I was recently treated to the most wonderful trip to Normandy and Paris France.. This was a multi-dimensional excursion which I will never forget. My friend, Diane Lokey Farb, treated a small group of us to a three night stay at the famous Chateau de Balleroy. This was an exceptionally special occurance for me since my Dad also visited this same chateau as a guest of Malcolm Forbes. The Forbes family purchased the chateau in 1970 then fully restored and refurbished it. Built in 1631 by the celebrated architect Francois Mansart (1598-1666) at the request of Jean de Choisy, the Chateau de Balleroy and its surrounding buildings are one of the first urban plans that inspired other chateaux, including Versailles. Chateau de Balleroy remains a noble example of 17th century architecture. Our stay included breakfast each morning and a formal seated dinner each evening. Needless to say, I woke up each day not believing I was there!
Our first day’s excursion took us to the nearby town of Bayeux. This town is the centerpiece for two famous trans-Channel invasions. The conquest of England by Willian the Conquerer in 1066 started from Bayeux. Bayeux was the first French town liberated from Nazi occupation during WWll. We went to see the very famous and incredible “Bayeux Tapestry” which chronicles the conquest of England by William the Conquerer, Duke of Normandy, in 1066.
The next day we went to the town of Honfleur. Ports don’t come any prettier than Honfleur on the Seine’s estuary. Glorious historic houses jostle for position on the quays, as do amazing art galleries, shops and restaurants. A charming fishing port with colorful architecture, Honfleur looks much as it did when Claude Monet was a frequent visitor. It was definitely one of the most charming places I’ve ever visited.
Day three, which was also Memorial Day, we went had the “DDay Experience”, which I don’t even have the proper words to describe. First we went to Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach. Pointe du Hoc and Normandy Beach still contain so many German bunkers (which we walked into) and other landmarks from the war. It was eerie and emotional.
We then went to the Normandy American Cemetery. There are almost 10,000 buried there, representing about one third of the American dead of the Normandy Campaign. This vast cemetery is located on a scenic bluff overlooking the beach. What a day to be an American.
The last leg of our trip we went to Paris, which is always so fun and beautiful. Merci for such a wonderful experience!