DAY 5, MAY 22
(CHRIS) We set the alarm for 8 a.m., but the air was so damp that we were all covered with very cold condensation in the soaked tent and we woke up about 7 a.m. (nice run-on sentence!) Anyway, the Lisieux campground had awesome showers. The total amount of water was above even the Foley shower. A veritable tropical deluge. We were content so we did not leave without a 1 Franc tip (for a 50 franc total) upon exit.
We arrived in the town center at 8 a.m. and the cathedral opened at 8:30, so Sam and I checked out the park/garden while Matt and Jon found food at a market. The cathedral was great. It was no Chartres, but it was impressive. Hardly any visitors except workmen. While Jon and Matt finished the cathedral stroll, Sam and I got food. Then we went to the Basilica built to honor St. Therese. It was awesome. Though the architecture was not medieval (1930ish it was built), it was a very huge and pretty church. Sam pain $1 to see a film, though it was in French. We saw the grave of Theresa's parents and a small museum.
Then, after eating some strawberries and bagetes (French long bread), we went to the Carmel chapel. It was small but not bad. Theresa's incorrupt body was there. I was very moved and impressed (as I was with Catherine and Louise), but Matt became disillusioned with the incorruptibles. You see, some of them have wax masks on them so it's not 100% real. Oh well. (We also saw the relic room with her hair, habit, etc.)
We then scooted out of town and through some nice countryside (with rolling fields and neat little churches--Catholic, of course.) After driving around Caen a bit, (not because we wanted to, but because we were lost), we headed for the Normandy beaches. At Arromanches, we saw a cute tourist town and an expansive cliffed beach. There were huge hallow concrete structures washed up (it was low tide) and we played on them a bit. We were not sure what they were, but theorized that they were part of the WW2 Allied invasion amphibious bridge thing. We played on some tanks and anti-aircraft guns and climbed down into German bomb shelters. The view was awesome; the feeling was proud (although Omaha-U.S.-Beach was yet to come.)
As we approached Omaha, we kept saying, "Boy, we kicked some international butt in World War Two." Then we saw our graveyard; we took quite a few hits ourselves. The rows of white crosses and the nice grass and monuments overlooking the cliffs were great. We swelled with pride as the Stars and Stripes flapped in the wind. Few other Americans were there today. There were 9,386 graves. Fourteen thousand were buried in the U.S. There was a monument to the 1,557 who were never accounted for.. All these dead from this brief French campaign of 51 years ago. We saw a few more monuments and underground shelters nearby and set out.
Next stop: Mont St. Michel. Again, nice roads with nice scenery. We were distracted for awhile by a religious discussion (three on one, of course--"Ha, Ha, I like these odds!") until the first view of the island fortress/monastery tore us away. It was incredible. It is connected to land by a thin land bridge, but it is really its own rock island with the monk's basilica magnificently huge on top. What space is left around the monastery is a small pedestrian town with winding paths and confusing stairways.
The basilica closed before we arrived (7 p.m.), but we used two or three hours to explore the rest for free. Today tides were low, but around the time of full moon. even the land bridge floods, trapping all inside. Today. we could walk on the gushy beaches of this Gulf de St. Malo.
As it got dark, we headed south. We drove through Rennes, where we became fed up with French cities' constant bombardment of our senses by a poster seen everywhere. It's of a girl named Lou in lingerie. All the poster says is "pin-up Lou" So to vent our frustrations now, we have a game. The first to see her says "Lou" and punches the car ceiling. So far, Jon has the most LOU's--don't tell Sherri! (Sam has 0.)
At Nantes, we stopped at a huge super-store. We started to walk in but a man reprimanded us in French. Since it was 9:30, we thought he was telling us to leave--that they were closing, so we started to leave. Then he pointed to the other end; we had been going in the wrong way. We bought cold pizza, apples, oranges, cheese, wine, bagetes, and Coke. We drove out to the country a bit and parked on a hill next to the highway. We ate our feast on the hood and roof of our Renault. We left the vino uncorked because we decided to drive 'til late. The meal was awesome and all rejoiced.Since Matt had bought nice Euro-T.P. (with flowers), Sam and Jon did the old squatola in the tall grass. We kept driving in shifts, getting lost in each city looking for LOU's and making poor time, it seemed. Finally, near Bordeaux, we stopped at a truck stop. After calling mom and Pop, I joined Matt and Sam on the lawn while Jon slept in the car.