Notes from the Cape Posts

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The Sainte-Chapelle is tucked right next door to the Conciergerie on Île de la Cité. It has magnificent stained glass windows, through which the light pours. It was built in the 13th century, and is reputed to have once the Crown of Thorn. The crown (whether it is real or not) was presented to Louis IX in the 12’th century, is now housed just around the corner in Notre Damme (it was saved in the fire).

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The Conciergerie in Paris was a medieval palace, a court and then a prison. Of particular interest it is where Marie-Antoinette was both tried and imprisoned during the French Revolution. She was executed, and her former cell is now a chapel.

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The vaulted halls of the palace

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Jailer’s stark cell

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I love this decorative street poles in Paris, This one was crossing the river by Île de la Cité.

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In the middle of Paris there is a massive park (12th arr). I took this photo of a huge boulder in the middle of it. It seems strange to see nature in the middle of the city. The park is perfect for a run – you can get a good distance covered in the park. But beware, portions of it are used by nudist, as I accidentally discovered.

If you are in Paris and want a break from the city, take a visit to the park.

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The Longues-sur-Mer battery are some of the many guns forming the Atlantic Wall from World War 2. The guns are 5inch Naval guns repurposed as coastal defence, and the roof and walls are over 2m thick. This particular battery had three guns, all of which are still in place (needless to say none of them work).

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The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 people, most of who died during the D-Day landings, as well as various memorials to 1557 people missing in action. It’s a somber and reflective place, somewhere you need to pause and think.

This year will be 80 years since the D-Day landing.

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Where do you start with somebody like General Gavin? He did som much, known as the “Jumping General” due to his habit of jumping with his paratroopers, in particular he jumped with the 82nd Airborne Division on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), a division he commanded just 2 months later. In particular, they secured the area around Sainte-Mère-Église near Utah Beach.

He then went on to serve at Market Garden and Battle of the Bulge. He bio is fascinating, and is worth reading.

This photo is taking at the D-Day landing site, just outside Sainte-Mère-Église.

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A shot of one of the lovely canals in Bayeux.

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The Memorial to the reporters in Bayeux honours journalists that have died in connection with their work. It starts in the 1940, and is (alas) updated every year. Press freedom is fundamental to free society and accountability of those in authority.

Freedom comes at a price, and we should honours those that died reporting on it.

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Visiting Louis Braille’s final resting place was very special for me. Of course with a blind wife this is because Braille features in my life. At one stage all our CD’s had Braille labels (of course now we hardly use CD’s at all). It is astonishing to think that this man developed a system to allow millions of people to read books again. He in interred at the Pantheon in Paris, which in its own right is a lovely place to visit.

Its also a little ironic that in many areas Braille isn’t nearly as useful as it used to be, especially with modern phones, ebooks, book readers and apps etc. It’s also lovely to see how these tools make it even easier for a blind person to lead a normal life. Lets hope the progress continues.

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