London – Day 2

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

In front of Canada gate at Buckingham Palace

In front of Canada gate at Buckingham Palace

We had another great day in London today! We took a combination of buses and subways today (or walking) to get everywhere we wanted to go. We were able to see Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Tower Bridge, and (very briefly – it was super crowded!) Leicester Square. We were able to have some free time in Covent Garden for lunch and had a super fish and chips supper tonight. We walked through St James Park (the Queen’s Walkway) on our way to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – it was interesting to watch (and quite crowded)! We also took the time to walk down two of the more famous streets of London (Oxford Road and Regent Road) in search of souvenirs! It seems that our time here has gone by very quickly as we will be heading home tomorrow.

London – Day 1

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This morning we had a 9am Eurostar train ride so we were up quite early in Paris. The train ride was only a couple of hours long (we took the “Chunnel” – the train tunnel under the English Channel!!) so we were in London nice and early (PLUS with the time change, we gained an hour so we are now only 7 hours ahead of Saskatchewan!). We then took a great bus tour of London with our local guide Keith. He was super informative and let us get out of the bus occasionally to walk around and take pictures. Our first stop was St. Paul’s Cathedral where our guide took us to the crypts. We also were able to walk right up to Westminster Abbey (where people like Charles Darwin and Sir Issac Newton are buried!) but we didn’t go inside since the line to go in was very long. We also saw the clock tower (home to the bell, Big Ben), London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace. Our Harry Potter fans were also happy to see several locations that were used in the movies in real life! We also saw the reproduction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and then had supper not far from Piccadilly Circus. Tomorrow, we are set to take a more detailed walking tour of London as well as see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Chartres & Paris!

We had another full day of touring yesterday! We left our hotel in Dinan and drove to Chartres to see the beautiful old cathedral there. After some free time and lunch, we drove back to Paris. In Paris we were able to tour the old neighbourhood called Montmartre. We drive by the Moulin Rouge, then walked up to the top of the hill to see Sacre-Coeur. We also found the artist’s street where a few of us got our portraits drawn! After supper, we went to the very top of Montparnasse Tower (the 59th floor!) to take some panoramic pictures of Paris. While we were there, the 9:00pm light show on the Eiffel Tower also played! This morning we will be taking the TGV train to London, England!

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

Brittany Day

Mont St. Michel

Mont St. Michel

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Well, today was the first day that the weather didn’t quite cooperate with us! This morning we left our hotel in Dinan to drive to the Mont-St-Michel. It was raining on the way and continued to rain during our visit there (our umbrellas and jackets proved to be very useful!). We climbed up to the top of the abbey and then toured our way through and down. Then we had a bit of free time to have lunch (some tried the famous omelettes here) and did some souvenir shopping. After we left Mont-St-Michel, we drove to St. Malo. It was STILL raining but tried to stay dry through our tour of the walled part of the city with our umbrellas again. We visited Jaques Cartier’s tomb in St Vincent’s Cathedral in St. Malo and then we did a bit of shopping but most of us found a cafe and had hot chocolate with crepes. We are now back at our hotel in Dinan (and it is still raining!) where we have just finished supper and will call it a night soon before leaving for Chartres first thing in the morning.

Normandy – Day 3

Canadian Cemetery near Juno Beach

Canadian Cemetery near Juno Beach

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc

Good morning everyone! Our WiFi was intermittent last night so I decided to wait until this morning to update my blog. We left our hotel in Caen yesterday with our luggage and started our War Tour. We started with a tour of the Caen War Memorial. It highlights (and explains) all of the wars Europe has been involved in and houses some old artifacts. From there, we proceeded to the Canadian cemetery. It is located just a few miles from Juno Beach where the Canadian Army landed to help do their part to free France from Hitler’s Army on June 6, 1944. We just happen to be travelling with a chaperone from another group who was born two days before D-Day – she explained that her family had to hide in a bomb shelter in the middle of a field 4km south of Omaha Beach (where the U.S. Army landed) – incredible! From the cemetery, we went to a grocery store to buy our lunch and then had a “picnic” lunch inside the Juno Memorial Centre – we were supposed to eat outside but it rained a bit on our way to the memorial so everything was wet. After Juno Beach, we drove to Pointe du Hoc where the American Army held their air raid on Hitler’s Army to be sure that the land soldiers could scale the cliffs and help remove the Germans. The craters from the bombs are still there as are remnants of the bunkers built by the Nazi German Army. After touring Pointe du Hoc, we drove to Dinan where our new hotel is located and where we will stay one more night.

Rouen Picture

Lois was able to email me a picture of Rouen from yesterday’s tour since I forgot to take pictures with my phone. Just a reminder as well that if you’d like to view ALL of my posts

Rouen old clock

Rouen old clock

from this trip, you can simply click on the blue France 2014 button under one post and you’ll be linked to all of them!

Normandy – Day 2

Êtretat

Êtretat

We had a wonderful day today touring some of the gorgeous towns in Upper Normandy today. Our day started with a drive to Etretat to see the amazing cliffs! We all had a good workout hiking to the top to take some pictures before walking along the rocky beach. We then continued on to Honfleur (birth place of Samuel de Champlain – founder of Quebec City). In this port town, we had lunch and then we had some free time to tour around and buy some souvenirs. We then drove on to Deauville where we were able to walk along one of the biggest sand beaches we’d ever seen! Now we are now back at the hotel packing our bags so we can get some sleep before heading off on the war part of our tour tomorrow morning. Luckily, today I remembered to take pictures with my phone to have some pictures to attach to this post!

Twister

Twister

This morning after breakfast we left Paris and headed out to the Normandy Region. When we arrived in Rouen, Easter Sunday mass was just beginning in the old cathedral so some of us chose to attend it. Following that, we had some free time in Rouen (where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake) so we had lunch at an outdoor cafe and then toured around. Afterwards, we took the bus to the cheese factory where we took a self-guided tour and we were able to sample some local, non-pasteurized cheeses. They were very strong! We came to the new hotel in Caen after supper where we are now enjoying some VERY competitive games of Twister! Since most of Caen was destroyed during world war 1, the hotel we’re in is much newer than the last one and has a nice unheated, outdoor pool – a few of our students took a nice polar dip as its been a bit cooler and rainy today!