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Scenic Gem: 11 day Gems of the Seine plus Normandy (hopefully live thread)

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From the Juno Beach Centre we travelled to the the village of Bénouville and the Caen Canal, the site of the Pegasus Bridge.   The original bridge was built in 1934 and was replaced in 1994 when the canal needed to be widened. 

 

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On the night of June 5, 1944, 181 men in 6 gliders took off from Dorset in England to capture this plus Horsa Bridge a few hundred yards to the east and land, 3 gliders by each bridge, to take both bridges intact and hold them until relieved by the main British invasion forces. The successful capture of the bridges played an important role in limiting the effectiveness of a German counter-attack. 

 

5 of the gliders landed within 47 yards of their respective bridge at 16 minutes past midnight completely surprising the Germans and captured the bridges within 10 minutes.   2 men were lost in the process.   1 glider landed 7 miles off target at a bridge over the river Dives. Most of these soldiers were able to move through German lines and eventually rejoin the British forces. 

 

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Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we were ready to cross by foot a boat caused the bridge to lift. What a treat to get to see in action!

 

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The owner of this (now) cafe was liberated by the British and to this day will not serve German tourists. 

 

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On the other side of the canal the actual glider landing sites are marked and commemorated. 

 

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A short walk brings us to another plaque commemorating the bridge. 

 

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And the museum holding the original bridge. 

 

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Many of the soldiers killed in the actions of June 1944 are buried in the commonwealth war cemetery at Ranville and the adjoining churchyard. The cemetery is 10 km away from the village of Caen.  Rainville was the first village to be liberated in the D-Day landings. 

 

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The Cross of Sacrifice is central in this cemetery as it is at Bény-sur-Mer.

 

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The grounds are beautifully landscaped and immaculately kept. The cemetery contains 2,236 commonwealth burials, 90 of them unidentified. There are also 323 German graves plus a few from other nationalities. The churchyard contains 47 commonwealth burials, one of which is unidentified, and one German grave.  

 

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There are 76 Canadians interred at Rainville War Cemetery including 9 members of the RCAF, 3 CANLOAN officers and 57 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. 

 

Along with the the Cross of Sacrifice, we decided to leave a flag beside the grave of the most decorated airman of WWII.  One of our Australian travel companions had left hand made poppies at every gravesite in this row of heroes. It was very moving. 

 

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I had also brought poppies from home and left them in the greenery at the base of some of the Canadian graves, including 2 brothers. 

 

Time to return to the boat. It was an emotional day. We would be sailing out of Honfleur after dinner and back under the Bridge of Normandy. 

 

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1 hour ago, 1of4 said:

The statue is entitled Remembrance and Renewal. My pictures are on my cell phone and I don’t always see the auto correct mistakes or the mysterious double word posts or non capitalization of first words in paragraphs.

 

Statue entitled Rembrandt and Renewal. 

 

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You our can visit the centre’s website at junobeach.org  

 

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After dinner we sailed out of Honfleur. I was in the lounge with my double hot chocolate (I know, big drinker here) and after such a long and emotional day I didn’t have the energy to go outside and up to the sun deck. So the following photos were taken through the window. 

 

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Back into the English Channel for 5 minutes. Movement was barely noticeable. 

 

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The beautiful Bridge of Normandy marks the start of the Seine. 

 

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Great to see pictures of the estuary we didn’t because the French authorities had not signed off for Scenic to moor in Honfluer. Scenic gave each of us poppies to put on graves as we wished we ended up with quite a few as several people could not make excursion for various reasons. We chose to put them on the unnamed graves. Thank you for your wonderful photo graphs, I like to think I’m a photographer but your eye is excellent. CA

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As the sun was setting on the Seine estuary I took this video by lowering the window in our cabin sun lounge.  Not great quality but gives you an idea of how peaceful it was.  Hundreds of birds settling in for the night.  Symmetrical trees lining the shore...or are they in the water?  We still can’t tell.

 

 

 

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It’s Tuesday and a very pleasant surprise awaited. When choosing excursions at home the visit to the textile museum was unavailable. So when given the opportunity to choose again once on-board I was excited to see it back as an option.  As a quilter (until I got sick 4 years ago) and now as a bag maker, I was very interested in seeing the museum and it was something different. I was surprised that so many others were also interested but on the way to the coach an Australian shared the definition of ABC or another bloody cathedral which may explain the interest!

 

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The morning was beautiful with fog coming off the river. 

 

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It was beautifully sunny at the moment but we were warned to take one of the golf umbrellas as we scanned off of the boat. 

 

Caudebec-En-Caux is a beautiful town that we looked forward to walking around in the afternoon. 

 

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Our guide was from this town but was also a guide in Rouen and Honfleur. Very knowledgeable and personable. On our way to the town of Bolbec she explained how the town developed because of the mills which lined the river banks. At the height of the 19th century there were 14 mills in town. Each mill provided housing, schools, church, etc for its workers who stayed within the mill boundaries. Workers put in 14 hour days and, until school became mandatory in the later 1800s, children worked alongside their parents. 

 

Little remains of the textile industry in Bolbec except for this museum on the site of the Desgenétais works. 

 

The mill was was on one side and the looms on the other. 

 

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Now run run by a group of volunteers, the museum has recreated what textile manufacturing was like through time. The whole process was explained from how raw cotton is turned into thread, ribbons, cables and fabric. All the machines are in working order. 

 

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I could go on and on about this excursion. I just loved it. I have so many photos and videos of each machine and interesting, to me anyway, grouping of thread balls and old sewing machines. It is my hobby that has enabled  me to stay sane over the past 4+ years and I know some people who will love to see them. 

 

But I don’t want your eyes to roll back in your head so I will be brief. 

 

We were toured through time right from the spinning wheel and hand loom to computerized weaving. 

 

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This is the noise of only one mechanized looms. Can you imagine over 170 of them in a room for 14 hours straight with no ear protection?

 

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The origin of the mill’s wealth was its ability to produce indiennes which I call chinz which is a printed and glazed cotton fabric. 

 

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Edited by 1of4

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The collection of old sewing machines alone would have kept my interest for another hour. 

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We finished up our tour and had the opportunity to purchase items made in the factory. You know I just couldn’t pass that up and I am so happy I didn’t. €9.99 for 3 dish towels and €3.99 each for the others. The quality is second to none I’ve seen in the last 30 years. 

 

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We were were then back on the coach making our way to the cider farm. The skies opened!

 

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We we were met by the farmer himself who provided a history of the property, how the drinking of cider has changed over time and had a PowerPoint presentation on his process. We could then go into his shop and taste all stages of apple cider from juice to Calvados. The shop itself was interesting. I’m glad I can read basic French to understand the ingredients list!

 

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The end part of the shop has been turned into a museum. 

 

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On the way home we stopped by a 900 year old oak tree with 2 homes inside!

 

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On our cruise we were the only ones who went to Bolbec it was my choice and my husband came as I am an avid crafter you name it if a needle is involved I do it. The sheer history of this place is amazing. As for the Jaquard looms they are the original computers. I’m so pleased someone else enjoyed it. CA

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After lunch back onboard and after a bit of a rest DH and I decided to go for a walk around the town. The Town Hall was just a short stroll down the river and, let’s be honest, we were being fed very well so a bit of exercise was necessary!

 

The first thing you will notice about Caudebec-en-Caux is that it doesn’t look like other Normandy towns.  The explanation is clear when you understand that the town was 80% destroyed during WWII and saw much conflict during the religious wars of the 1600s. Medieval structures and twisting narrow roads have been replaced with smooth clean lines and  ancient brooks that gave the town its name now run in neat stone clad gullies.  Flowers are used to soften the modern edges. 

 

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Town Hall

 

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We poked about until we found ourselves gawking at Notre Dame Church. It was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and King Henry IV of France is said to have declared to be the most beautiful in his kingdom. 

 

Who am I to argue with a king?!

 

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Our sail out of Caudebec-en-Caux was spectacular. Most others were still in the dining room and I had the lounge virtually to myself. My husband had gone to the cabin to change so I chose a seat by a window to wait while the bar staff tripped over themselves to get me something. The service is extraordinarily!

 

You can see the reflection of the lounge lights and the colours of the polarized (?) windows but look beyond that to what I saw. 

 

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It was Wednesday, that meant another bucket list check-off excursion. It was Giverny Day!

 

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We had been to L’Orangerie in Paris but I really wanted to see the gardens for myself. 

 

I was up up before we docked and watching the magical views through the sun lounge. 

 

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Once again the the river was putting on a good show due to the difference in water and air temperature. It was supposed to be a cold rainy morning but it turned out to be sunny and warm. 

 

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we docked right beside the information building in Vernon. Giverny is just across the bridge and a few km down the river. 

 

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Our group was about 30 people. This is the only negative I have about all the excursions. Given the size of the group and how narrow the paths are in the gardens and how crowded it gets very quickly, the group was too big by half. If you were at the end of the group you were too far away from their voice transmitter and you couldn’t hear or see your guide. Easy to get lost in the crowds. 

 

We were there at opening which was amazing since we could get pictures in the water garden before it got crowded. 

 

Walking in Giverny making our way to Monet’s house. 

 

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Groups enter down here. Expect a quick bag check. 

 

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I was was so excited and we weren’t even at the good stuff yet! LOL

 

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No words. I just picked a few pictures but I can’t do it justice. 

 

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The crowds build very quickly so I really appreciated being first in the water garden. By the time we had done the loop it was difficult to manoeuvre on the narrow pathways. Time to go up to where the house in and more gardens. Guides aren’t allowed in the house as it isn’t big enough for groups. We had been told where and when to meet back up with our guide to get back to the boat. 

 

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Told you!

 

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View from an upstairs window 

 

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DH and I

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The studio Monet used to paint the water lily canvases is now the gift shop. It is large!

 

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Back to the Gem. 

 

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Even for me using a cane, the gangway was very easy to use. 

 

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As we sailed up river, I was able to sit on the sun deck and use my Tailormade to know where we were and hear information about points of interest. 

 

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Edited by 1of4

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1 hour ago, puppycanducruise said:

Thank you for sharing your pictures of Giverny.

The gardens are beautiful.  Someday, I hope to get there.

 

 

I hope you do too.  You can do half day tours from Paris but ensure you get there at opening or it just gets too crowded, in my opinion.  Certain cultures will just push you over rather than wait 5 seconds for you to pass.  My cane made zero difference to them.  That said, I’d go back and do it all over again.  It is open 7 months of the year and is one of the top attractions in France.

 

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Your camera caught just how beautiful the gardens are, I wished afterwards I had skipped going into the house and just spent time in the gardens.

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3 hours ago, cruiseryyc said:

Your camera caught just how beautiful the gardens are, I wished afterwards I had skipped going into the house and just spent time in the gardens.

Interesting advice.  I'll remember that for when we go 🤞.

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1 hour ago, puppycanducruise said:

Interesting advice.  I'll remember that for when we go 🤞.

 

Absolutely do the water garden first then the house.  The line for the house was massive but it went quickly.  You do the house at your own pace and exit out the kitchen door and can go back into the gardens or turn left for the workshop/gift shop and exit.

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We are getting closer to Paris and Thursday found us moored in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.  We had chosen the excursion to Chateau De Chantilly in the town of Chantilly which is still known in equestrian circles.  The Chateau has 8 centuries of history to discover.

 

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A building was on this location from the Middle Ages and through to the 19th century it was shaped by its various owners.  The Domain of Chantilly is closely intertwined with the history of France.  Walking through the Chateau, we no longer wonder the reason for the French Revolution.  The wealth was unbelievable.

 

We arrived before the gates opened.

 

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I didn’t bring my wide angle lens to get the whole building in one picture.  It was used as a hunting chateau and many parts of Versailles were modelled after this chateau.

 

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Main entrance over the mote

 

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Chapel in the inner courtyard 

 

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The reading room

 

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I kept looking up as the ceilings were so ornate!

 

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