Visiting Normandy was an interesting experience for me because of the friendly attitude of the people towards Canadians. Our hotel, the Churchill Hotel, flew a small Canadian flag in window. The proprietor, who was a former professional soccer player, wanted to practise his English and was delighted when I told him that my brother coached soccer in Canada.
Last year, when I was studying for my final exam at the Sorbonne, my mum and sister visited Bayeux so that I could have some quiet in the St. Jacques apartment. Mum bought a little shirt for her great-grand-daughter Lily. Janet and I visited the same shop this year and bought tea towels for our friends at home. The lady, who does silkscreen work, was so pleased that we had heard of her store in Canada.
A woman in another shop told us about the new city museum that had opened only 4 days before. Le Musée Baron Gérard is housed in the former Bishop's Palace and chronicles the history of the area from Neolithic times. The sections on lace-making and porcelain were fascinating. The employees were so proud of this showcase that they kept encouraging us to open drawers and to see more.
We hired a taxi to take us to Juno Beach where the Canadian regiments landed on D-Day. It was so cold by the Channel. The museum tries to give an insight as to what it was like for those young Canadian men coming ashore in the face of enemy fire. Janet's dad was in Europe during the war but he never spoke of it. We visited the Canadian cemetery the land for which was given to Canada by the people of France. After having seen images of the destruction and loss of life, we feel grateful for having lived far away from war.
I have always had a sense of connection to my French-Canadian heritage and somehow I feel that perhaps a part of my family tree has its roots in Normandy.
|Canadian flag is in the middle.|
|The poppies for remembrance|
|An Inukshuk for the First Nations soldiers who were killed|