Normandy: 14/08/2015 – 21/08/2015
The 2015 tour was to the Chateau du Molay in Molay-Littry, a small town a few miles inland from the historic landing beaches. This year we decided to travel by coach and ferry and opted for the 4:30am crossing. 54 choir members, 2 younger siblings and 7 adult helpers (Julie-Anne, Jo, Simon, Eve, Nick, Jo and Rachel) accompanied Marion and Chris. We left Romsey shortly after midnight and despite the best endeavours of the late night roadwork closures we arrived in time for the ferry. Our first stop over the next morning was in Honfleur, a picturesque old sea port that was holding a large summer market. Despite the shortage of sleep the choir enjoyed the arts and craft stalls etc and spent its first euros.
Andy, our driver, got us to the Chateau before his driving hours ran out thanks to a small detour to avoid problems on the autoroute and we were greeted by the staff, unpacked and enrolled for some evening outdoor competition/entertainment. Bleary eyed but refreshed by a lovely dinner the enthusiastic teams battled through obscure races and dizzying challenges that left Marion laughing in a heap on the floor.
The next day we relaxed and got to know the grounds and facilities in the chateau before heading out for an evening concert in St Martin’s church in Rhys (a small village twinned with the local Hampshire village). We had a very enthusiastic and appreciative local audience that included the Town Mayor. As in all our concerts Rachel Maxey performed some solo Viola pieces as lovely interludes and to give the choir a rest between sets of songs.
On Monday we set off early for the spa town of Bagnoles de l’Orne which gave the opportunity to master the synchronised choreography of 12 pedalos on the lake before heading to Notre Dame Church in La Ferte Mace where we performed in a joint concert with a local adult French choir. The concert raised nearly 1000 euros that was split between the choirs.
Tuesday took us to Bayeux and a visit to the famous tapestry and some exploring (some even managed to find the McDonalds which always seems to be a highlight). After a swim at the Chateau we returned to give a concert in Bayeux Cathdral in aid of the cathedral funds and then watched the Son et Lumiere show in the cathedral grounds.
The next day we visited the Operation Overlord landing beach at Arromanche, enjoyed some paddling and sampling local food. We then went to the North American Cemetery set above Omaha Beach. In front of the famous “Spirit of Youth” statue we performed a moving 45 minute programme looking out at the rows of white crosses. The guide then explained some of the facts about the soldiers in the cemetery which especially brought home to many of the older members just how young many of the troops had been.
Thursday took us to visit Caen with the Parc Flora de la Colline aux Oisieux and the Norman castle before another shopping and McDonalds opportunity.
We headed home on Friday, enjoying a final site seeing trip in Rouen and final outdoor singing opportunity outside the cathedral. We popped into a hypermarket to buy our picnic for the return ferry but the delays at the port meant we ended up on a later ferry. We arrived back in Romsey just after midnight, tired but we’d had a great tour.