If you read yesterday’s post, you knew we had booked a tour and purchased train tickets at the last second for an on-the-fly trip to the D-Day beaches this past weekend… and you knew that we weren’t even sure if we were going to have a tour when we actually arrived in Bayeux.
Let’s get to the visual punch line:
We did end up making it to Omaha Beach.
While on the train (the boys and baby were asleep) I whipped out my cellphone and the iPad, turned on the phone’s Internet hotspot, and reserved a car for the day from Hertz. (It was only 88 euros once we filled it back up with gas.)
My reasoning was I’d rather have both a tour and a rental car than neither. And we had brought the car seat, knowing that we would need it for the tour anyway. That came in handy on the train as well, since we set it up in Baby Girl’s free train seat and strapped her in when it was clear she needed a nap and would not fall asleep in our arms.
The only thing to be wary of about the Hertz car rental in Bayeux is that you cannot walk to it from the train station- you have to hire a cab. Luckily I already knew this after looking around the interwebs for reviews. I shared a taxi with some weary-looking Americans while David, Emmanuel and Adelaide stayed at the train station and ate the lunch we packed (and therefore saved us more dineros. Score.) Turns out my weary friends were so tired because they had flown in that morning from Texas to Paris, hopped on a train, and then arrived in Bayeux… and they spoke no French. We realized it was a really cool God moment when we arrived at the Hertz car rental and the woman behind the counter spoke no English, so I was able the translate.
I just want to pause for a moment and let it sink in that the French woman at the Hertz car rental in Bayeux, Normandie, where all of the WW2 American historic sites are located, spoke no English!
A very few moments after getting my keys, another flustered American couple walked in the door- their rental car had broken down. They spoke no French. The French woman was still there, as unfortunately unhelpful to them as ever. Tra la la! I translated. They got a new car. The world kept turning.
And then I was off! IN MY FIRST RENTAL CAR (EVER) IN FRANCE (EVER) IN EUROPE (EVER) EVER!!!!!!!
Thrilled does not quite cover how I felt. Perhaps after a year’s hiatus from from that classic American drug – driving a car – the high was too much for me. Perhaps it was because I went to bed at three and got up at five. Perhaps it was because I was insanely proud of the fact that I figured out how to get that strange car to roll (it was a manual transmission… with no clutch.)
After driving through Bayeux’s centre ville (a mistake to be sure- DON’T DRIVE THROUGH MEDIEVAL TOWNS WITH TINY ROADS ON MARKET DAY UNLESS YOU ENJOY HEART ATTACKS) I arrived at the train station, picked up my family, and we were off!
We headed straight for Omaha Beach.
We got out and realized the weather we looked up was a little on the
lying optimistic side. So we were a little chilled… but our travel-sized companion was not.
The cold, the wind and the grey made for the perfect atmosphere in which to visit the place in World War II where the Allied Forces invaded northern France and changed history.
This was only our first stop… more to come tomorrow.