We woke up in Bayeux, Normandy to rain, but had a wonderful breakfast ranging from tropical fruits and yogurt to croissants, breads, cereal, and bacon...and of course, the wonderful coffee!
The first stop of the day was Pointe du Hoc, which was the enemy command post for the entire invasion front. Utah Beach is 8 miles away from this location and difficult to describe. Again, in such a scenic and beautiful coastal location, it was difficult to comprehend the violence that once occurred there. That being said, the craters which filled the expansive area made us realize how much damage artillery and bombs can inflict on a countryside and its inhabitants. We were able to enter bunkers which remained and learned that some Rangers were killed by American Soldiers coming from Omaha Beach because some Rangers were eventually using German guns. A local yellow bush was growing within many craters and along old barbed wire. Such glorious coastal beauty permeated with craters of destruction....overwhelming to imagine the fear and sound of just 68 years ago.
|Crater left from bombing|
|Natural coastline with added defense, still in place|
|Bunker--one of many remaining|
|Some of the tour participants|
|Statue in honor of paratrooper|
|SMWC Voice Faculty enjoying the day|
A stop in Saint Lo for a money exchange left us running late for lunch. We had to quickly figure out options with little to choose from so some took longer at a pizza place in a mall, others went to a deli in a supermarket, and others chose a "fast food" option where the ordering was quite an experience! However, the workers were so patient and understanding...even of the fact that many of us had to change into choir dresses in the "toilette" at their location and wandered around in black choir dresses and sensible shoes.
We raced to Mont-Saint-Michele in order to sing at 3:00 p.m. in the Church of St. Pierre. We all estimated how far we walked (some said 4 miles, others said 5 or 6 miles), but as one commented, "We'll likely never again walk to sing in Mont-Saint-Michele with saltwater grass-eating sheep on one side of us, and salty wind blowing around us on the other side!". The wind was blowing so hard that hair and dresses were hard to contain!
|Waiting to enter Mont-Saint-Michele with 5 minutes until 3:00 performance|
We then toured the Abbey, climbing and descending approx 600 steps in the process! The views and rooms were spectacular, to say the least. The concert was well-received, but less formal in that people could come and go as they pleased. However, when the choir finished singing the commissioned work, "La Providence" the audience burst into applause (applause is not typical in a church/chapel in Europe). The tour director said that in all his years, no choir has ever sung in French. He was most impressed.
|Students reflecting in Abbey|
|Mont-Saint-Michele and famed saltwater grass-eating sheep!|
|Singers waiting after climbing first 170 steps to Abbey|
Tomorrow, we head to Etables-Sur-Mer, the birthplace of Saint Mother T. Guerin. We will sing in the chapel there and likely be in awe that we have now come full circle.