...blessent mon cœur d’une langueur monotone.

Courseulles-sur-Mer Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 16 › view all entries

I awoke with dawn, as was the trend for this trip, and virtually immediately hopped onto the bike. I tip headed down the road and into the village of Martragny after which the château was named. The views were phenomenal... having played games and seen movies set in this place and season left me totally unprepared for the staggering beauty of this place. The devastation that was brought upon it seems all the more terrible as a result.

On my route, I passed through Creully, where they have named a city square after Canadian tanker Lt .William McCormick, who cleared the town of Germans on D-Day, before moving on. His troop of tanks from the 1st Hussars were the only allied unit to reach their final objective on D-Day.

My next stop was Courseulles-sur-Mer, one of the cities that the Canadian troops assaulted on D-Day. It is also the home of the Juno Beach Centre, a museum intended for multiple roles... educating Canadians about the our role on D-Day and in World War II, and educating the French and people of other nations about Canada. It wasn't bad, but as someone who knows Canada and World War II more than the average person, there was nothing there that was new or enthralling to me.

Rather than the museum,it was the beaches themselves that interested me. A few dozen feet in front of the Juno beach Center, a pair of German fortifications sit. Large cement structures,more or less in the same condition they would have been 60 years earlier, with no evidence whatsoever to suggest that either was damaged by the pre-invasion bombardment.

Erosion of the ground beneath the structures is about to pull one beneath the sand, but the show little battle damage. Evidence of the strong German presence that made Juno the second most deadly beach to land on that day.

I then moved East into Bernières-sur-Mer, where the Maison des Queen's Own Rifles of Canada is located. This modest 2 story beach side home is believed to be the first building liberated by seaborne landing troops on D-Day. It is believed that more than 100 Canadians died in the fight to cross the sea wall and liberate this home.

It was at this point my trip suffered a disastrous twist. While trying to power the bike up a steep hill towards the Canadian Cemetery, my foot slipped from the pedal and smashed into the ground, and the chain slipped from the gear.

It took a few minutes, but I finally managed to get the chain back on. The bike itself wasn't damaged, but I was. I could already feel the bruising starting up and knew that the ride home was not going to be pleasant. It wasn't either. What had taken me a leisure 1 hour in the morning took 2 1/2 in the afternoon, and I limped into the château  much later than I would have expected. I went and took a nap while feeling very angry at myself and bitter about my leg. When I woke, it was nearly time for dinner, so I went to the little restaurant expecting standard camping fare. Oh was I wrong.

While none of the food was anything approaching fancy, the sheer question of quality reach up and smacked all other considerations aside. This was the freshest of the fresh, best of the best 'produits du terroir'... local produce picked by hand from the farmers own cart, and then loving prepared in the tradition of the peasant's kitchen. Coupled with a glass of the local cider and followed up by a snifter of Calvados... I wasn't nearly as grumpy as I had been when I hit the sack that night.

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photo by: silirat