Since we started late on Monday, we never got to visit the American Cemetery. We did that first thing this morning, and then headed down to Mont St. Michel. The American Cemetery was only about fifteen minutes from the castle, and emotionally overwhelming. So many young men (and a few women) are buried there… row after row, that you can’t help but think that it was such a waste. I know that there deaths had meaning, but the world would be a better place without war. The cemetery is a large field overlooking Omaha Beach. The visitor’s center looks small from the outside, but that is deceiving. The main displays are underground and it is absolutely amazing. You could spend all day in the visitor’s center and never get to the cemetery. If you ever go, don’t forget to take the time to visitor’s center. We were there in the morning and there weren’t many people. I think that is better than in the late afternoon, which is the normal time for all of the tourist show up. There is something wrong with walking through a cemetery will a bunch of tourist walking around. We mostly had the cemetery to ourselves, although some other tourist arrived by the time we were leaving.
After the cemetery, we headed down towards Mont-St-Michel. It is a couple hour drive from Normandy, and just outside of Mont-St-Michel is a German war cemetery. Unlike the other German cemeteries, this one consists of crypts instead of a traditional graveyard. There isn’t much information on the soldiers in the cemetery. There is there name and date of birth and death. We saw several crypts with female names and no other information. We don’t know what their stories were, but somehow these women ended up getting put into a German war cemetery. It was overcast and beginning to rain so we didn’t stay long.
A few minutes from the cemetery is Mont-St-Michel. It is a famous monastery and is clearly a tourist destination. It used to be a island, but the silt has built up to create large sand bars around the monastery. They are working on removing the road to the monastery to allow it to become an island again. It was poring down rain when we arrived, and we scrambled from the parking lot into the monastery. The monastery is huge and it takes a fair amount of time to tour it. We got caught up in mobs of schoolchildren as we toured the monastery. I can’t really imagine why they ever thought it was a good idea to build a monastery on an island. God must have spoken directly to them to get them to move that much lumber and rock to an island. It is really an architectural amazement and it must have been something to have lived there. I think it would have been fun to be the Bishop, but with my luck, I would have been one of the workers hauling rocks… and that would have not been fun.
After the tour, we stopped for a late lunch. It is actually hard to find open restaurants for late lunches or early dinners. They stay open, but only for drinks in the afternoon. It is hard to find a place to actually eat. We did find a place and had a snack, followed up with a chocolate waffle (yummy). We then headed back to the castle for our last night in Normandy.