Our sightseeing days in Normandy were Saturday and Sunday which made it possible to have Eric Labourdette available to be our guide. On our visit in 1999 , we had no guide. All we saw was St-Mere-Eglise , the Airborne Museum, Utah, and Omaha beaches which we walked through in the pouring rain. Even in the idyllic pastoral site, there is so much history, so many stories , I would strongly recommend a guide. Eric is not a professional guide. He is a retired medic/ paratrooper from the French Army and now uses his training to work in the emergency room of a local hospital. It worked out perfectly as he was off those two days and he enjoys guiding visitors especially military tourists. He was contacted by my internet Dutch friend Thulai van Maanen and he agreed to lead us the two days of our visit.
Now you might remember, there were 11 of us including 5 active children from ages 7-15. Eric was very patient with the children and low key with the adults. He would explain the site, make suggestions, suggest a time to exit, and then answer questions. He followed our lead unlike some bossy, distant guides we passed on the route.
Our decision before arrival was to make a plan. I deferred to Thulia and asked her recommendation. She also leads groups to explore Normandy, but was unavailable the time we were there. She was one of the many people I feel God lead me to in planning for this trip, the right person, at the right time. . . Eric was one of those people, too! We also decided that since time was short, we would only go to the American Sector. My plan he is to give you the itinerary in case there are those of you who may which the information for a visit you may be planning. In following posts, I will tell you a little of what we learned.
Day 1 Utah Beach Sector
La Fiere Bridge
Dead Man’s Corner
One place on the list but we didn’t visit was:
Brecourt Manor (filmed in Band of Brothers)
To let you know what troopers we all were in this process, both days we were out and about doing the tourist death march for about 10 hours! Eric, the kids, the grown children, and David and me . It was obvious that they were interested in most of what we saw which made me happy because I want them to “remember” far into the future.
Tomorrow, we will visit La Fiere Bridge on the edge of St-Mere-Eglise.
The holy ground of Utah Beach.