In May 2010, I flew to Paris, France for a week. I was going to the west coast to the areas known as Brittany and Normandy. The purpose mostly was to see the war monuments and memorials in that area, but also because I had never been in that part of France. I also figured it was an area condensed enough for a week long trip.

I left Paris and drove west to the coast and the town of Honfleur. This is an old port town from the 17th-century full of half-timber buildings and cobbled streets. While it is a popular destination and therefore a little crowded, you only need stroll away from the harbor to avoid the tourists. From Honfleur, I continued west along the coast to see ‘The Beaches’.

We are familiar with names like ‘Utah Beach’, ‘Omaha Beach’, ‘Gold Beach’, ‘Juno Beach’ and 'Sword Beach' and aware of what happened here. However, keep in mind these were only names given to a particular point along the French coastline to identify for the Allied troops. In reality, they don’t technically exist on the map. I was surprised to not easily be able to find them. Yes there are monuments, memorials, museums, markers, tributes, etc. but it is not what you would think. Remember, people lived here then and they live here now. This is home to many people and it is part of the history of this area. Today, you can only imagine what happened here and respect what it took to make that happen.

Mont St. Michel is an abbey that was started in 1017 and seems to float 400 feet in the air out in the sea. It is the third most visited site in France, after…take a guess… the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. There is a causeway that connects it to the mainland. Because of the fall and rise of the tides, it can look like it is floating. It is very impressive from a distance when you are approaching it. There is only one path to walk up and the same way back down, a long narrow pathway with a lot of shops and a big crowd of people.

St. Malo (the pirates’ city) is a walled town placed out in the sea accessible by a causeway (they seem to like this sort of thing around here). Back in the day it had a more scoundrel like reputation, hence the pirate moniker, which helped build the wealth of the city. The ramparts surrounding the town are over a mile around and massive.

Near St Malo, the town of Dinan is considered the best preserved medieval town in Brittany. It has everything you would hope to find in a medieval town but packed into a nice small town. Here you will find a walled town center with ramparts, towers, a castle, and the Tour de l’Horloge (clock tower) which has an aerial view over the town. You can walk around most of the ramparts and also get great views of the town.

The city of Rennes (pronounced Wren) was a surprise. For a large city, it has quite a bit of history. As I drove into the city center, I was looking for a parking garage as usual but found a parking space instead. I was so excited I forgot to track where I was. After exploring the city for awhile I realized I was not sure where my car was. I had a couple options. I could start showing people my photos and hope they could point me back in the general direction, or I could try and back track where I had walked for the last couple hours. Then there is the last option, hope I recognized something myself. Interestingly enough, I found a store that I ‘think’ I had seen and headed in that direction. Eventually it led to a street I recognized, then another building, then through the archway, then finally my car. It pays to be alert and to pay attention about your surroundings (yes, I know I should have done that in the first place when I parked). Oh, as far as the history in Rennes, I’m sure it was there somewhere.

On my last day I decided I would go into Paris, yet again. My choices were to either go to the hotel (near the airport) and let them shuttle me to the airport where I could take a train into Paris, or park at the airport and take the same train into Paris, or just drive into Paris directly. I looked at my map and drove head on to the area near the Eiffel Tower. Thanks to GPS it got me close and I found a parking garage (of which I kept track of the location like I always do). I then bought a day pass on the Metro and I was on my way. I spent the day ‘seeing’ Paris. I saw the Jardin Du Trocadéro, Eiffel Tower, Parc Du Champ De Mars, Notre Dame, Louvre, Jardin Des Tuileries, Place De La Concorde, Avenue Des Champs Elysées, and the Arc De Triomphe. It was actually a nice way to wrap up a trip to France.

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Honfleur, France - The 17th-century harbor.


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Honfleur, France - Many colorful buildings.


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Honfleur, France - Pont de Normandie, the world's largest cable stay bridge.


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'Juno Beach', France - This stretch was mostly Canadian and British troops.


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Arromanches-Les-Bains, France - One of the 2 designated areas used as a harbor for offloading cargo.


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'Omaha Beach', France - This stretch was mostly American troops.


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'Omaha Beach', France - 'The Braves' monument on the beach.


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Colleville-sur-Mer, France - Le cimetière et memorial américans de Normandie (American Cemetery and Memorial of Normandy) doesn’t really show the full impact of what happened.


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'Utah Beach', France - The Utah Beach museum.


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'Utah Beach', France - Me at Borne 00, the start of Freedom's Way (Road of Liberty) which goes to Bastogne, Belgium.


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Le Mont St.-Michel, France - Me at Mont St. Michel, built from 1017 to 1521.


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Le Mont St.-Michel, France - Everyone else at Mont St. Michel, only the Eiffel Tower and Louvre have more visitors.


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St. Malo, France - The town stretches out into the water, accessible only by a causeway.


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St. Malo, France - The ramparts surround the town and are over a mile around.


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Dinan, France - One of the best preserved medieval towns in Brittany.


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Dinan, France - Some of the buildings in the Old Town.


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Combourg, France - Château de Combourg (Cat's Tower) dominates over Lac Tranquille (Lake Tranquil).


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Rennes, France - Pronouced Wren, has many 15th -century buildings.


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Vitré, France - The Château de Vitré is part of this medieval walled city.


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Paris, France - The famous Pyramide entrance of the Musée du Louvre.


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Paris, France - The famous Notre-Dame on the Ile de la Cité in the Seine.


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Paris, France - The famous Arc de Triomphe on Place Charles-de-Gaulle (L'Étoile).


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Paris, France - Again? OK, OK. If I must, I must. Just to keep you happy.