As world travelers and photographers, Henderson Productions joined forces with our friends from Poggio Amorelli B&B to explore culinary France.  Master Chef contestant Angela Perkins contacted chefs in five distinct regions and asked us to design and document the trip.   We knew it would be a journey for our senses: to see, taste, smell and touch France.   Above all else, we aimed to enjoy the adventure.  We are delighted to report those goals were met and more.   Along the way many chefs gave us permission to include their recipes to help you recreate some of our experiences.  We invite you to appreciate the bounty of their gifts.   Bon Appetit et Bon Voyage

Here Rests a Comrade in Arms at the American Cemetery Coleville- Sur-Mer

The Paratrooper stained glass window in St Mere Eglise

The next morning, we hooked up our audio guided tour of Normandy, sorted out the directions to the beginning of the tour and set off for multiple locations in the region.    The first stop was the German Cemetery on the way to St Mere Eglise for a short visit then into the square of the famous paratrooper’s accidental landing zone.   We were particularly sorry to see the town has become so touristy including tearing down multiple buildings on one side of the square to make room for parking lots and destroying the market square in the process.

At the German Cemetery near St. Mere Eglise

We walked around, listened to our audio guide and caught a super lunch at the least touristy looking café in sight.   Café Bistro in St Mere Eglise is highly recommended for their tartiffe – scalloped potatoes with cheese and ham – as well as multiple combinations of quiche which look like pizza’s in the window case.

Quiche options in St Mere Eglise

The twisty hedgerow lanes and backroads of Normandy help us appreciate the challenges of both foot and mechanized troops when wandering these fields.    Arriving at Utah Beach we’re able to go down onto the sand to see the view of the pillboxes and fortifications from water level.   The French beach had a moving tribute to De Gaulle looking dapper in his uniform and multiple flags appreciating all those who served.   As Utah is sparsely built up, it was possible to see the true landscape.   That wasn’t as evident at Omaha Beach.

Normandy Hedgerows highlight the challenges once the beaches were breeched

Omaha Beach, or more accurately Colleville-Sur-Mer, was a holiday beach long before the invasion and has reverted.   It’s sort of strange to see those chalk cliffs with holiday McMansions hosting full walls of windows looking out to the ghost armada.   Even in the breezy early spring there were family picnics on the beach below the flags of our fathers waving in the breeze.    Not to say it was disrespectful but we found it unsettling to witness joy and gaiety and ice cream stands on the ground were so many had fallen.

Pillboxes from Utah Beach

But what should they do?   Never use the beach?   Block off a small portion?   Which portion?   How would one choose?   The whole stretch of Norman beaches was covered with blood and defenses.  We do the same in our own backyard in Civil War battlefields with a mall here and an auto dealer there.  Should we never use the land?   Should we tear down the homes with expansive views of the Sunken Road or Omaha Beach?    My conclusion is to honor the souls of those who sacrificed by continuing to live.    It is the reason they fought.

Paragliding over Omaha Beach shows the height of the cliffs

We travelled up the lane to the top of the cliffs and spent a couple hours at the American Cemetery.    What a moving location.   We went our separate directions for a bit and I wandered out into the headstones saying their names.   Ultimately, I found at least one from every state except Hawaii and Alaska and, oddly, Arizona.    Say their names.   It’s important to keep their names alive.