In October of 2001, Lara and I visited Paris, with a side trip to the Normandy beaches. It was strange traveling so soon after the September 11th attacks, but all in all the trip went fine. The most uncomfortable moment was when we popped out of the metro near the U.S. embassy and saw it was surrounded by police. It turns out, that was the day the U.S. started bombing Afghanistan, and so it was just a security precaution. Still, it had us nervous.
The only other wrinkle in the trip was that there was a series of strikes (see the photo below from the Notre Dame towers) going on. Apparently, the French were upset that there were too many people who had to work more than the minimum 35-hours for a full-time job. It’s definitely a different culture, but I will say that all of the rumors about the rude Parisans seemed absolutely blown out of proportion. Everyone we met was cordial and helpful. If anything, the Amerian tourists were the ones being rude.
It is absolutely awe inspiring wandering around the sights in Normandy. When you see the scale of the battlefield, you’re left with a profound sense of disbelief. The absolutely devastated landscape around Pointe du Hoc is a great indication of amount of ordinance dropped during the attack. It’s incredible to see an 8′ concrete bunker torn to bits. It’s quite an experience to walk around the U.S. cemetary. I think that is a sight every American should visit.