October 15, 2008

Apart from being in Paris, two moments stand out from my recent trip to France. By chance we stumbled on the highway along the Normandy coast where the D-Day invasions took place. Omaha Beach, at Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer, was one of the prime locations for the Allied landings under Churchill and Eisenhower. If it had been in North America, Disney and McDonalds would have set in, Yuppies would have gentrified and over-built the area. Here, a single monument and a statue suffice to commemorate the scarcely imaginable battle that took place there on June 6, 1944. Apart from sand and sea, there is little else than silence stretching along the shore.

Heading back through the Loire Valley we stopped at Illiers-Combray, famous for having served as the setting for parts of Proust’s monumental À LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU. It’s a small, unimposing village, whose church, memorialized in the same book, is much smaller and far less spectacular than Proust’s rendering—not a surprise. Still, the village has an otherworldly charm, especially by twilight, despite its total lack of pretension or even any seeming interest in the tourist trade.

1 comment:

cpmac said...

There are in fact 12 monuments along the 4 miles of Omaha beach.


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