After a calm night and another magnificent breakfast, I checked out of my hotel and headed in the general direction of “town”. Approximately thirty minutes later, I had officially explored all that Bayeux’s shopping district had to offer. Not much to see on a sleepy Wednesday morning, but I did stumble across the smallest street market of all time, with a grand total of three vendors.
I spent lunch at the British Cemetery on the outskirts of town. It holds half as many soldiers as the American Cemetery, and isn’t quite so well known, so I sat in silence for nearly an hour before any other tourists came along. Is it strange that I feel so at peace in cemeteries? I don’t think so. It’s kind of a nice way to be undisturbed, but not alone. Wonderful places to let your mind wander.
I ended the afternoon with a tour through Bayeux’s Musée-Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie (Museum of the Battle of Normandy), which was surprisingly well produced, given that it’s a little out of the way for most D-Day tourists. It focused on the tactics of the military leaders on both sides and their particular duties throughout 1944, but didn’t really give any information that I hadn’t already learned at the Musée du Débarquement. It did, however, have a neat section on the role of the media in the war and the censorship that journalists self-imposed in order to maintain civilian morale. It must have been difficult to see incredibly moving sights on the battlefield but not capture them on film, just so that the families back home wouldn’t have to see the horrors that their sons went through. As a beginning photographer, I want to take pictures of everything around me; I can’t imagine the willpower involved in letting monumental events go by without being documented.
I said goodbye to Normandie on Wednesday afternoon and made the four-hour train ride back to Tours. It was a short trip, but absolutely one of the most moving experiences I’ve had in Europe. I’m thankful that I was able to learn more about our world’s history and spend some time on my own to reflect on the true meanings of service and sacrifice.