Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Normandy (Normandie)

  • Rouen

    Rouen is known for the location in where Joan of Arc (Jeanne D’Arc) was burned alive as a heretic and a witch. Tied to a stake, she was burned on May 30, 1431. Her ashes were gathered and tossed into the Seine.

    A modern church “Place du Viuex-Marche” with stained glass windows from St-Vincent sits in the centre of the monumental complex in the square. Beside it is a bronze cross that marks the position of St. Joan’s stake.
    (Place du Viuex-Marche Image: Courtesy of

    The Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen was immortalized by Claude Monet in his paintings.

    Also a popular tourist attraction is the Rue du Gros-Horloge or the Street of the Great Clock, now a shopping mall that runs between the Cathedral and the Vieux-Marche and the cathedral. On this street is an arch that with an ornate gilt Renaissance astronomical clock, which dates back to the 16th century.

  • Honfleur

    Honfleur is known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, with it prettily painted and slate-covered houses and the yachts and fishing boats docked alongside. This port was originally founded by Vikings. The port itself is bordered on three sides, by large stones houses on the Southside, and high and narrow wooden houses to the North.

  • Trouville-sur-Mer

    Trouville by the Sea is a popular fisherman village in Normandy in the region of Calvados, well known for fine beaches, beautiful villas and a Casino.

  • Bayeux

    Bayeux is the the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, one of the oldest surviving complete tapestries in the world. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry, and was the site where William forced Harold Godwinson to take the oath, the breaking of which lead to the Norman conquest of England.

    The Bayuex Tapestry is a 50 cm by 70 m (20 inches by 230 feet) long embroidered cloth – not an actual tapestry – which explains the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England as well as the events of the invasion itself – the Battle of Hastings of October 1066.

    The French legend maintains that the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, and her ladies-in-waiting. (The Bayeux Tapestry Image: Courtesy of

  • D-Day Beaches

    • Courseulles-sur-Mer, Codename: Juno Beach

      Juno Beach stretched from Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer on the east to Courseulles-sur-Mer on the west. It was one of the five main landing sites of the Allied invasion of the coast of Normandy on D-Day during World War II.

      At 0730 hours 6th June 1944, the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment in support of the 7 Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 3 Canadian Infrantry Division, assaulted and overpowered enemy defences between Courseulles-sur-Mer and Bernieres-sur-Mer.
    • Arromanches-les-Bains, Codename: Gold Beach

      Gold Beach is the code name for the main landing point of the used by British troops in the Allied invasion of the Normandy landings. Arromanches was selected as one of the sites for two Mulberry Harbours built on the Normandy coast, the other one built further West at Omaha Beach. Sections of the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches still remain today with huge concrete blocks sitting on the sand, and more can be seen further out at sea.
      (Arromanches-les-Bains Image: Courtesy of
    • Colleville-sur-Mer, Codename: Omaha Beach

      Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the main landing points of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on June 6 1944, during World War II.

      The beach was located on the northern coast of France, facing the English Channel, and was 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer on the right bank of the Douve river estuary.

      The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is located at the top of the bluff of the Omaha Beach, one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion during World War II. The cemetery covers 70 hectares (172 acres) and contains 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. The graves face westward, towards the United States, and include some graves of those shot down over France as early as 1942 (before the 1944 invasion).

    • Pointe du Hoc

      Pointe du Hoc is a cliff top location west of Omaha Beach, standing on 100 feet (30 m) tall cliffs overlooking the sea. It was a German stronghold and the point of attack by the United States Army Ranger Assault Group during invasion of World War II.

  • Mont-Saint-Michel

    Le Mont-Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island located approximately one km off France’s north coast, at the mouth of the of the Couesnon River near Avranches.

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mont-Saint-Michel was connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which was covered at high tide and revealed at low tide.

    Over the centuries, the coastal flats have been reclaimed to create pasture, hence the distance between the shore and the south coast of Mont-Saint-Michel has decreatsed. The River has been canalised, reducing the flow of water and thereby encouraging a silting-up of the bay. In 1897, the land bridge was fortified into a true causeway, which prevented the tide from scouring the silt around the mount.

    In 2006, France decided to build a hydraulic dam that will help remove the accumulated silt and make Mont-St-Michel and island again. The project is expected to be completed by 2012 and introduce a more environmental friendly way for tourists to visit the rock, while preserving it for future generations.
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