The Norman Rockwell Exhibition in Normandy

Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With

 

The Norman Rockwell exhibition is currently on in Caen. It’s one of the temporary exhibitions at the Mémorial de Caen museum and runs until 27 October.

Rockwell exhibition

The Exhibition

It’s called ‘Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms’ and is part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The Rockwell exhibition has toured the USA but the Caen exhibition is the only opportunity to see it in Europe. Interestingly, this is the first time the Four Freedoms paintings have left the States.

Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell

As well as the Four Freedoms paintings, others paintings are on display including his most famous piece of artwork ‘The Problem We All Live With’. His attention to detail is remarkable and at times you think you’re looking at a photo rather than a painting.

Norman Rockwell exhibition

 

Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With

Practical information

The address of the Mémorial de Caen is:
Esplanade Général Eisenhower
CS 55026
14050 Caen Cedex 4

It’s located just 5 minutes by car from juntion 7 of the A84.

During August and September the exhition is open from 9am – 7pm. In October it’s open from 9.30am to 6pm.

Entry to the exhibition is 10€ and you can purchase your ticket in advance. For information about ticketing and the exhibition, visit the website.

There’s free parking right outside the museum. There are rest rooms once you go into the museum. There’s a separate entrance for the Norman Rockwell exhibition which is to the right of the main entrance. You can download an app that explains about the exhibition. There are signs in French and English describing each painting. The exhibition is spread over two floors.

Freedom of Worship by Norman Rockwell
Freedom of Worship by Norman Rockwell

You can watch Franklin D Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech below.

If you want to visit the main museum, you can buy a combined ticket. However, do allow plenty of time as there’s a lot to see. You can read more information about visiting the Mémorial de Caen here.

 

 

Bayeux Liberty Tree in Normandy

Bayeux liberty tree

The Bayeux Liberty Tree is a sound and light show that takes place every July and August. Visitors flock to Place de la Liberté as dusk falls to enjoy the evening spectacle.

Bayeux liberty tree

This year the son et lumière display is being shown on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings. Place de la Liberté is right next to the cathedral making it very easy to find as the cathedral dominates the skyline. The cathedral is also lit up while the show is on meaning that there’s plenty to occupy spectators.

Bayeux son et lumière Bayeux sound and light show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 360 degree film is projected onto the trunk of a large tree planted in 1797. It replaced a number of smaller trees and was planted during the time of the French Revolution. It is known as l’arbre de la liberté.

 

Bayeux liberty tree Bayeux's liberty tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 10 stories about different aspects of freedom and liberty. It includes reference to Martin Luther King, Ghandi and World War II. Although the film is in French the music, images and colours appeal to young and old of all nationalities.

 

Bayeux's liberty tree liberty tree in Bayeux

 

 

The event is held in the open air in a cobbled courtyard There’s no seating although you may be able to perch on a low stone wall or some steps. Typically the first people to arrive tend to gravitate towards the spots closest to the buildings. However, gradually the space fills up as more and more people arrive. Young children tend to sit at the front near the base of the tree as they’re mesmerised by the colours.

Bayeux cathedral

You can read more information here. The show is free and plays continually until 12.30am in July and midnight in August. The film lasts for around 40 minutes and changes each year.

The Cathedral and The Tapestry

This year the cathedral is open until 10.30pm and entry is also free. The cathedral was consecrated in 1077 and is magnificent. It was completed in the 19th century. You can read more about the cathedral here.  The cathedral was originally home to the Bayeux Tapestry. It is now located a short distance away in the tapestry museum.

The cathedral at Bayeux
The illuminated cathedral at dusk

For more information about the tapestry, read about my visit. You can also take a look at the video below of the 2018 Bayeux sound and light show. You have until 31st August to see it this year.

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

Normandy Liberation Celebrations

Normandy liberation celebrations

A range of events will be taking place from 31 July to 4 August as part of Normandy liberation celebrations.

Operation Cobra

The events will focus on the areas around Granville and Julloville which were both liberated on 31st July 1944.

Normandy liberation celebrations

Operation Cobra

Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army. The main activity took place from 25th – 28th July which was seven weeks after the D-Day landings. The aim was to attack while German troops were occupied in defending Caen. A huge, yet concentrated, aerial bombardment took place by Allied aircraft. As a result, German resistance collapsed and the offensive secured a victory in the Battle of Normandy.

Allied aircraft Allied aircraft

Event Highlights

Breville-sur-Mer – a reconstruction of an Allied military airbase Champeaux – a US military camp reconstruction
Granville – liberation parade, visits to the blockhouses and military camp at Pointe du Roc
Jullouville – International Airshow
Saint Pair-sur-Mer – Piper aircraft landing on the beach

Operation Cobra Normandy liberation celebrations

The liberation celebrations will end on Sunday 4th August with an airshow along the Granville to Julloville beaches. At least 40 planes and helicopters will take part. La Patrouille de France (the French equivalent of the Red Arrows) will also particpate. The timings are from 2 – 5pm. There will also be a static display of 350 vehicles from 10am to 5pm. At 5pm the vehicles will start the parade circuit. There will be parking restrictions and details of the route is on this website. There’s also additional information in English about the events here.

Normandy reconstruction camp Normandy reconstruction camp Granville blockhouse

This is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Normandy liberation celebrations.

The Colourful Gavray Market in Normandy

Gavray market

The Gavray market happens every Saturday morning from around 8.30am – 1pm. It’s not a huge market but is very much a focal point for residents. It’s a great event for visitors to really experience rural village life.

Gavray market Normandy market

The majority of stalls are in the square near to the church. They are predominantly fruit and vegetable stalls offering a wide range of produce. They try and keep the food miles down by growing themselves or supporting local producers when possible. There’s also very little plastic used so it’s very environmentally friendly. You take along your own shopping bag or basket to transport your purchases.

Gavray market French market produce

I took all these photos yesterday (20th July). At this time of year the Gavray market is bursting with colour. Cherries, apricots, melons, nectarines and peaches are all in season. Tomatoes, avocados, celery and lettuce are great salad ingredients. The tomatoes really are flavoursome.

market produce summer market in Normandy

There are also a couple of fish and seafood stalls and a cheese van. Sometimes you can buy plants, honey and cider from time to time. A coupe of food trucks grill sausages which are served in a baguette or with french fries.

French cherries summer fruits at the market in Gavray

The shops, bars and restaurants are also open so it’s very sociable event. A couple of the bars are opposite the market stalls so you can people watch while you enjoy a drink.

There’s a smaller Gavray market held on Wednesday mornings near La Place du Champ de Foire. You can buy fruit and vegetables here. Find out when Normandy market days are here.

 

Summer Events in Normandy

Summer Events in Normandy

Brochures for summer events in Normandy are now out. I picked up two brochures this week; one was for Coutances and the other for Villedieu-les-Poêles.

Normandy in the summer

Highlights in the Coutances area include:

  • Guided tours of the upper parts of the cathedral in English every Tuesday afternoon at 4.30pm. They run from July 9th to August 27th and cost 8€ for adults. Booking essential.
  • The 40th Marché Normand will take place on Saturday 13th July. The town is closed to traffic as classic cars, tractors and cows parade through the main street. There’s traditional dancing, a Normandy wedding and plenty of people dressed in traditional Normandy costumes.
  • Zic sur le Zinc is a series of free music concerts. There are 9 events happening across the summer months.
  • A 3 day family event in the elegant seaside town of Coutainville from 2nd – 4th August. Art, sports, food, music and fun for all the family is guaranteed at this free event.Summer events in Normandy

There are also events specifically for children, firework displays, exhibitions, guided tours, walks and much more. The brochure is here giving full details of all the events.

In Villedieu and the surround area, events include:

  • Free Tuesday evening music concerts in Villedieu in the main square (Place de la République)
  • A tourist train which will run from 1st July to 31st August around Villedieu. It costs 3€ for adults and 2€ for children and you can hop on an off as it goes around the town in a loop.
  • Pony rides for children on Friday afternoon in Villedieu. 2,50€ per child.
    Guided tours and demonstrations at some of the artisan museums in Villedieu. These include the bell foundry, the copper museum and the lace museum.

The brochure with full details of the summer events taking place is here.

Marché Normand in Gavray Marché Normand in Gavray

 

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

Exhibitions In Villedieu-les-Poêles, Normandy

Villedieu-les-Poêles Mairie

There are two exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles happening right now.

Exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles

The first exhibition is in the Tourist Office and is called Souvenirs de nos campagnes (Memories of our campaigns). It’s a tribute to the soldiers of World War 2 who liberated Normandy towns and villages after D-Day.

Exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles

The exhibition is the work of Monsieur Gabriel Bossard who is a private collector. Among the memorabilia are a uniform from a French soldier and an American one. Also included are everyday items such as toiletries, rations, first aid kits, toiletries and even a French/English phrase book. Descriptions for the display items are in French and English.

Tourist Office in villedieu

There are also photos of Hambye, Percy and Villedieu after D-Day.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Exhibition

It’s free and is only on until Friday 28th June but is well worth going to see. The tourist office is in La Place des Costils in Villedieu-les-Poêles. Their website is here.

The second exhibition is called 1944 – 2019 and commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the liberation of Villedieu. It’s an outdoor exhibition in the Jardin des Lavoirs. The garden is on the rue des Quais by the river Sienne.

Jardin des Lavoirs

Panels written in French give an overview of these two events and are illustrated with black and white photographs. Villedieu-les-Poêles was liberated on 2nd August 1944. The exhibition is also free and runs until 2nd September.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Exhibition

There’s also a display on the steps of the Mairie (town hall) to commemorate Villedieu’s liberation. What a fabulous display! These two exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles are definitely worth taking a look at.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Mairie

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

What’s On In Normandy This Weekend

What’s On In Normandy This Weekend

Looking to find out what’s on in Normandy this weekend? Here are just a few suggestions.

Fête de la Musique

 

Normandy music

This weekend Normandy will host a series of concerts throughout the region. There’s one in Gavray on Friday 21st from 8.30pm and it’s free. Alternatively, why not go to a summer concert given by a local choir at Hambye Abbey. It starts at 6.30pm on Saturday 22nd and is also free. For the full list of events, take a look at the website to find out what’s on. The concerts range from gospel, choral, rock, pop and jazz so there’s something for everyone. The majority of the concerts are free.

Antique Fair

 

What's on in NormandyIf you quite like the thought of finding a genuine French antique, head to Granville on Sunday 23rd. This is a monthly event and is called a brocante. It will be held in the Cours Jonville which is a square in the centre of the town. The fair opens at 8am and closes at 6pm. It’s held in the open-air but the weather is due to be good this weekend. Make sure your you have cash with you and you know your French number if you ask the price of something.

Normandy brocante

Local Fair

The village of Percy is holding its annual fair on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June. On the Saturday there will be a funfare, bands and a firework display. On Sunday there will be more music and also a parade of floats from 2pm. The theme this year is the 1970s. I’m sure some of the costumes are going to be very entertaining!

Fireworks in Normandy

For more information about summer events in and around Villedieu-les-Poêles, take a look at this brochure. Normandy certainly has a lot going on.

 

A Guided Tour in Roncey, Normandy

Guided tour in Roncey

Earlier this week I went on a guided tour in Roncey, a small Normandy village in La Manche region. For over an hour we heard the story of how Roncey was liberated on 29th July 1944, the destruction and the re-building after the war.

Guided tour in Roncey

The American troops that had landed at Utah Beach on 6th June began to advance inland and liberate towns and villages. A small area near St-Lô was selected and bombed extensively so that the defences could be penetrated. This led to the ‘Roncey pocket’ where German troops became trapped in Roncey in their attempts to flee the advancing troops. Their exit route was blocked by a broken down lorry and they could not escape. Fierce fighting and bombing ensued on 28th July until Roncey was finally liberated on 29th July.

Guided tour in Roncey Guided tour in Roncey Guided tour in Roncey

As well as the loss of life, around 70% of Roncey was demolished. The town hall (Mairie), school and the presbytery remained. The church was demolished along with 46 houses. 43 other dwellings were damaged and further damage was caused by pillaging and bulldozers clearing the village. The photos above show the church as it was, after it was destroyed and the modern structure that has replaced it.

 

Reconstruction

There are a number of information boards throughout the village in both French and English with photos showing how the village used to look.

Guided tour in Roncey Guided tour in Roncey

The information board above showing Place de la Halle is on the blue building in the photo above.

 

Guided tour in Roncey

This row of brightly coloured houses and shops are directly opposite the church and the main square. They were completely demolished on 28th to 29th July.

The buildings were rebuilt using concrete and brightly painted. Here you can see an example of a new building (salmon pink in colour) contrasting with an older building that survived the bombings.

Guided tour in Roncey

 

Town Hall (Mairie)

There is also an exhibition in the town hall. Their opening hours are:

Tuesday : 8h30-12h30 / 14h30-18h30

Wednesday : 8h30-12h30

Thursday : 8h30-12h30 / 14h30-17h

Friday : 8h30-12h30

Saturday : 9h00-12h

Email : mairieroncey@wanadoo.fr

Website : www.roncey.fr

For information about the guided tour in Roncey and others, please see this information. The tour will be repeated on 26th July and 9th August. You meet at 11am near the church, it’s free and you don’t need to book. The tour is in French but the panels as you walk around the village are in French and English.

 

 

A Normandy D-Day Poem

D-Day poem

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6th June, I wanted to share this poem to honour the veterans.

WHO ARE THESE MEN?
Who are these men who march so proud,
Who quietly weep, eyes closed, head bowed?
These are the men who once were boys,
Who missed out on youth and all its joys.
Who are these men with aged faces,
Who silently count the empty spaces?
These are the men who gave their all,
Who fought for their country for freedom for all.
Who are these men with sorrowful look
Who can still remember the lives that were took?
These are the men who saw young men die,
The price of peace is always high.
Who are these men who in the midst of pain,
Whispered comfort to those they would not see again?
These are the men whose hands held tomorrow,
Who brought back our future with blood tears and sorrow.
Who are these men who promise to keep
Alive in their hearts the ones God holds asleep?
These are the men to whom I promise again:
‘Veterans’, my friends – I will remember them!

A beautiful poem written by Jodie Johnson in 1996 when she was 11.

D-Day poem

This year the commemorations are very high profile with dignitaries from all over the world attending events. Normandy is also welcoming many veterans and/or their families this week.

If you’re anywhere from Cherbourg to Mont-Saint-Michel on the afternoon of Friday 7th June you might be lucky enough to see a fly-past by 4 Dakota aircraft. The Dakotas will be following the Voie de la Liberté which is the route taken by the American troops as they advanced south after D-Day. They’ll take off from Cherbourg-Maupertus airport at 13.41 and will arrive at Huisnes-sur-Mer at 15.00 which is just south of Mont-Saint-Michel. At each of the following towns they will circle before heading onto the next destination: Cherbourg, Valognes, Sainte-Mère-Église, Utah Beach, Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont, St-Lô, Villedieu-les-Poêles, Avranches, Pontorson. Huisnes-sur-Mer is the resting place of almost 12,000 German soldiers who died during the Battle of Normandy. The video below shows the route and the expected times of the Dakotas.

 

D-Day In La Manche Region of Normandy

D-Day in La Manche

This week Normandy is hosting a whole range of events to commemorate D-Day. Four of the D-Day landing beaches are in the department of Calvados while the fifth is located in La Manche region.

D-Day in La Manche

In La Manche region the key locations are Carentan, Sainte-Mère-Église and Utah Beach. The full calendar of events in Normandy can be found here.

Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy

This website (in French) gives an overview of the road closures and traffic restrictions for the D-Day events in La Manche. This includes Carentan on the 5th, Utah Beach on the 6th and Sainte-Mère-Église on the 9th. There is no windscreen sticker system in place (there is in Calvados on the 6th) but it is inevitably going to be very busy.

Utah Beach was the landing beach where American troops landed. There is a museum overlooking Utah Beach and it will be open on the 6th. Sainte-Mère-Église is home to the Airborne Museum that honours the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The museum is across the square from the church where an effigy of a paratrooper hangs.

Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy