Alan, Jonna, Brenda and Harvey's France trip

For our 2013 vacation Jonna and Alan joined Alan's parents, Brenda and Harvey, for a trip to France. We split the trip into two parts: For the first week, Jonna and Brenda "did" Paris while Alan and Harvey did a worldwind World War II tour. Afterwards, we all met up for a week cruising the Canal de L'Est in the Vosges region. We all thoroughly enjoyed spending time together on such a memorable trip.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the trip (each photo is a thumbnail linked to a higher quality picture.):

1) The first morning after our arrival Harvey and Alan headed out to the Gar Saint Lazare train station to head west to Normandy. You can see a little of the granduer of the massive Parisian train stations in photo.

2) The first stop on the Fleming WWII excursion was the Caen Memorial Centre For History and Peace. We spent the entire day going first through the exhibit devoted to the buildup to the start of the war and then through a second exhibit focused on D-Day. Both were fantastic: informative but also very engaging with a huge collection of items on display.

3) After our exhaustive, and exhausting, day at the museum Harvey and Alan hopped a train to nearby Bayeux where they had a hotel reserved. Despite our arriving just as the sun was setting they still had time for a quick walk around the magnificent Bayeux Cathedral...

4) ...and along the quiet canal that splits the picturesque town.

5) Picnic in Paris: Meanwhile, after Brenda and Jonna went on a fascinating guided tour of the Market d'Aligre, their guide and small group had a picnic in the Jardin de Reuilly (one of the few parks where one can sit on the grass). They feasted on bread, pate, cured ham, tapenade, cheese, and butter accompanied by wine and juice. The perfect way to begin a week in Paris.

6) Day 2 found Alan and Harvey doing a guided tour of the D-Day beaches in Normandy with Andy Sutherland of D-Day Tours Normandy. We started, as did the invasion, with a visit to Sainte Mere-Eglise. After a walk through the square they peeked inside the famous church to see stained glass window, replaced after the war, which depicts the American paratroopers decending onto the city during D-Day. .

7) The next stop on the tour was at nearby Utah beach along with a short visit to the Musee Du Debarquement located there. What a scenic and peaceful place this is now...just as it should be.

8) Even lunch was WWII themed as tour guide Andy is part owner of a small museum in St. Marie Du Mont. While enjoying sandwiches, we were able to view the items in the museum including some original murals which were painted on the walls when this building was a German headquarters.

9) The first stop after lunch was at Brecourt Manor which was the site of a famous battle on the morning of D-Day. There Andy, along with his friend Boy, walked us through the details of the battle as well as showing us this memorial to the 101st Airborne Division.

10) The next stop for the day was to see the fortifications perched high atop Pointe du Hoc. Fortress Europe turned out not to be the impenetrable defenses the Nazis intended but seeing these impressive bunkers above Omaha Beach show just how imposing the armaments were that the D-Day assault faced.

11) An artsy shot, looking towards Omaha Beach, from inside the fire control bunker way out on the very edge of the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc.

12) Andy proved to be a extremely knowledgeable guide but also turned out to be very entertaining. Here he maps out the German defenses on Omaha Beach while keeping the Yanks at bay with machine gun shots from his pointer stick.

13) The vast expanse of Omaha Beach is now lined with little French beach cottages and, at least on the day the Fleming pair visited, populated with kite flying children. It is, nonetheless, a sober place to visit when reflecting on all the violence and death that took place here in June, 1944.

14) It was a trip of a lifetime for both father and son!

15) The final stop of our D-Day tour was a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. If visiting Utah and Omaha beaches was somber, walking the vast expanse of the cemetery was downright emotional.

16) The Seine - an elegant river running through an elegant city. Jonna and Brenda had a busy day in Paris which they capped off with a boat trip through the heart of Paris.

17) The boys were back in Paris for a night then off to eastern France early the next morning at 200mph aboard a TGV bullet train.

18) The first stop for this eastern leg of the Fleming WWII excursion was to the fortress of Feste Wagner in the city of Metz. Alan's Grandfather (Harvey's Father-In-Law) joined the US 5th Infantry Division as a replacement for men lost during the Battle of Metz. Seeing what the 5th had been up against in the Fall of 1944 seemed like a good place to start in following the footsteps of Cecil Anchors.

19) This is an outlying gun emplacement for just one of the seven fortifications that made up the Feste Wagner complex. What was once a terrifying hillside bristling with guns and cleared to provide clear fields of fire is now a lush, peaceful forest.

20) Our destination that night was in the small village of Ludweiler, Germany. Surprisingly, Alan the vegetarian, had the best meal of the entire trip here. We were in this region while white asparagus was in season and Chef Peters turned it into two incredible dishes for Harvey and Alan.

21) For anyone in the area, the Warndtperle Restaurant and Hotel is well worth a visit! For us, Ludweiler represented where Alan's Grandfather Cecil first joined his unit on Dec 15, 1944: Company B, 1st Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, XX Corps, Third Army.

22) Obligatory photo at the Eiffel Tower: Brenda, for a rare moment, is willing to pose for a photo at this icon of Paris.

23) One important stop, while following Cecil Anchor's path, was in Michelshof, Luxembourg. It was here that Cecil would have first seen major action when his unit deployed on Dec 23 and advanced down this road in an effort to push invading German forces back to Sauer River.

24) Another stop, a few miles away, were these beautiful woods near Fromberg, Luxembourg. Cecil would have gone cross-country to arrive here while the Flemings just flogged our rented Opel around the curvy roads through the nearby hills. Both Harvey and Alan were amazed by the stunning scenery in northern Luxembourg.

25) While looking for lunch in the nearby town of Echternach, right on the Sauer River, they stumbled across this monument to the 5th Infantry Division. Cecil loved the Christmas holiday for his entire life so Echternach was a special place to visit as this was where he spent Christmas day back in 1944.

26) We continued down the river and ran across another monument, this time on a bridge over the Sauer at Bettendorf. This one was not only to the 5th but specifically to the 10th Infantry Regiment. It was great to see how many small towns in both Luxembourg and Belgium had little memorial parks commemorating the US and British forces who liberated this region.

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Alan Fleming