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As we drive through the pretty farmland of Normandy, with its pleasing apple orchards and pastures dotted with sheep and dairy cows, it’s easy to forget this region’s turbulent past. Normandy’s geography, situated on the stormy Atlantic coast not far from England, put it in the path of repeated war and conflict dating back to the days of William the Conqueror (who was born here). More recently Normandy was the site of the largest naval invasion in history, but more about D-Day in a future post.
Today’s destination is Mont-Saint-Michel and its iconic abbey, perhaps the most photographed in the world. As we leave the expressway we finally see the silhouette of the Mont in the distance. …
If you’re looking for a nice escape from the crowds and chaos of Paris, consider heading to the small city of Chartres for a day or two. Situated 60 miles (96 km) southwest of Paris, just an hour’s train ride from the Montparnasse station with trains running almost every hour, the town is easy to get to. Chartres has its own charm, is not too crowded and is very easy to explore on foot.
Things to see and do in Chartres:
The main site of interest is the great cathedral whose spires dominate the skyline, about a five minute walk from the train station. Chartres’ Cathedral of our Lady is dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, a theme present throughout the …
One of many tragedies of war is that a country’s history and heritage are badly damaged, even destroyed. Many of Europe’s cities were extensively ravaged by bombing and shelling in World Wars I and II, which is especially true of Germany. These injured cities throughout Europe have been rebuilt but their historic charm is largely lost.
The beautiful small city of Heidelberg fortunately was spared the damage of the great wars because it was a university town without a manufacturing base, so it was not attacked. It’s a beautiful city of about 150,000, still with a famous university, that I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice. To gain the view seen in this photo I had to hike a while on the opposite …
My first view of the southwestern Czech town of Český Krumlov (pronounced CHESS-key KRUM loff — from now on I’ll just call it Krumlov, as the locals do) was from Castle hill above the town. Having just spent a week in the wonderful city of Prague, I thought I might have developed some immunity to historic beauty — but I was wrong. The small town of Krumlov is magical!
Separated by a 2 1/2 hour drive, Prague and Krumlov have some things in common. Both are exceptionally well preserved historic sites spared the ravages of bombing in WWII. Like Prague, Krumlov is dominated by a large castle on a nearby hill (which over the centuries was home …