Sunday, April 16, 2017
My travels to France are limited to the northern regions, as the furthest south that my family ventured was to Paris and Versailles. We started our French adventure on the shores of the English Channel, visiting the various beaches involved in the D-Day landings of World War II. There is some incredible history embedded that area, and I was especially intrigued by some of the old artillery bunkers that are further back from the shore. While some of them are still intact, most of them are overgrown piles of concrete and dirt, separated by large divots in the ground created by shell explosions. It’s amazing that the remnants of a war that happened over 60 years ago can still sit out in the open as a tangible piece of history. Visiting the American and German national cemeteries was a somber experience, and it is eye-opening to the horrors of war to stand among the endless rows of markers that stand in memory of fallen soldiers. After moving on from the Normandy beaches, we went to Paris. I am not a city person to begin with, and I can’t say that I recommend Paris as the beautiful destination it is often made out to be. Certain areas, such as the Champs Elysees, Palace of Versailles, and other well-kept buildings and gardens, are beautiful and worth the visit. The rest of the city, however, was very dirty and seemed unfriendly. Perhaps that was just my initial dislike of cities showing through, but I had others in my family confirm my feelings. We were visiting Europe during the Euro, and, while we were in Paris, the French national team was eliminated from the tournament by Spain. There was an interesting atmosphere immediately following that result, a combination of riots in public viewing areas and people driving circles around the Arc de Triomphe waving Spanish flags out of their car windows! What better time to experience foreign culture than a time of intense sports competition… I will be returning to France for another visit soon, as my sister is studying abroad next semester and we will be joining her around Christmastime to see the area of France that she will be living in, an area that we have yet to visit. In many ways, France reminds me of places in the U.S., and I will be eager to see if that trend continues into the more average areas off the country.