Today was rather big. We managed to see quite a few things and eat a lot of food. There was also some beer and wine and cidre and, eventually, gin. It was a good day but a long one.
The best thing however was that we did it all by bus (almost). We bought five 24 hour bus tickets and just rode around to our hearts content…which is a lot.
The bus was essential because our first stop was to be at the Caen Memorial, a museum dedicated to the Normandy invasion and the whole of World War II as it led up to and followed on from, it.
The building sits, unobtrusively upon the landscape. It was built atop an old quarry, the actual quarry hole being requisitioned during the war by a German officer for use as his command bunker.
You enter a big open room and, having purchased a ticket (or five in our case) you start to head down a ramp towards the story of the war.
It begins with the end of WWI and explains how things stood and how they gradually deteriorated until we had the god awful mess that resulted in the deaths of so many innocent people. I know we had to beat fascism but I’m not sure why we had to kill quite so many civilians on the way. It’s almost like we were as bad as they were.
The museum was very disquieting. It’s difficult to imagine how people could be so utterly numb to killing. People may have difficulty accepting that we are descended from animals but when we act like them, it’s hard to see that we aren’t.
The place is superb if somewhat sombre and mind-numbingly awful. The people that shout out against other people because they are not from the same place as they are really, really need to take a look at this sort of place. No-one wins this kind of thing. Not the picked on or the pickers. It’s just a way of throwing away human beings like so much fertiliser.
Anyway, here’s a photo of Lorna with a very small car, just to change the mood a little.
Having filled our heads with war, it was time to fill our tummies with galettes so off we headed (on a bus) to a lovely little creperie situated in what was once an area of ill-repute but now just has lots of restaurants, including this one.
Interestingly, the street survived the so-called ‘liberation’ of Caen. While it made a lot of people happy, the 12,000 citizens who were killed by the allied bombing and the fact that 90% of the place was reduced to brick dust, could be seen in a somewhat less than favourable light.
Our tummies dutifully full, we headed out to visit one of the two abbeys in Caen. First up it was the ladies one. It was built for Mathilda, wife of Bill the Bastard and is rather plain…though not from the outside.
While it’s very plain, the inside is extremely bright and airy and not at all as foreboding as a lot of Abbeys. As a place of tourist worship, I didn’t mind it though Darren was somewhat underwhelmed by it’s dullness.
I could be a bit biased though because I found a rather magical St Sebastian carved into the pulpit. The poor chap looks a bit put out if you ask me.
We then headed up to the chateau which looks remarkably well preserved until you realise it’s really just the walls which mask a car park underneath and a bus park inside. Still, the place looks impressive and there is an art installation which really defies description.
We had a rather wishy washy nameless and tasteless beer each (basically because we wanted to sit and get out of the biting wind for a bit) before heading off for the men’s abbey which is for Bill and meant a lovely walk through an almost pedestrianised street crammed with shops, shoppers and killer vans. It would have been pleasant had the cars just buggered off.
The signage for Bill’s Abbey could be a bit more accurate. They emphatically point the hapless visitor towards the Hotel de Ville. Reaching the Hotel de Ville, the visitor is told to go back out, retrace their steps and turn right where they turned left as the signs had indicated. Most odd.
Eventually we found it and Darren paid homage to Bill’s final resting place (though no-one knows for certain if he’s still there) and we all had a jolly good wander.
One thing Bill’s abbey had that Mathilda’s lacked was a Joan. Made in the early 1920’s, she shines out with all the purity and glory she supposedly had.
Soon enough we decided to head back to the house to drink some decent beer (Leffe) and prepare ourselves for dinner. It was during this brief interlude that I spotted Hope. Or rather, her presence.
Hope is the name of the dead child in the haunted room on my floor of the house. The one who vaguely swings in the bassinet. Apparently she is a little older than the baby we first thought because she plays on the swings in the garden.
I was in my room getting changed for dinner when I spotted the red swing slowly moving back and forth with the assistance of some invisible entity that could only be Hope. She was enjoying herself in that strange kind of way that only invisible entities do.
I didn’t get a photograph because no matter what I did, there was nothing there to actually photograph. It was all rather Victorian.
Heading out to dinner we managed to cram into a small restaurant which was full to overflowing…well it was after we turned up unannounced. And what a treat. Brilliant food, great service, excellent wine. The place is called Le Bouchon du Vauguex (12 Rue Graindorge) and is highly recommended though it’s pretty important to make a reservation because it’s very, very popular.
The walk home was necessary in order to push the food down and settled our digestive tracts for the night.