There is simply no way to escape. The visible signs of the past are ever-present in this part of France and a simple trip to the seaside has turned once again into a history lesson.
After driving through the autumn coloured countryside of Normandy for an hour from our current location near Mortain, we passed through Avranches and drove on to Granville. Mark asked me, “Want to take a walk on the beach?” We parked the car and descended down the sharply angled street and I could immediately see that this was not the types of beach we were accustomed to.
Walking down the ramp to the beach at Granville on the Normandy coast of France
Gray stone, jagged boulders, and sand littered with shards and shells lay before us. What a contrast to our familiar Australian or American blonde-sand covered and fairly rock-free beaches.
Rock strewn beach at Granville on the Normandy coast of France
Back in the car, we passed the bustling port full of ships in all sizes, whisked quickly through the ‘new town’, and ascended the road toward the historic ‘old town’ Granville until we had reached the rocky peak. At the edge of the cliff, just outside the stone walls of the old town, we could see a lighthouse.
Lighthouse at Granville on the Normandy coast of France
The wind was so gusty that we had to plant each foot firmly as we walked. But the surprise that we encountered was that all around the lighthouse in an arc along the top of the ridge overlooking the sea were concrete bunkers left over from World War II. That dark bump on the left in the photo above turned out to be one of these relics of the past.
Coastal fortifications from WW II at Granville on the Normandy coast of France
During their active use, they each stored rather a lot of ammunition and had soldiers with a machine gun atop which had been mounted into the concrete. Today they provide an impromptu place to rest or an object for children to scramble over.
Gun emplacements from WW II at Granville on the Normandy coast of France
View from the 'old town' overlook toward the newer part of Granville on the Normandy coast of France
View of the port area and 'new town' Granville on the Normandy coast of France from high atop 'old town'
We plan to go back in a week or two and this time we will walk up and down those narrow streets in the ancient historic section. We were ‘stuck’ in the car on very thin one-way streets with no place to just get out for a few random minutes and take a photos. But there were far too many beautiful angles of light and shadow against stone walls within the old town for me not to visit on another sunny day.
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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