My trip to France
If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a TON of photos from my end-of-summer trip to France. #sorrynotsorry After way too much back and forth over where to go, my mom locked on Normandy and my dad and I were in (or in my case, done with debating -- I love you mom :) ). Prior to leaving, I had a few reservations, was it going to be insanely depressing and would the weight of WWII be magnified by current times? Was it going to be boring? Would every menu just be oysters and muscles (two things I don't eat)? Save the first concern, none of the others ever arose.
We began the trip with a few hours in Giverny, walking through Monet's garden and house. It was the perfect introduction and required only minimal effort which our sleep-deprived selves greatly appreciated. From there, we went to the first of our three stops: Port-en-Bessin. We also stayed in Dinard and Honfluer. Port-en-Bessin and Honfluer were my favorites. Why? 1) I liked these hotels the best, 2) Port-en-Bessin is where we did the beach tour and saw the American Cemetery and that day was moving and phenomenal, and 3) We were in Honfluer the longest so it came to feel a bit more like home.
To see the beaches were the tide of WWII turned. To think of what people went through for freedom and justice. To see the craters left from the battles. To see so many graves and know that they are just a fraction of the death toll. To think about the horrors Hitler was inflicting on my people and countless others. It was humbling, emotional, and sometimes left us without words. Neither of my grandfathers were in France during the war; one flew in the air force but was sent to Italy and the other had a desk job in the Navy and never left the US. I never knew either of my grandfathers so I didn't grow up hearing stories about the war and given what little my parents know about their fathers' respective service, it seems neither talked about it very much. Thus, I had an odd sense of being removed while also getting a peak into the lives that they might have lived.
But it wasn't all war :) Normandy is famous for its butter and OMG was it outstanding. The bread and butter was my favorite part of the meal nearly every night, it also made the pastries so much better and I had some of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had (I'm so American I know, but when it comes to sweets I like me some good ole fashioned American baked goods #shame).
Normandy is stunning. Our time in the car was basically one scenic view after another and filled with thousands of cows- gotta make the butter! As you approach Mont Saint-Michel, it actually feels like you are venturing into a fairy tale. Once you get to the top of the abbey, you look out on miles of wetlands (at some times of the year it is water). Incredible, unreal, surreal, I don't even know how to describe it.
We capped off the trip with an afternoon in Paris and a night at Disneyland Paris! We walked ALL over Paris. Seriously. My step counter was over 18,000. All of us had been to Paris before and we didn't have much time so we didn't hit all of the sites (or really many) but that was A-ok with us. We went into Saint-Chappelle (new for my dad and I), took photos of Notre Dame (to go in was a crazy-long wait and we've done it before), and then did a bit of shopping, ate very well (Frenchie's To-Go is a MUST) and just walked around. It may sound silly, but I was so glad to have a chill and successful day in Paris. The last (and only) time I was in Paris, I had the flu, it was raining, and the museums were on strike. To see the city on a beautiful day and feel well and have everything open helped me understand why people love Paris (to be fair, I would have hated anywhere under the conditions in which I first went to Paris). Then came one of the biggest surprises.
I thought we were going to Montmarte for dinner. It seemed strange to me that we were getting in the car but, "What do I know?" I thought. I noticed my mom type in "Disneyland" but assumed she was just curious how far it was, as we had once mentioned maybe going and if it was close or not. Then I drifted off to sleep. I woke up briefly and saw my mom taking a photo of a highway sign. It never occurred to me that the sign said "Disneyland." Instead, she told me it was because it said "Meaux" which happens to be the last name of a musician my dad used to manage (his family is French). Back to sleep I went. What felt like an hour later but could only have been about 10 minutes, I woke up for real and my mom started trying to take pictures of me. Only my sister would know that this is a normal occurrence. My mom takes pictures of us sleeping. It's weird. I was all "Mom-stop." She had this weird grin on and I was like "ugh this is so annoying why?" Turns out she had spotted the castle and thought I could see it and wanted to capture my reaction. Nope. But a few minutes later we got off at Disneyland and I basically lost my mind!
I spent the rest of the night in disbelief. I couldn't stop smiling, took pictures of everything, and must have thanked my parents an obnoxious number oftimes. I LOVE Disney World, Disney movies, Minnie, basically anything associated with the mouse. I have always wanted to go to Euro Disney but honestly never thought it would happen. I realize this sounds ridiculous. I'm an adult, I am lucky enough to go to wonderful places, hell I had just spent 8 days in wonderful places and there I was losing my mind at the site of Sleeping Beauty Castle (fyi in Orlando it's Cinderella Castle and yes, they are different). We had about 4 hours until the park closed which gave us enough time to hit a few rides, have dinner (by far the worst meal of our trip but I mean obvi) and then see the fireworks/light show. I don't know why but I found it hysterical that the characters on the rides spoke French, same with the songs during the fireworks. The night ended with a quick stop in the souvenir shop (for a keychain and magnets for my sister and me). I couldn't have imagined a more magical end to a fabulous trip, or summer for that matter.
Have you been to Normandy? Any other Disney fans?