Tuesday, 15 July 2008

the big send off

It was very nice of the French to arrange not one, but two, huge firework displays to mark our departure from the continent. So sweet of them! The first, at Courseilles-sur-Mer, was on the Sunday night and was preceded by some psycopathic amateur attempts by local teenagers on the beach - throwing bangers, firing mortars and rockets at odd angles, often narrowly missing each other. Seeing as the beach in question was Juno beach, stormed successfully by Canadian troops during World War II's D-Day landings there was a strange echo to such antics. Then, at about 11, the municipal offerings kicked in, firing off from the town pier over the water for a good ten minutes. It was impressive, not least because we'd only decided to come here the day before, seeking some sun after overcast Paris skies, so they didn't have much time to put the show together! Indeed, we nearly missed it ourselves, catching it only after electing to take an evening stroll along the beach after a day of lazing about reading, playing games, swimming and sun bathing.

We took the scenic route to Cherbourg and followed the coast past the other D-Day beaches of Gold, Omaha and Utah and various memorials and cemeteries. Seeing these long stretches of sand that would have provided the allied forces with no cover at all from enemy fire as they disembarked from their pontoons was a sobering moment for us both.

However, after a beer in the fishing port of Barfleur and a crepe in Cherbourg, we were more than ready to appreciate Cherbourg's firework display before we made our way to the Ferry car park to await our passage home. Our ferry back to England from Cherbourg was early on the 15th and had been booked for some time, so the port town had had plenty of warning to plan their cordite reception for us and the send-off fireworks didn't disappoint. We have grown very fond of France, and it would seem France has grown fond of us - unless we're missing something.

Vive La France!

(Note: July 14th is Bastille Day and is celebrated across France with public firework displays. Mere coincidence, of course.)

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