We sailed up the Caen Canal this morning, gliding past the Pegasus Bridge, which was the location of major military action during D Day. The original bridge, built in 1934, was replaced with a new model in the 1990s. The weather was picture perfect, the sun shining brightly down on us as we spent the morning exploring the Orne Estuary. Perhaps because of the bright sun and dry weather, we didn’t see many of the 400 species of birds that have been recorded here. But it was nice to have the opportunity to stretch our legs a bit.
After a quick lunch, we split up into three groups. One headed to take a closer look at the Pegasus Bridge and to explore the fascinating Caen Memorial Museum, which documents some of the World War II events that took place there. Another group went to see the Bayeux Tapestry (technically an embroidered cloth, not a tapestry), which lays out in stunning detail the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Created just a few years after the battle occurred, this magnificent piece of art stretches over 230 feet and is a unique and unequaled historical artifact.
I was assigned the tough duty of joining a small group of guests on a visit to the picturesque Pays d’Auge. Our journey took us across rolling countryside dotted by ancient farmhouses. We stopped for a stroll through the perfectly preserved town of Beuvron-an-Auge, whose 15th century timbered buildings looked like something out of a movie set in the Middle Ages.
We then headed to the renowned Christian Drouin distillery, producer of some of the world’s finest calvados, an apple brandy for which this region is famous. After learning about the process of making calvados, we were given a tour of the room where the still is housed and a storeroom filled with giant barrels of aging liquor. Of course, by then we needed some refreshment. Luckily, a tasting followed, which included samples of sweet nonalcoholic apple juice, sparkling cider, a VSOP calvados aged five years and, finally, a few sips of the 18-year-old premium blend. The drinks were accompanied by a few varieties of local raw milk cheeses. After this, I was far from famished by the time dinner was served back on the ship, but somehow, I managed to find the room!