Today we had a really early start to a full day. We rolled out of the hotel at 6:15am to catch our train to Normandy! We grabbed a quick breakfast at the train station and then we were on our way. After a 2.5hr ride, we arrived at a rainy Bayeaux. We made our first stop at the Bayeux Museum to see the Bayeux tapestry. We each got an audio guide that walked us through the story told on this 70m tapestry. We learned about the story of the conquest of England by the Normans through 58 numbered scenes that end with the Battle of Hastings. After walking along the tapestry, we got to explore the rest of the museum and learn about the methods and tools used to create this tapestry. It was incredible to see all the skills they used to make this masterpiece by hand. The museum ended with a quick movie that brought the story of the tapestry to life as a wrap up.
We all got a quick lunch break then we were on a bus to the coast. We were dropped off in front of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial where we were given a few hours to explore the area at our own pace. In the museum, there were movies telling the story of D-day and of all the young men who died that day. There were personal testimonies from soldiers and their families about what it was like to fight in the war or to lose a loved one. This museum did an incredible job honoring those who risked everything on June 6, 1944.
After visiting the museum, I walked to the memorial and cemetery. It’s sobering to look out over the cemetery and to see rows and rows of headstones of those buried there. I also took some time to walk along the Wall of the Missing. This wall contains the list of all the soldiers who were never found. Some of the names have rosettes next to them, marking that the remains of that soldier have now been identified. Those names are rare. That area was a little more secluded from the rest of the cemetery but I think it is just as important to read those names as well as those on the headstones. All these soldiers deserve to remembered.
After walking through the cemetery, we found a path down to the beaches. On the way, we met up with the rest of the group on top of one of the bunkers that’s been preserved to discuss our experiences going through the memorial. After talking for a bit, we only had a little bit of time before we had to catch the bus into town. So, we went down to the beach to get closer to the waves and at least stick our feet in the water. After getting our fill of the salt water and sand, we were on our way back into town for our last group dinner.
Just like our first group dinner in Metz, we had crepes. The perfect bookends for our summer. During our last big meal together, we talked about the summer and some of favorite visits and briefings. We went through all of the cities we visited together and laughed about some of our crazy travel experiences. It was great to have one more meal together with such an amazing group of people. But, it wasn’t goodbye quite yet. We still had our train back to Paris and one more free day before going our separate ways for the rest of the summer. I’m confident that we’ll all make the most out of our last day in Paris and keep in touch when we’re back on campus in August. This summer has been everything I hoped it would be and more and I wish anyone planning on doing this program the best. It’ll be one of the best summers of your life!