They settled, just for one blessed instant, on a place that held love, not loss.Louise Penny, A Still Life
I promise this entry will be much lighter than the last few chapters of my travelogue have been – finally focusing on a sense of peace and awe instead of destruction! Savour it well because the next one will tell of our visit to the beaches of WWII fame. And that one is a doozy.
After taking in as much as possible of the information about Caen’s experience of the Second World War, we turned away from this beautifully tragic city towards our next destination: Bayeux.
It took a little while to get out of the city at all, rush hour traffic was horrendous! Much worse than anything I’ve ever experienced in Ottawa. On top of this, the GPS was playing tricks again leading us to make far more turns around the numerous roundabouts so favoured in Europe than were strictly necessary. But, finally, we made it thanks to Dad’s confident (some might say…as aggressive as a Canadian might ever get which is not very) and continued on our way towards the home of a certain famous tapestry.
arriving in bayeux
Upon arriving at what the famously coy GPS insisted was our B&B’s address, on a quiet street with no lights in any of the windows or along the street, we parked the car and looked around completely confused. Luckily, Dad found a small, almost imperceptible, sign beside two huge red doors in a stone wall that proclaimed our Aggarthi lay beyond the impenetrable barrier somewhere. We rang the bell, a little nervous that we might be met with a grouchy stranger wrapped in a housecoat considering the late hour.
Thankfully, instead we were allowed to pass through the great red doors into a small courtyard and were greeted by a smiling young woman who looked about my age. Simultaneously, our arrival was celebrated in exuberance by two adorable white terriers – I could already tell I was going to like our hosts, especially of the canine variety.
The woman explained that they hadn’t been sure if we were coming or not as they had never received a confirmation e-mail from dad. Luckily, despite our (his) negligence, they had a family suite available. I was beyond grateful for this spot of luck as I was far to tired to repeat the experience from years earlier of traipsing around a French city late into the night looking for a place to sleep…
After explaining the area to us, she let us into our room on the top floor of a three-story walkup. I got the room with the bunkbeds and the attic-style windows with two armchairs for reading – perfectly suited to my “as yet unsuccessful writer” esthetic – while Dad took the double bed in the main room complete with beautiful European windows and an on-suite bathroom.
In order to give our hosts time to make the now-unexpectedly occupied beds, we headed out for a walk through the city bathed in the golden light of streetlamps (apparently these did exist, just not on our street). Being steps away from the medieval downtown core (ah! That might explain the lack of public lighting!), we had no problem finding several places to eat – once we had finished exploring the alleyways a little!
Hearing our stomachs begin to grumble, we decided the heed the call of our hunger and chose where we would eat based solely on the fact that it served the French Onion Soup Dad was so desperately craving. He devoured this while I dutifully photographed my seafood platter like a good millenial.
As you can see from the picture, my plate was filled with all kinds of oceanic delicacies but what was most eye-catching were the shrimp which looked up at me with their beady little eyes as they rested, fully be-legged, on a bed of lettuce. Being more accustomed to the more garden-variety pre-shelled version of this little crustacean, it took all my self-control not to gag as I ripped of their legs and shell, not to mention their heads, to get at the meat inside. Why do I eat meat again?
With our bellies pleasantly full and our minds at ease, we headed back to our suite for a good night’s rest. Finally, it was with thoughts of love – of good food, company and quiet contemplation – and not loss that I lay my head down for the night.
The next day, however, would bring more than its fair share of reflection on both loss and love. Warning: the post coming up is a tough one as I attempt to grapple with the sheer magnitude of the storming of the beaches.
But, until then remember, Life is beautiful.