Normandy Omaha Beach

As the gorgeous Miroir D’eau faded into the distance in our rearview mirror, Normandy was soon ahead of us.

I’ve totally skipped the part where we stopped in Nantes overnight in the above sentence, but to be honest except for eating way too much steak, finding a cool hippo cocktail stirrer and buying five boxes of Milka chocolate brownies (no I’m not joking) Nantes was pretty uneventful, and so onto Normandy we rode.

Normandy was the last stop on our French motorbike trip (minus the ferry port we went to afterwards to get home) and after riding through the picture-perfect villages with buildings synonymous with those you’d find in story books, we soon found ourselves in front of Omaha beach.

The exhaustion of a week spent riding from North to South and back North again had caught up with us and as S was the only one able to drive (I can’t ride a motorbike… Yet!), he had the additional mental strain that comes with it, and so today was the day we were taking it slow. After parking up the bike, wriggling off a few layers and then realising it was hella-cold and putting said layers back on, we walked towards the seafront. S wandered along the concrete edge whilst I sat down on a patch of pathway where sand had blown over the barriers and settled, and stared out to sea.

Looking out and knowing that this, now sombre and peaceful, beach was once a part of history’s largest seaborne invasion was sobering. Knowing that where I sat was once the location of the invasions most intense battles was heartbreaking, and despite the beach laying virtually empty on the day we were there, you could almost hear the echoes of horror radiating through people’s minds as they thought back to the event that took place just 73 years ago.

As the wind blew through my hair and carried the sand into my crappy sandwich, I couldn’t help but reflect on how far we have come and appreciate all that I am able to do, when so many didn’t get to live through the days gone by.

Shortly after,  S returned and enquired as to why there were loads of vintage vehicles and planes passing us by. I didn’t know so naturally we hopped back on the bike and followed a convoy of vehicles to investigate.

It turns out that there was an event happening just a short distance away.

Every year, since 2007, for the anniversary of the allied landings of the 6th June 1944, D-day Festival Normandy has been offering an array of events where the tourist offices of the D-Day Landing Beaches showcase their areas at their best – and we were there on the weekend before the main event, but when the celebrations were taking place.

We didn’t attend the festivities, but we did take a stroll around the grounds to get a closer look at the vehicles. Partly because vintage vehicles are so visually appealling, but also because my crappy sand-wich (literally – *eyeroll*) had left me feeling rather peckish and I spied an ice-cream stand on the way in.

After purchasing a Lion Ice-cream at well above market value, we took a stroll around to get a closer look at the vehicles.

Everybody was dressed in full uniform. Veterans and soldiers alike conversed around the tables. Vintage packaging lay inside camp tents, and I just stood there taking it all in as an event which caused so much death, became a place where people united to celebrate life.

I hate war, and there will never be enough words to thank those who gave their lives so that we could live ours – but we can honour the sacrifice they made by ensuring that we live every second to the fullest <3

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