Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Normandy Journal: Udderly Normandy

photograph of Norman cow by Hallie Cohen
“Leurs Enfants Morts Pour La France” (1914-1918) is the inscription on a monument in the environs of this consecrated part of France. For Americans Normandy means D-Day but the French also fought great battles along the Normandy coast in defense of their land.William the Conqueror, who was also Duke of Normandy, drove the troops of Henry the Ist back into the sea in l058. Cabourg, one of the major "villes" along the sea is also where Proust came between l907-14 (there's a Marcel Proust room in the local Grand Hotel) and it's the inspiration for the author’s Balbec which appears in The Remembrance of Things Past. On the coast of the English channel at the mouth of the river Dives, Belle Epoque hotels dot the harbor area of Cabourg which has now become a major tourist mecca. Cabourg has streets named after Jorge Semprun and Jacques Prevert, but one of the avenues is also named for Marechal Joffre, a World War I hero who orchestrated the victory at the battle of the Marne. Normandy has some of the most beautiful countryside in France including Beuvron-en-Auge, which was voted to be one of LES PLUS BEAUX VILLAGES de FRANCE (though the little jewel has almost been destroyed by scorched earth tourism). Even the cows who cluster around lush looking trees look happy. The overwhelming beauty is made all the more spectacular by contrast to all the death and destruction that this region of France has endured. 

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