This morning I headed back to the Normandy coast to resume the trip west I started yesterday. I basically picked up where I left off yesterday and made it as far as Juno Beach tonight. I'm actually staying right next to the Port of Caen about 20 km east of Juno Beach (that's the east end of the WWII D-Day beaches at Normandy) and I just made a quick trip west to locate Canada's Juno Beach Centre before calling it a day.
The thing that surprises the most about my trip along the Normandy coast is how quickly and how much the scenery changes in just a short distance. At one minute I'm driving along open farm land where the English Channel is not visible because it's just over a gradual rise in the land. The next minute I'm in an old town were two way traffic passes on streets created long before the automobile was invented which sometimes are barely wide enough to accommodate one car let alone two. Or, I descend a tree lined valley and pop out along a beach surrounded by high white cliffs or find I a city! Very interesting to experience.
I tried to program a route into my GPS device that hugs the coast as much as possible, but sometimes it wants to take me inland to the much better roads. I only let it head inland when I needed a break from intense driving on the narrow roads or when I thought it was time that a made a bit of distance (your don't cover much ground going 30 to 50 kph and constantly turning corners). When I decided to override my GPS and find my own way for a bit it was always interesting to see what it would suggest to get me back on course. The dual with my GPS led to of plenty surprises and I'm sure the trip would have been no where near as interesting without it. It's kind of like playing a computer game with user assistance enabled and no matter what you do you'll always find you way out of a bind. It sure is a nice safety net to have, but it's not the sort thing you want to do if you have a tight schedule to meet, because sometimes it may take a little while to get back on course.
Another thing that surprises me about the Normandy Coast is how populated it is. There are a few big cities here, like Le Havre which is a major port. I kind of expected the Normandy Beaches to be kind of out in the open by themselves, but they are far from that. The area along the D-Day beaches is major vacation spot with lots of development within the vicinity of the beach. By the way, D-Day beaches, unlike those up the coast towards Dieppe, have decent sand.
Enough said, here are some scenes of today.
This was not far from where I resumed my trip straight north of Rouen. I couldn't believe how far the guys in the foreground were casting their lines. It must have been a least a couple hundreds meters if not more.
The boats here are just some of about a dozen or so that raced to the open waters all at once. It's almost like they were starting a race or perhaps they were waiting for confirmation that the fog that was lingering in the morning was gone for the day.
Some of the changing scenery I encountered today.
You know you are in tight quarters when there are mirrors to help you negotiate the turns.
These large flowers were all over.
Le Havre. Note the large fuel storage tanks in the background.
The Normandy bridge which crosses the Seine river south of Le Havre.
One of the surprises today was that when I crossed the Le Havre bridge I made a detour to try and take a better photograph of the bridge. After that I let my GPS get me back on course. It took me through a wooded area on a few narrows roads then I popped out in front of this old town. It was kind of like going through a time machine. On one side there was the big new Normandy bridge and the massive modern port of Le Havre and on the other side there was this old town with narrow cobblestone streets.
This is part of Sword beach where the British landed on D-Day.
Canada's Juno Beach Center ( http://www.junobeach.org/) and Juno Beach in front of it and where the Canadians landed on D-Day. I only made a very brief stop here because it was late and they were about to close for the day, so I'll do a more thorough visit tomorrow.