Caen, France Day 11

I’m in Caen, but I’m supposed to be in Deauville. I’ve got mad skills when it comes to the Eurail train schedule. Serious knucklehead, that’s me! All it takes to screw up your day is not getting off the train at the point where you are supposed to catch ANOTHER train to get to the other place. I didn’t really consult my guide to see if there was a “change” meaning train change. Well, guess what folks… there was!
Boulangerie in Caen, France.
I realize mere seconds after the train is pulling out that I was supposed to have gotten off. Starting to panic I think, do I try to backtrack once I get to Caen to make my hotel reservation? Or just eat it and stay in Caen. I got off the train and saw a cafe right outside the station that had a wifi sign in its window. I went and got a Croque Monsieur et cafe au lait, and checked out my irail schedule (awesome app!) If I were to go back to Lisieux to get to Deauville, I’d be in Deauville at 8pm. So that made my decision easy, as it was only noon.
Really old post and beam buildings in Caen, France.
The cafe was hilarious, by the way. They were playing this really bad French 80’s music. Hopefully it was 80’s music, because if it was current French music, then they are sadly behind the times by say, 20 years! I asked a man in the cafe for directions to the city center. He was so kind as to give them to me, as well as his phone number! Seriously dude? He was old enough to be my father! Ah, the French, gotta love them!
Street scene in Caen, France.
Hotel de Ville in Caen, France.
This is Caen’s Hotel de Ville.
Church in Caen, France.
I decided to make the most of being in Caen. Juno Beach (D-Day Beaches) is only 25 km away and it was a “must see” on my list of things to do in France. This trip is a pilgrimage of sorts for me. To see the great works of art, great museums and to pay my respects at the places where terrible things happened that changed the world forever. I’ve developed an interest in stories about war in the past couple of years. I read Atonement by Ian McEwan and that started me off. Then I read Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. Both brilliant novels, one about World War 1, and one about World War 2.
Photo of Adolph Hitler in Canadian War Memorial Museum in Caen, France.
Photo of Canadian uniform during World War Two in Canadian War Memorial Museum in Caen, France.
Photo of world leaders during World War Two in Canadian War Memorial Museum in Caen, France.
The museum was just fabulous. I was greeted at the door by a young man from Ottawa. He started me off on my tour by taking me into the small wraparound theatre and explaining the origins of the museum and how the tour works. The museum was the idea of some Canadian war vets who wanted to have a museum to honour the men and women who gave their lives, but also include the other allied countries that served as well. When he told me they hire young Canadians to do the tours who were about the same age as the men who fought in the war, I almost started bawling. Just being there was emotional because the museum sits upon the grounds where the fighting actually happened.
24 hour ration pack for soldiers during World War Two in Juno Beach War Memorial Museum.
24 hour ration pack.
Temporary grave markers during World War Two in Juno Beach War Memorial Museum.

The opening film is meant to make you feel like you were there when the action was actually happening. There’s a screen in front of you and on each side, so you’re basically surrounded by the sights and sounds of what it must have been like. I was the only one in there and I really could have had a good cry, but I fought it and continued on with the tour.

World War Two  War Memorial Museum in Juno Beach, France.
Statue out front. I like it.
Woman standing on Juno Beach, France.
The beach. Beautiful but a bit haunting.
 Juno Beach, France.
War memorial Juno Beach, France.
Juno Beach, France.
Juno Beach, France.
Canadian flag at Juno Beach, France.
So because I got to Juno Beach late, I missed the last bus to Caen, so I decided to take a cab. 53 euro’s later, but it was 100% worth it. I may have screwed up royally earlier by missing my train connection, but in the end I think it was a happy accident that I wound up in Caen instead.
Saint-Jean church in Caen, France.
Saint-Jean Church in Caen. So lovely.
My hotel in Caen, France called St. Etienne.
Me at my last minute hotel in Caen.

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5 Responses to Caen, France Day 11

  1. Michele April 16, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    What a day you had! Too bad about missing your train but it seems like that worked out for the best, which is a wonderful thing. Looks like you had fabulous weather, too.

    I’ve always wanted to see the D-Day beaches, so this post is very inspiring to me, Andrea. I had no idea Canadians built a museum there. I look forward to visiting it one day.

  2. Anonymous April 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    In 1965 we, Karin and Manfred go nearly the same route through France. We would try to forget the terrible past and take connections to young french boys and girls It was been beautyful and also terrible for us. 20 years after the 2. world war they dont like us, we the young people, the kids in 1945 are not welcome. We feel it every day at every place in France, and we have to accept it. The result was, we was never been again in France!

  3. Andrea April 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    @Michele, the museum is really a treasure! It is not funded by the Canadian gov’t either, war vets raised the coin to do it. Very inspiring on all counts Weather was just amazing!

    @Manfred, that is so sad to me. It is not your fault as Germans for the atrocities that happened. It’s too bad we as humans are so judgemental. I think the tide has turned though, Germans are traveling more than ever, and hopefully as accepted as everyone else.

  4. Emily B. April 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Andrea, I am so glad you got to the beaches – I think it was meant to be. I have a few more Canadian war novels on my list for you when you get back – Timothy Findley’s The Wars comes to mind. And gorgeous photos, too.

  5. Andrea April 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Emily, it was amazing. So moving especially now that I have a little more knowledge about it! I read The Wars actually, a few years ago and really enjoyed it! Any others you have though, bring them on!

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