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Bike trip through Brittany and Normandy, May 2012.

Day 4 - Le Debarquement. Quineville to Ste-Mere Eglise, a distance of approximately 18 kilometers.

Today’s ride was cut short by a combination of laziness and bad weather. My wife and I opted to sleep in and take the van from St-Vaast to Quineville, the first stop of the day. At Quineville, we visited an interesting museum that depicted life in occupied France during World War II. After visiting the museum, we saddled up and road to Ste-Mere Eglise, the site of the airborne landings by the 82d and 101st Airborne.

Photo by cycliste

The above photo depicts a famous incident involving paratrooper John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82d Airborne, whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church. He could only observe the fighting going on below and hung there limply for several hours pretending to be dead, before he was taken prisoner. This scene would later be made famous in the movie, The Longest Day, starring John Wayne as the commander of the 505th.

En route to Ste-Mere Eglise, we ran into some heavy weather along the coast and it began to really pour. Fortunately, things improved once we turned inland. At Ste-Mere Eglise, we stopped to eat and dry off.

Photo by cycliste

Then it was on to the Airborne Museum where we saw lots of military equipment, including one of the original WACO gliders used by the airborne troops in the D Day landings. Then it was on to the church and some of the rest of the town.

Since we had all been soaked from the rain and our feet were cold and wet, we all opted to take the van to Utah Beach., the site of the U.S. Army 7th Corps landings.

After Utah Beach, we were driven to our next hotel, a wonderful chateau on the outskirts of Bayeux for showers, a much needed change of clothes, and in my case, lots of Calvados.

Photo by cycliste

written by cycliste

7 comments

  1. rewd

    rewd

    Well... Calvados is just what you need after a rainy day outside!

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  2. rewd

    rewd

    And I suppose those young men of the airborne divisions had to be courageous to climb aboard WACO gliders... almost as lethal as german bullets!

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  3. realrampage

    realrampage

    Did you visit the american cemetery at Omaha beach? it's dramatically beautiful and a emotional place.

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  4. cycliste

    cycliste

    @realrampage Yes, we actually went to both the German and American cemeteries. I agree, it's a very emotional place. I have a colleague who just retired at the age of 86, and who served in WWII. When he described visiting the cemetery at Omaha Beach, it brought tears to his eyes. I have read a lot about the D Day landings, but it becomes more real when you see things first hand.

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  5. cycliste

    cycliste

    @rewd The Calvados was exactly what I needed, and it was really good. Unfortunately, there is not much of a selection of Calvados here. I really miss France, good wine, liquor, really really good bread, food, I could go on. I agree about the WACO gliders. Of course being former Air Force we used to say that you had to be crazy to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

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  6. realrampage

    realrampage

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  7. gibri

    gibri

    so wonderful places, rich of story, a bit sad, but of courage!

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