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Travel Pictures - FRANCE & ANDORRA - 1998

All images Ron Miller

          I traveled across France from north to south, making my way initially by
     hitchhiking and then, by necessity, train (this was because even after the French
     drivers
  pulled over to offer me a lift, I couldn't communicate where I wanted to go!).
     The very first Frenchmen I dealt with (a train conductor) was an arrogant $&!?#!
     who seemed to mirror the negative stereotype often attributed to the French people.
     However, every French citizen I dealt with afterward was helpful and welcoming -
     even in Paris. Perhaps the most memorable site for this American was my visit to
     Normandy. Although I have never thought that any structure or piece of land
     should be considered "Holy" or "hallowed", I did have to rethink my beliefs during
     my tour of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Departing France I
     climbed into the Pyrenees and entered the tiny mountain enclave of Andorra where
     I met a special, young family.

Those who ascend the Eiffel Tower will receive an eyeful (of scenery). The tower was constructed in 1889 for the World's Fair that
commemorated the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. When it was first constructed, the arcing mass of steel created
controversy as it was considered an eyesore in addition to being hated. According to Wikipedia, the novelist Guy de Maupassant,
who claimed to hate the tower, supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day because it was the one place in Paris where
the Eiffel could not be seen! Today, it is widely thought of as a striking piece of structural art and has become a global icon -

Paris, France
Vista to the west from the Eiffel Tower with the Palais de Chaillot fronting the La Defense business district -
Paris, France
Another view beyond the Eiffel Tower's shadow and the river Seine. The 165-foot-tall Arc de Triomphe
can be seen rising above the rooftops (left of center) - 
Paris, France
Asian tourists completing their "mission" to obtain a prized photo in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The cathedral, which is the cathedral of Paris, means "Our Lady" in French. This rear view of the
cathedral shows the flying buttresses used to stabilize the tall, thin exterior walls of the chapel -
Paris, France
Close-up photo of the famous flying buttresses (arched exterior supports) of the Notre Dame Cathedral. The buttresses were added after the
initial construction because the thin walls (a popular design at the time) began to move outward due to horizontal forces from the roof load -
Paris, France
What might appear as a lovely golf course on France's Atlantic coast is actually a preserved WWII battlefield. And those large depressions
are not sand bunkers but are actually bomb craters still evident after all these years. This strategic location sits atop 100-foot cliffs overlooking
both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. The Nazis had constructed gun stations here to fire on both beaches in the event of an invasion.
American forces scaled the cliffs on the morning of June 4th, 1944 using ropes, ladders, and grapples while under enemy fire -
Point Du Hoc; Normandy, France
This is the ocean view (minus the 5,000 Allied battleships and landing craft) the Nazi soldiers
would have seen from the gun station on the morning of the Normandy Invasion -
Point Du Hoc; Normandy, France
The huge concrete caissons on the beach and farther out in the sea are remnants of a Mulberry Harbor (temporary/artificial harbor)
created during the Allied invasion of France. The caissons were hauled all the way across the channel from England (at 5 m.p.h.)
which enabled the construction of a fully-functioning harbor in just three days following the D-day invasion -
Arromanches; Normandy, France
The ultimate sacrifice. This cemetery contains the graves of 9,387 American soldiers who died in the fighting during the D-Day invasion and
the horrific fighting that ensued afterward. Of this number there are 33 pairs of brothers buried side by side as well as a father and his son.
Nearby is a memorial for the 1,557 soldiers who lost their lives during the fighting but whose remains could not be identified or found.
These fallen soldiers were not "left" overseas but were in fact buried on foreign soil at the request of the next-of-kin. 
All of the graves face west - toward the United States of America -
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial; Omaha Beach, France
The Bayeux Cathedral, constructed in 1077, was the original home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry. The Bayeux Tapestry is a
20 in. by 230 ft. long embroidered cloth which chronicles the 1066 Norman conquest of England. The Tapestry is annotated
in Latin and provides a unique visual document of medieval arms, apparel, and other objects unlike any other artifact
surviving from this period. Bayeux was one of the first French towns to be liberated during the Battle of Normandy -
Bayeux, France
On the northwest coast of Normandy is the stunning abbey of Mont St. Michel. The monastery rests atop a natural granite outcrop
in the bay of Mont Saint Michel, which has some of the highest tides in France with water levels varying by 45 feet -

Mont St. Michel, France
Gothic architecture flourishes within this Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael. Mont St. Michel was
constructed between the 11th and 16th centuries on the granite islet of Mt. Tombe just off France's northwest coast -
Mont St. Michel, France
Build it and they will come? Fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous had a vision here in 1858 and, within a year, thousands of pilgrims
were visiting Lourdes. Today, Lourdes receives 5,000,000 visitors annually and, within France, only Paris has more hotel rooms -
Lourdes, France
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, on the banks of the river Gave de Pau, is built directly over the grotto in which the multiple
apparitions were reportedly seen. From the grotto emerges a spring whose water (said to have been uncovered by Bernadette)
is sold to pilgrims. As many as 350,000 of the visitors also partake in the ritual baths -
Lourdes, France
Amid the November fall colors, this lovely cascade tumbles down from the Pyrenees -
near Cautarets, France
This stone hut is beautifully situated within the French ... Pyrenees! Perhaps as beautiful as the Alps, the Pyrenees form a natural
border between France and Spain in addition to separating the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of mainland Europe.
The Pyrenees contain several peaks over 11,000 feet -
near Lac de Gaube, France
Ignacio and Raphael, two Spaniards living in Andorra, gave me a lift across the 7,900 foot Pas de La Casa which forms the border
between France and their adopted country. The lofty mountain pass is home to a world-class ski resort of the same name -
Pas de La Casa, Andorra 
Andorra is a tiny, land-locked principality on the common border of France and Spain in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains.
Because of its natural beauty and duty-free shopping, tourism provides 80% of Andorra's annual GDP -
Andorra la Vella, Andorra
During my travels, the greatest impact upon me came from those generous souls who invited me into their homes. This wonderful family of
three brothers and two wives (and their television-watching dog) may have been the most special of all, as they practically adopted me into
their close-knit family. Not only did they ask for nothing but, in addition, they would not accept anything in return for their hospitality -
Andorra la Vella, Andorra

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All images Ron Miller
For authorized use of these photos, please contact Ron Miller at TheHappyCannibal@gmail.com