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Posts from the ‘France’ Category

4 Places to Discover World War I History

This year, Veterans Day is particularly poignant as we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of World War I.  While many of us recognize the startling images of World War II, the Great War from 1914-1918 remains a little more distant.  To gain some new understanding on this centenary, here are four of the best destinations for discovering World War I history.

World War I, High Wood cemetery, France

A poppy among the British and French graves from the Battle of the Somme at the High Wood Cemetery, France (Photo)

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D-Day 70 Years Later – The Omaha Beach Memorial

My first impression of Omaha Beach in Normandy was of summer fun.  Alongside the massive stretch of sand, there was a boardwalk dotted with summer beach rentals, ice cream stands and the occasional creperie.  The laughter of a visiting group of British school children added to the ambiance of carefree days.  But anyone who has studied the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944 knows that Omaha was the bloodiest of battlefields of D-Day with some units in the first wave suffering up to a 92% casualty rate.  How do we memorialize the 4,000 who died in a few hours?  Today a bold, modern memorial stands out along the relaxing beach and marks the critical military objective that the American soldiers sacrificed so dearly to achieve.

Omaha Beach Memorial

Omaha Beach Memorial

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The Bayeux Tapestry: Storytelling in Fabric

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are focusing on Art Experiences.  Check out all the inspiring and fantastic stories below!

Norman Horseman, Bayeux Tapestry

Norman horsemen riding into Battle from the Bayeux Tapestry

I’ve joked before about my “art pilgrimages” but I truly think some works need to be seen in person.  There are details that can not be conveyed in photographs, and sometimes the scope and effect of the piece can only be appreciated in front of the artwork.  I’ve experienced this sense of presence most intensely with the 12th century Bayeux Tapestry. Essentially a 230 foot long storyboard of exquisite embroidery, this object retells the the Battle of Hastings with drama, charm, and emotion.  Without even realizing it, I spent 4 hours with the Bayeux Tapestry and loved it!

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The Modernist Church of St. Joan of Arc in Rouen

Rouen, France has a beautiful medieval core with wood and plaster buildings slumped and crooked from centuries of settling.  There are several beautiful medieval churches led of course by the grand Gothic Cathedral.  But when it came time to commemorate Rouen’s most famous Saint, Joan of Arc, the city erected a thoroughly modern church – L’église sainte Jeanne d’Arc.

L’église sainte Jeanne d’Arc

These oval-shaped, fragmented glass white windows circle the altar at the Church of St. Joan of Arc.

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Inside Rouen Cathedral

A list of the greatest Gothic Cathedrals in the World is going to be dominated by the French greats: Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Chartres, Amiens, Riems and Rouen.  Since cathedrals, with their cavernous interior space and organic ribbing, are places to be explored and experienced, I always make time for a long visit!  Rouen Cathedral in Normandy is a spectacular example of the High Gothic (mostly) style and well worth gazing at and wandering through.

Main aisle of the Rouen Cathedral.

Main aisle of the Rouen Cathedral.

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