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To Paris via London – Part 2 – Paris – Mont Saint-Michel – Omaha – Étretat – Rouen

Paris is approaching fast, as I understood from a fellow traveller, the train had stopped for 20 minutes on the way because of electricity problems and we arrived in Paris with a small time delay, which means nothing to us because today is a free day so we don’t have to rush anywhere.

The train station is big (Gare Du Nord), but everything is clear. A look on the phones to see where our hotel and the metro are. Mini plan of what to do a couple of hours before being able to arrive at the hotel. Getting to know the twists and turns of the underground, the experience of London Underground is helpful, as it is clear in the first few minutes how things work here. The downside of Paris Metro is that the subway signs on the streets are hard to see. The plus side, there is internet access, which can be useful on longer rides. The daily plan is simple. The Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe on the way to the hotel, where we still plan to return. There are a lot of people.

– The first thing I see in Paris is the big antenna or the Eiffel tower

– The Arc de Triomphe on the way to the hotel

We take the metro again to get to the hotel. Another difference with London Underground. It lacks so-called circle line metro, which means a slightly longer ride between stations to reach your destination. We reach the hotel, where we are only let in after a certain time. We use the time to have a coffee and something to eat at a local café. When we finally get to our hotel room, tiredness takes over and we slept the whole evening, which is good, because the next day will be a long one.

– Early morning and foggy view from the hotel window, looks like a hot day

As expected, the day started early. We have to get up around 5am. No need to rush. We can slowly pack up and go to the rental car point where we have booked a car for two days. We use the rental car company Avis (which is actually the same as Budget). The first downside of renting a car is that we have to wait almost an hour when we arrive at the rental point because the card terminal doesn’t work and they can’t charge the deposit. The deposit is the second downside, because the booking said that the deposit would be 110 euro, but in reality it was 300. There is a third downside. When we go to the first attraction, an extra 90 euros is charged from my card, without any explanation of what it is for. The details will be clarified later, because the first attraction is here, after almost five hours of driving from Paris (we take small coffee breaks on ride). Time to see Mont Saint-Michel. A monastery on a cliff surrounded by water. The water has receded during this visit, but the view is still spectacular. At the base level of the monastery there are many souvenir shops and cafés. The highest point of interest is the monastery itself, which has a paid entrance. The whole hillside and the surrounding area can be viewed without restrictions. I probably can’t put in pictures the magic of the view, but it’s worth coming here! It takes about three hours to walk and see everything.

– As we approach the monastery, we stop at a roadside market selling local cider. The view from a distance is tempting.
– The monastery looks smaller in the picture, but in person, it was more impressive. In the distance, you can see people disappearing into the background of the large building.
– View of the driveway from the monastery
– The view from the top of the monastery to the bridge, as you can guess, the whole area tends to flood with water, then the view is more spectacular
– Mini garden next to the monastery (sea side)

– Leaving Mont Saint-Michel to move on…

We can move on. Next stop, Omaha Beach, famous for World War II and the so-called D-Day, when Americans managed to conquer the coast and defeat Germans. A tough battle with many dead. The beach has a monument and an art object commemorating this event. In addition, there is a museum, which is already closed at the time of our visit, open daily until 19:00, we are on the beach around 20:00. This historically significant battle is used a lot in video games, and practically any video game player would recognise the name of this battle. A quick look around and we can plan where to stay for the night, as returning to Paris today is not wise in terms of time use and the next day’s plans.

– Next to the beach there is a hotel, a café and parking
– Wide Omaha Beach with mountainous terrain
– Monument to the fallen in the battles

– Tank at the museum. There are also other wartime objects near the museum.

We decide to go closer to the next day’s plans, namely La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur (close to the Normandy bridge on the map, which we want to see the next day). And we look for the first hostel to stay in. The choice falls successfully on a B&B. The hostel is self-catering, and very simple to use. Parking nearby.

Before jumping into the next day’s adventures, I have to mention the road from Omaha Beach to the hotel. The drive is happened in the dark and the surprising thing is that the road is very winding, unlit and the speed limit is mostly 70 km/h. I felt like a real racing driver because the sensations are extreme and the speed is kept appropriate. It was also interesting that some locals drove even faster, even though it is night and visibility is poor, but during the day everyone kept to the speed limit. It was indeed a long day and it ends around 1:00 am. Time to relax as there is another car day ahead, which is not supposed to be as long as this one.

The day starts calmly, beginning with a few shots at the Normandy bridge. An impressive and huge bridge, costing just under €412 million when compared to Latvia’s golden bridge. This bridge is truly magnificent. In the distance, cars look like ants.

– The base of Normandy bridge, the last bridge before the river Seine flows into the sea
– You can guess how big it is in reality by the ratio of the size of the cars to the size of the bridge

After visiting the bridge, we continue to the town of Le Havre and its harbour area on the other side of the river Seine, where we saw magnificent harbour views. In addition, we visit the modern art museum, which is very small. Maybe just over a hundred paintings. We didn’t stay much in the city as it wasn’t on the plan, but we can see the most interesting places as we pass through.

– Art installation in the port of Le Havre
– Another art installation in the port of Le Havre

– Cow paintings at the art museum
– Nubian woman – 1851 (Charles Cordier)

The next stop is Étretat and its nearby area. The first cliffs is not so attractive to tourists, so there are few of them, but the cliffs who ar closer to city are more fulfilled with tourists. The cliffs on the city side are more attractive, and there are more paths for tourists, so that everything can be better walked and seen. A trip to this city could be called an exploration trip, as there are other things to look at nearby and together it would take a whole day in the area. The view of the sea lingers in the mind, because you don’t see sights like that every day. There are many stories to be told about the sights seen, but it is time to move on.

– Lighthouse (Phare d’Antifer) near Étretat, on the way from Le Havre
– Next to the lighthouse are bunkers used during the war, this is the view of the sea from inside the bunker
– Near the lighthouse, towards Étretat, you will find the following stairs (Plage du Fourquet) leading down directly to the beach

– Further we take the car to Étretat, and go to the beach again. In the picture you can see the parking place and the walking route (about 2,5 km). Most of the tourists start in the centre of Étretat, but we will get there by walking along the coast.
– When you reach the coast (L’Œil du Panda) you can see how far away the lighthouse is
– The view on the other side is worth admiring, and I want to stay here for a while
– Walking towards Étretat, and looking back, you can see the lighthouse slowly diminishing and disappearing
– Meanwhile, there are more and more stunning views ahead, and you can already see the city approaching
– One last look at the distant lighthouse, as it will no longer be visible around the next bend
– Boats can be seen in the water, entertaining tourists by taking them along the spectacular coastal views
– Here’s the city and the biggest tourist flow, because there are a lot of them, even at the top of the cliff
– In the distance you can see a church (Chapelle des pêcheurs) and a strange monument, but we didn’t go to this place

Rouen is the next city, where we will visit some of the most important historical sites and take a break to eat, because we don’t have time to eat in beautiful nature, we eat with our eyes. In Rouen, the main focus is on the site of the burning of Joan of Arc. According to the pages of history, she was burnt at the age of 19. Today, the city has a small statue and a peculiar looking church built in her honour, which attracts tourists. The city itself still has some beautiful places to see. If you don’t want to meet the big crowds of tourists, after 18:00 in the evening is a good time, when the sun is still high but the people are few.

– Church with a peculiar roof shape
– In the courtyard of the church is a small statue in honour of Joan of Arc
– There are several buildings in Rovena that attract attention with their highly detailed roof and facade decorations. Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings.

The darkness is coming, it’s time to return to Paris, give away the rental car and get some sleep so we can enjoy the art of Paris museums in the next day.

Read more: Part 1 Part 3

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