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Silent City Meets Living City

World War 2 trips 2013
Normandy ~ May 31


During my Normandy trip in June 2012 I was convinced I'd be joining the commemorations again in 2013. I booked my camping at Le Grand Vey already in January, where I will be staying from May 31 until June 9.

I also started looking for some events which I really wanted to witness: the Filthy 13 ceremony in Brévands and the parachute jumps at La Fière bridge. Unfortunately I'll end up missing these...
At the end of January my good friend Reg Jans asked me if I'd be interested to take an American veteran of the 101st Airborne from Normandy to Bastogne on June 7. I would have to shorten my Normandy trip a little bit, but I'm sure it will be worth it a lot so I didn't hesitate too long to confirm. I also had an idea whom I'll have to take on the trip, it is James 'Pee Wee' Martin and his travel companion Doug Barber.

Through Reg I contacted Doug to get to know each other and to make some arrangements. Since I'm going to need more space in my car, I had to inquire if I could rent a little house at the camping but I had no luck there.

A couple of days later I saw a question on Facebook from my American friend Mike Lloyd who was looking for someone to co-rent a house in Normandy, so I immediately volunteered and he found a gîte which was still available in Saint-Marcouf. After making some mutual arrangements with Mike and contacting the responsible for the gîte, it's finally time for the departure on May 31...

Friday May 31

When everything is packed and loaded, I leave home at noon. I'm driving to Compiègne where I visit the Royallieu  deportation camp. This was one of the biggest deportation camps of Nazi Germany in France. Over 45.000 people were deported to concentration and extermination camps from here between 1941 and August 1944. There used to be a Jewish camp inside the camp too, this was an extermination camp since many Jewish prisoners were starved to death here.

This is a very interesting visit, but you should take a lot of time for it, especially when you use the audio guide. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to do it all.

On my planning was a visit to the location where the Armistice was signed at the end of World War 1 and where the surrender of France was signed during World war II, but the museum already closed at 18h00 so I wasn't able to visit this yet.

I now drive straight to my B&B in Rouen. My gps sends me through Paris, something I better hadn't done because there are lots of traffic jams in and around the French capital. I drove by the Stade de France where I saw many people dressed in pink walking about but I had no clue what this is all about.

I end the day with a lovely dinner at Buffalo Grill and in my B&B room I watch the French Cup Final between Bordeaux and Evian who play in... pink, right.