Monet’s Home

#12

#13 – Needless to say, the flowers were beautiful…

After returning to town, we stopped by the market. I just love markets! I purchased a half kilo of nugget (cranberry and almond). It is delicious.

An old building covered with ivy.

Some photos from an after dinner walk along the Seine.

The setting sunlight was nice.

COLLEGIATE CHURCH NOTRE-DAME

The building of the church Notre-Dame of Vernon started in the 11th century but was completed in the 17th century only. The style is mostly gothic. The elegant narrow nave is lit by a beautiful set of contemporary stained-glass windows and a few ancient ones.

The church was dedicated in 1072 "to the Holy Mother of God", this is why it is named Notre-Dame (Our Lady).

In 1658 the pavement was raised about two feet to keep it out of reach of the swelling of the river Seine. Two engravings on the outer wall of the church commemorate these floods.

A view from the back.

The west façade of the church boasts a unique rose window in ‘flaming’ gothic style. Attending the mass on a Sunday at 11.00 am will enable you to listen to the excellent pipe organ of 1610.

THE ARCHIVES TOWER

The tower is a remain of the ancient castle of Vernon. It dates back to Philippe Augustus (12th century). In the 19th century, it was used to keep the city archives.

THE HOUSE OF LONG AGO

This beautiful half-timbered mansion now houses the Tourist Information Office. It is one of the oldest houses in Vernon (15th century). Its first owners built it on the main street next to the church, a very good location that led it to become an inn.

Vernon still counts 233 wooden houses scattered along old narrow streets in the vicinity of the church and the museum.

My only regret about our visit to Vernon was the lack of information provided to us by our program directors about this wonderful town. Everything I have shown above, I had to acquire from the internet. The Program Directors almost exclusively focused on Monet. I feel it was a great loss not to convey some of the history of this neat village.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 43 – July 23, 2014 – Wednesday – Vernon, France

This morning we traveled about 10 minutes to visit Le Verge de Giverny, where Monet lived and painted many of his works.

The next several photos of Monet’s gardens and his house. For the most part I will let the photos speak for themselves.

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9 My Photographic Monet” interpolation of # 8 J

#10

#11 Monet’s Home

#12

#13 – Needless to say, the flowers were beautiful…

After returning to town, we stopped by the market. I just love markets! I purchased a half kilo of nugget (cranberry and almond). It is delicious.

An old building covered with ivy.

Some photos from an after dinner walk along the Seine.

The setting sunlight was nice.

COLLEGIATE CHURCH NOTRE-DAME

The building of the church Notre-Dame of Vernon started in the 11th century but was completed in the 17th century only. The style is mostly gothic. The elegant narrow nave is lit by a beautiful set of contemporary stained-glass windows and a few ancient ones.

The church was dedicated in 1072 "to the Holy Mother of God", this is why it is named Notre-Dame (Our Lady).

In 1658 the pavement was raised about two feet to keep it out of reach of the swelling of the river Seine. Two engravings on the outer wall of the church commemorate these floods.

A view from the back.

The west façade of the church boasts a unique rose window in ‘flaming’ gothic style. Attending the mass on a Sunday at 11.00 am will enable you to listen to the excellent pipe organ of 1610.

THE ARCHIVES TOWER

The tower is a remain of the ancient castle of Vernon. It dates back to Philippe Augustus (12th century). In the 19th century, it was used to keep the city archives.

THE HOUSE OF LONG AGO

This beautiful half-timbered mansion now houses the Tourist Information Office. It is one of the oldest houses in Vernon (15th century). Its first owners built it on the main street next to the church, a very good location that led it to become an inn.

Vernon still counts 233 wooden houses scattered along old narrow streets in the vicinity of the church and the museum.

My only regret about our visit to Vernon was the lack of information provided to us by our program directors about this wonderful town. Everything I have shown above, I had to acquire from the internet. The Program Directors almost exclusively focused on Monet. I feel it was a great loss not to convey some of the history of this neat village.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 42 – July 22, 2014 – Tuesday – Andelys – Vernon, France

We sailed from Rouen at 8:00 AM this morning for a brief trip up the Seine to Les Andelys, where we arrived just after lunch. This morning the program directors had many activities planned. At 9:00 there was a presentation about Chateau Galliard, a fortification originally constructed by Richard the Lionhearted and subsequently seized and changed hands many times over the centuries. It currently is only ruins, but the view is beautiful.

At 10:00 there was a cooking demonstration on how to make the pastry bead for apple tarts (which we had for dinner). Chef Kopecky’s pastry has 144 layers and will melt in your mouth.

11:00 AM brought a class (with tastings) on French cheeses, sausages, butter, cream and foie gras.

After lunch we walked from the ship through the village to the chateau ruins. I needed the exercise!

Scenic view along the Seine.

Here is where we were docked. A lot of difference from being in a large city.

A view of the castle from the streets of Andelys.

A view of the castle ruins from the next hill top.

A view of the town, the river and our ship (the one in the distance) from the castle. It is easy to see why King Richard would want a fortress in this location. You have a view of the river for miles in both directions.

We still had a couple of hours before “all aboard”. We stopped at this small café and I had a couple of “new for me” beers. One a Belgium and the other French.

Another view of our home away from home.

We arrived in Vernon in the early evening. After dinner we went for a stroll. Vernon, like so many small French towns and villages is simply charming.

I don’t know the age of this building, but I am sure it was constructed before the establishment of the United States.

This beautiful sunset photo was taken near where Monet did many of his paintings.

The small pier is busy tonight! We were sandwiched between two other ships.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 41 – Monday July 21, 2014 – Rouen, France

We spent a second day in Rouen. I am not sure of the details, but according to our original itinerary, we should have been in the village of Caudebec yesterday and Rouen today only. Two days in Rouen is too much. Overall I have been disappointed in the Seine Cruise. Perhaps this is because I am comparing it to the Grand European River cruise we just finished. This cruise doesn’t seem to be as well organized and less information is provided to the passengers. The crew and the program directors are all very nice and provide for you needs, but the attitude except for a few is just different. On the Adagio everyone really seemed to fully enjoy their job and did everything possible to make your trip as good as possible. On the Bitzt, everyone seems to just be doing their job, without the enthusiasm we saw on the Adagio. Another issue we have faced is passenger smoking. On the Adagio the designated smoking area was upper deck near the stern which was also the crew smoking area. On the Bitz, the crew area is on the stern but the passengers are allowed to smoke anywhere on the upper deck. As a result it is impossible for non-smokers to get away from second-hand smoke.

Ah well, guess I am just in a venting mood today….

Ships lined up on the docking piers at Rouen. Our boat the MS Bizet is the first one next to the pier.

One view of the many buildings purposely built leaning. Since you were taxed on the “footprint” of the building, by building in an inverted pyramid style you could get more square footage for less tax dollars

This one illustrates the principle even better.

One of the 5 magnificently carved doors at St.-Maclou Cathedral.

Details of the carvings.

The aitre of St.-Maclou is a courtyard surrounded by a series of two-level half-timbered buildings, the upper floors of which were used as a charnel house (ossuary). They were built from 1526-33. The lower level was originally open giving the area a cloister-like effect. There is a frieze running between the floors that is carved with memento mori: skull and crossbones, spades, sickles, hour glasses, etc. On the vertical shafts are worn carvings that presumably illustrate the Dance of Death. The courtyard served as a temporary cemetery where plague victims’ bodies were buried with lime in pits until the bones were in condition to be moved to the ossuary, the area between the area in the attic. The lower level today is closed in and the buildings are used as part of the School of Fine Arts and ArchMitecture.

A better view of the carvings.

The town Clock. Like many during this period, especially in wealthy cities, the clock only shows the hour. This was an indication of their wealth, time was not deemed important to the wealthy.

A rare find. A free toilet! It was not easy to spot. Located underground in the corner of an unremarkable square.

The main spire on Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen. The cast iron spire was completed in 1876 in the Eifel style, it rises 490 feet into the air. It was built to replace the Renaissance-style lead spire which was destroyed by fire in 1822.

We overnight in Rouen again tonight and sail at 8:00 AM tomorrow and expect to reach our next port is Les Andelys around 1:00 PM

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 40 – July 20, 2014 – Sunday – Rouen, France

We sailed from Honfleur at 3:55 AM and arrived in Rouen about 9:30. After breakfast a few of us walked as a group to the Sunday morning Market about 15 minutes away. I love markets and this one was no exception. The locals were out purchasing fresh meat and produce as well as picking up prepared food for lunch or dinner. Despite the fact that it was raining, business was good. The pastries an cheeses made my mouth water.

These radishes just made you want eat one like an apple.

I love the market’s colors.

Fresh vegetables were plentiful.

This stall did nothing but roast chickens. They sold them in three different sizes.

It was wet but fun.

I have never seen so many cheeses. This was one of a dozen stalls with nothing but cheese.

The rain slowed and we decided to explore town before returning to the ship for lunch.

These beautiful buildings are near the site of the burning of Joan of Arc.

This is the actual site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by the British. It is just a small garden with a small sign, although there is a larger concrete and steel cross which is just outside the garden.

The streets are quite on a Sunday morning.

A fine example of stone and timber construction. What the Germans would call Franconian.

Cathedral spires may be seen almost everywhere.

Napoleon III King of France in the 1830’s.

These pizza delivery bikes are just waiting for an order…

A curved street and buildings.

Inside Rouen’s Notre Dame Cathedral

Another beautiful Cathedral. We have seen so many in Europe.

This was about 10:30 PM at sunset as we left to go see the light show on the face of Rouen’s Notre Dame Cathedral.

Another night street scene.

We had no idea what to expect as the crowd began to gather for the show which begins at 11:00 PM. This is a photo of the cathedral before the show started and the street lights were turned off. Below are a number of the hundreds of facades given to the church over a 30 minute period. I will just number the photos and provide no description. Let your imagination take over.

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4

Number 5

Number 6

Number 7

Number 8

Number 9

Number 10

Number 11

Number 12

We learned this show is done each night during the summer. It was really quite spectacular.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 39 -Saturday July 19, 2014 – D-Day Tour

Today was a long, tiring day with a lot of bus riding. It was one of those days which you could not say was enjoyable but was fulfilling. We left at 8:00 AM for our D-Day tour. Our stops included: Longues sur Mer, Arromanches, The American Cemetery, Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc. You can read about and view movies about D-Day and the assault on Normandy by the Allies, but until you see the obstacles which they had to overcome and the number of lives sacrificed, you can never really appreciate what measures it took to ensure not just the freedom of France and Europe but indeed the entire World.

A pastoral scene on the way to Longues sur Mer.

The Longues-sur-Mer battery was a World War II artillery battery constructed by the Wehrmacht near the French village of Longues-sur-Mer in Normandy. It formed a part of Germany’s Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications. The battery was completed by April 1944. Although constructed and manned initially by the Kriegsmarine, the battery was later transferred to the German army. The site consisted of four 152-mm navy guns, each protected by a large concrete casemate, a command post, shelters for personnel and ammunition, and several defensive machine-gun emplacements.

The battery at Longues was situated between the landing beaches Omaha and Gold. On the night before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944, the battery was subjected to a barrage comprising approximately 1,500 tons of bombs, although much of this landed on a nearby village. The bombing was followed from 0537hrs on the morning of the landings by bombardment from the French cruiser Georges Leygues as well as the U.S. battleship Arkansas. The battery itself opened fire at 0605hrs and fired a total of 170 shots throughout the day, forcing the headquarters ship HMS Bulolo to retreat to safer water. Three of the four guns were eventually disabled by British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut, though a single gun continued to operate intermittently until 1900hrs that evening. The crew of the battery (184 men, half of them over 40 years old) surrendered to the 231st Infantry Brigade the following day. The heaviest damage was caused by the explosion of the ammunition for an AA gun, mounted by the British on the roof of casemate No.4, which killed several British soldiers.

A church along our travels. (taken from the bus)

From the hilltop near Arromanches you can see Gold Beach (a part of the British sector for the Normandy invasion) and some of the remnants of the manmade Mulberry Harbor.

Additional view of the Mulberry Harbor, a portable temporary harbor developed by the British in World War II to facilitate rapid offloading of cargo onto the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy. Two prefabricated or artificial military harbors were taken in sections across the English Channel from Britain with the invading army and assembled off the coast of Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion of France in 1944.

The D-Day souvenir shop.

This is a single section of the harbor, many sections were much larger. By 9 June, just 3 days after D-Day, two harbors codenamed Mulberry "A" and "B" were constructed at Omaha Beach and Arromanches, respectively. However, a large storm on June 19 destroyed the American harbor at Omaha, leaving only the British harbor still intact but damaged, which included damage to the ‘Swiss Roll’ which had been deployed as the most western floating roadway had to be taken out of service. The surviving Mulberry "B" came to be known as Port Winston at Arromanches. While the harbor at Omaha was destroyed sooner than expected, Port Winston saw heavy use for 8 months—despite being designed to last only 3 months. In the 10 months after D-Day, it was used to land over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of supplies providing much needed reinforcements in France. In response to this longer than planned use the Phoenix breakwater was reinforced with the addition of extra specially strengthened caisson.

An up close section of one of the pontoons.

A few of the strengthened caisson used for the floating roadway.

The main street in Arromanches

We made our way to the American Cemetery. Where a brief private ceremony was planned for our group. I was a simple playing of the Anthem and a moment of silence. Despite its simplicity it was quite moving due to the setting.

View of the chapel past the reflecting pool. On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II.[1] After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.

It’s difficult to imagine the personal sacrifice made by these men and their families. The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. It covers 172 acres , and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942. Only some of the soldiers who died overseas are buried in the overseas American military cemeteries. When it came time for a permanent burial, the next of kin eligible to make decisions were asked if they wanted their loved ones repatriated for permanent burial in the U.S., or interred at the closest overseas cemetery.

Each cabin was given a flower to place at a grave of their choice. We selected this Quarter Master from Georgia who perished late in the war on May 24, 1945. There are no birth dates on the markers but the average age was 22-23 years old.

Another view of the many makers.

A view of Omaha Beach from the cemetery.

Omaha Beach monument.

Marker inscription.

Omaha Beach today.

Pointe du Hoc is a promontory with a 100 ft. cliff overlooking the English Channel on the coast of Normandy in northern France. During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete casements and gun pits. On D-Day (6 June 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group assaulted and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs

The assault force was carried in ten landing craft with another two carrying supplies and four DUKW amphibious trucks carrying the 100 f.t (30 m) ladders – requisitioned from the London Fire Brigade. One landing craft carrying troops sank and all but one of its occupants drowned, another was swamped. One supply craft sank and the other put the stores overboard to stay afloat. German fire sank one of the DUKWs. Once within a mile of the shore, German mortars and machine guns fired on the craft. These initial setbacks resulted in a 40-minute delay in landing at the base of the cliffs, but British landing craft carrying the Rangers finally reached the base of the cliffs at 7:10am with approximately half the force it started out with. The landing craft were fitted with rocket launchers to fire grapnels and ropes up the cliffs. As the Rangers scaled the cliffs the Allied destroyers USS Satterlee and HMS Talybont provided them with fire support and ensured that the German defenders above could not fire down on the assaulting troops. The cliffs proved to be higher than the ladders could reach.

The original plans had also called for an additional, larger Ranger force of eight companies (Companies A and B of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the entire 5th Ranger Battalion) to follow the first attack, if successful. Flares from the cliff tops were to signal this second wave to join the attack, but because of the delayed landing, the signal came too late, and the other Rangers landed on Omaha instead of Pointe du Hoc. The force at the top of the cliffs also found that their radios were ineffective. Upon reaching the fortifications, most of the Rangers learned for the first time that the main objective of the assault, the artillery battery, had been removed. The Rangers regrouped at the top of the cliffs, and a small patrol went off in search of the guns. Two different patrols found five of the six guns nearby (the sixth was being fixed elsewhere) and destroyed their firing mechanisms with thermite grenades.

At the end of the two-day action, the initial Ranger landing force of 225+ was reduced to about 90 fighting men.

Inside one of the German Bunkers.

Au revoir …

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 38 – Friday – July 18, 2014 – Honfleur

Friday morning was fairly leisurely. After breakfast we took a short, about 1 hour walk around the old town Honfleur and learned a little of its history. We then had the remainder of the day to ourselves.

Ken our program director has dual citizenship, he was born in the US but has lived in France for over 30 years.

Salt was a very valuable commodity in the middle and late middle ages. This plaque is on a huge salt warehouse which was built from the dismantled city wall. It was capable of holding 10 million Kg of salt. That would take care of a lot of French fries….

The salt warehouse is now used as a convention and conference center and is a beautiful building.

After our guided tour, Janet, Carl, Kay and I elected to continue our walk and sought out direction to the highest point near the town. It was only about a ten to fifteen minute walk but was quite steep. The views were worth the effort.

An old iron fence still surrounding a several centuries old French farmhouse.

This was the entrance to the city prison.

Although the fishing industry in Honfleur is in severe decline, the local market stills provides a fresh supply to the restaurants and citizens. It was located directly across from our dock.

In the afternoon we took a longer walk to the beach area which was heavily used but not the pristine white sand beaches you might expect. Along the way I got this distance photo of the Pont de Normandie Bridge. It is a cable-stayed road bridge that spans the river Seine linking Le Havre to Honfleur in Normandy. Its total length is 7,032 ft. –2,808 ft. between the two piers. It is also the last bridge to cross the Seine before it empties into the ocean. It was completed in 1995 and at the time was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

On our walk, we discovered a huge public park with many quiet spots to relax.

Along the way were various busts of famous person either from Honfleur or who made their home there. Sorry, but I don’t remember who this fellow was.

This beautiful flower display was planted along the sidewalk. It is just one of many.

This evening after dinner we were treated to a talk by Mr. Andre Heintz. Mr. Heintz is a 91 year old gentleman who was a member of the famous French Resistance group. This underground group thwarted the occupying Nazi’s in many ways and supplied intelligence to the Allied forces and aided many downed airmen. We felt very fortunate to be able to hear one of the few remaining French Resistance members.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment