Monthly Archives: June 2012

Making a new friend in Menton, France

Making a new friend in Menton, France

Tomorrow morning, I will say goodbye to Nice, and the French Riviera, or as we, French people, like to call it, la Côte d’Azur. It has been quite the vacation. Tonight, as I am packing my bag, enjoying one last evening in my cozy apartment in the heart of le Vieux Nice (Nice’s old town,) I can hear the street below, restaurant patrons laughing, the clinkering of wine glasses, a band playing. I know I will remember the sounds of la Belle Nice for months to come, counting the days until I can return. 

Blogging has been good to me. I have met in person another fellow blogger here, and made a new friend in the process. Her name is Jilly, from Menton Daily Photo. She lives near Menton, a short train ride away from Nice. Jilly is English, but she has traveled the world, and eventually settled down near the last French town before the Italian border. Today, as a special treat before I head back to Paris where Junior and my family are waiting, she showed me around Menton, and the quaint perched village of Gorbio. After so many years here, and thanks to her popular blogs, she knows everyone in town and introduced me to all her friends.
Jilly: “Voilà Véronique. Un French blogger de Seattle, Etats-Unis.
Locals: “…” [insert puzzled look.]
Véronique: “Enchantée. Je suis Française. Je vis aux Etats-Unis. Je visite la région avec mon guide anglais, Jilly.” (Nice to meet you. I am French. I live in the United States. I am visiting the area with my English guide, Jilly.)
Locals (thinking: “It’s a strange world we live in”): “Ahhhh… Bonjour… Bienvenue.” 
We had a long, and interesting day together, filled with lively conversation, laughs, many photos (we are both bloggers after all,) and enough breathtaking sights to turn this French-Americanized tourist into a Riviera-convert for life. I want to do our time together justice, but it is late, and I am catching an early TGV back to Paris. Menton and Gorbio deserve a real story. I will get to it after I return to the Pacific Northwest. In the meantime, here are some snapshots of my fun day with Jilly.
First, there was a 30mn train ride (I will never praise the fantastic local public transportation system enough,) and I arrived in Menton where Jilly picked me up outside the train station.
We toured peaceful Menton in the morning before the weather got too hot. I saw enough to make me feel like coming back and exploring further during my next visit. I loved the beach, and the quaint old town, with its steep streets, cathedral, cemetery, and amazing views of the coast. Along the way, Jilly stopped to snap shots of local dogs. If you do not know her other blog, Riviera Dogs, I encourage you to visit it. She has an uncanny ability to capture our four-legged friends. 
Jilly, hard at work

Mid-day, Jilly and I drove up a winding road and arrived at her home, a.k.a. “Pension Milou,” a boarding place for [lucky] local pooches. While Jilly called a client in Australia to check on the whereabouts of a three-year old Lab that had been shipped back home to be reunited with her owners, I played with some of her furry guests.  

The terrace chez Pension Milou
This little one captured my heart. So long, Roxy!
Life is good at Pension Milou, eh, “Beau?”
The pièce de résistance was a visit to Gorbio, a perched village just a few minutes outside of Menton. Jilly loves it there, and her enthusiasm is contagious. A special place, certainement, and not a tourist in sight. Incroyable. The local restaurant served us the best meal I had on this trip. The owner and his family took turns greeting Jilly, who is a bit of a local celebrity thanks to her daily chronicles of life in Menton and Gorbio.  
Ah, the smell of the jasmine laden trellis!
There is no good meal in the South without Rosé wine…
Later on, we walked off our delicious lunch (and a pleasant rosé-induced buzz) – slowly, because of the scorching heat – and explored the streets of Gorbio. There were several art exhibits in ancient buildings, breathtaking views of the mountains and the coast, a plethora of old houses and cobbled streets. Gorbio pulls off pittoresque et authentique like few villages on the touristy French Riviera coast.
Les chats de Gorbio
 When it was time to leave, Jilly and I hugged, promising to keep in touch, and I know we will. A bientôt, Jilly. Stay cool. Bonne chance pour le vernissage!
Back in Nice, there was just enough time for one last evening walk around favorite streets in the Old Town. Ma chère Nice, you and I know... Ce n’est qu’un au revoir.  
A bientôt.
All photos by French Girl in Seattle
Please do not use without permission
After I left, Jilly chronicled my visit the way she does best… with a couple of photos shared on her blog. Merci Jilly! 

23 Responses to Making a new friend in Menton, France

  1. Merci de ces belles photos de Nice qui apportent du soleil chez moi ou les temperatures ce matin sont a 9 degres. J’adore ton header tres perso avec l’enseigne du blog de veronique. Amities d’Australie. Marianne

  2. You are too cool, meeting another blogger and having such a great time. You are a role model for all women travelers! I certainly would like to return to the south of France again. Continue having a fab time!

  3. Je suis contente qu’il y ait un train pour aller à Menton car nous n’aurons pas de voiture quand nous irons à Nice cet automne. Ma cousine a été à la fête des citrons à Menton et cela m’a donné envie de connaître cette ville. J’ai dit à mon mari que nous irons à Menton, à Antibes et à Vintimille en train, mais je n’étais pas sûre. Encore de jolies photos Véronique et un très beau voyage.

  4. how fortunate for you v…so happy the days in nice were so nice-but the greatest of all souvenirs are the new friendships gained…. twice blessed you were this trip-looking forward AGAIN to all future stories –

  5. I loved taking this vacation with you. Nice was the first town I landed in when I visited Europe and I loved seeing all th pictures you posted. I follow Jilly’s Monte Carlo blog and Menton blog. Great post and thanks for sharing.

  6. What fun your are having. How fortuitous to have met Gilly and Gorbio looks like a wonderful place. Enjoy the remainder of your stay and thank you sharing your life

    Helen xx

  7. What a pleasure it was to finally meet you and find you as delightful as I knew you would be! Thankyou for the kind and generous words and super photos. So happy you loved Menton and Gorbio as much as I do! Adore your enthusiasm and what a good day we had together putting the world to rights. It was fascinating for me to hear what it’s like to be a French woman in America. Bon voyage and as Malyss said, a l’année prochaine. Big hug. Jilly xxx

  8. What a wonderful holiday you must have . We have been in Nice last Saturday for a couple of hours before going to the airfield and I think it is beautiful. We loved walking around there.It was very hot so sitting on the beach was great.

  9. Found your Blog via Jilly’s Blogs, looking forward to following your adventures. What a fantastic time you had on your vacation to one of my favorite destinations.

  10. umm excuse me Veronique…next time.. take me with you?;) Okay Roxy was too much to handle and you went for the jugular with the best meal ever with Jilly. C’est pas possible!! 😉 Have a terrific weekend. Like you won’t! xx

  11. Bonjour Véronique,
    Aujourd’hui en traduisant le blog de notre amie Jilly, j’ai lu votre nom et je me suis souvenue d’un de vos commentaires où vous parliez de vos grands parents pieds-noirs. J’espère que nous aurons l’occasion de nous rencontrer quand vous reviendrez nous voir à Gorbio.Nous parlerons de l’Algérie.Cordialement

  12. Bonjour Véronique! I discovered your blog through the wonderful Helen Tilston and must say I’m quite mesmerized by what I see here. Being a lover of anything and everything French and having lived in Seattle for a few years, for me, this is absolutely the place to be.

  13. Isn’t it strange how blogging almost makes the world seem smaller? To think you could meet up with a fellow blogger out there and meet new ones…I think that is pretty cool.

    I love your friend’s dog blog. She takes gorgeous photos and finds the most interesting dogs. 🙂

    I also like that photo of the kitty.

    I’m glad you had a wonderful trip back home. And thank you for blogging about it live. I feel as though I’ve been on vacation with you! Hehe.

  14. It can’t be easy to leave France after so many interesting places that you have visited, so many interesting people that you’ve met, and so much delicious food that you have tasted.

    The dogs on your photos are really very special. Although my heart belongs to the ginger cat 🙂

  15. What a great post about your day in Menton and Gorbio, two places I don’t know anything about except for what I have read and seen on Jilly’s blog. Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Gosh what a brilliant time you have had Veronique, it was interesting to see Gorbio through your eyes also, I have loved Jilly’s images for as long as I’ve been blogging. It’s hard to image two countries that could be more different than ours but yet in some very small way quite similar in lifestyle. I have a feeling that you’ll be in for some very ‘hot’ weather when you return home from what I can gather reading my USA blog buddies posts, I’m a little envious, I’m wearing gloves as I type this haha!

  17. O.K., it’s official! I am officially out of superlatives. What can I say? The adorable dogs and cat just did it for me. “Je jette l’éponge.” Jilly sounds delightful. Isn’t it wonderful how brief encounters can add so much to our lives? Sometimes they become special friendships….like Malyss.

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24 Responses to Villa Ephrussi de Rotschild and Cap Ferrat.

  1. v- it just keeps getting better and better…a lovly day spent in the most beautiful of spaces…and i do hope tommorrow’s rendezvous is enjoyable as i am sure it will be…looking forward to the next installment-thanks ,as always ,for all the time and effort- IT REALLY DOES SHOW!!!

  2. J’allais te dire la même chose! :o)Je l’avais photographiée sur mon blog, en expliquant que c’etait là, devant cette villa, que j’allais nager le matin en été..(Voir le 1er Aout 2011 dans les archives)
    Allez, a dem’ !:o)

  3. What a delightful post and I love to hear how economical it is to tour by bus. I would love to have an opportunity to visit Sir David Niven’s home and painted. The Rothchild would be a good second choice.

    I love your reporting.

    Enjoy tomorrow and looking forward to more of the French Girl’s travels

    Helen xx

  4. Veronique you took a picture of it! It’s the pink house with purple bougainvillea. As I said a lovely photo. You show two pics of it. One jutting out into the bay. Starting from the very first photo in this post they are photos 7 and 8. So many people stayed there, Charlie Chaplin, Churchill, I forget now. I did a few posts on it on the Monte Carlo blog. You can’t visit. It’s privately owned, by the way.

  5. Wow, David Niven’s pink house is stunning and in such an amazing spot. Your photos of the gardens at Villa Ephrussi and the ‘Med’ are formidables! I have visited this stretch of coast but next time I shall follow your advice, hop on a bus, visit the inland villages and walk along these peninsula trails. Enjoy meeting your cyber friend!

  6. Veronique, thought you and your readers might like this little history of David Niven’s house:

    ‘Originally called Lo Scoglietto (Little Rock) with its private harbour, this beautiful pink Italianate villa was built in 1880 by Alfred Bounin, the son of an arms supplier to the Sardinian army, himself an olive oil trader from Nice.

    In 1920, the villa was rented by Duchess of Marlborough, Mme Balsan, originally Consuelo Vanderbilt. It was extended in the 1950s and rented by Leopold III, King of the Belgians, one year before his abdication.

    Later Lo Scoglietto was bought by the great Charlie Chaplin, and in 1960 he in turn sold it to the film actor David Niven, who was very much part of Princess Grace’s social scene. Known for his gentlemanly appearance and clipped English accent, Niven had already enjoyed an immensely successful career starring, for example, in the Powell and Pressburger film A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and winning an Oscar for his performance in Separate Tables (1958).’from

  7. Wow, love it ALL, Veronique! This is like bits and pieces of a trip have been planning on my blog (i.e. I buy all info in post for later referral) all put together. The ease of transportation is terrific to know. I also want to go out to the Lerins Islands.

    FABULOUS!! Thank you. And as others say….the dedication and work truly shows and is much appreciated!! Great job!! 🙂

  8. What a magnificent post Veronique! The Villa Ephrussi is breathtaking, and beautiful in pink. I would love to spend a few hours exploring there. The gardens look wondrous. I can’t find enough superlatives to describe them. And yes, you’re right.. i totally get how it feels to long for sunshine. We are just a few hours south of you in Portland, and this soggy weather has got to go! BLAH! It’s almost the 4th of July for goodness’ sake! Have a wonderful rest of your ‘vacances’, Veronique, (how could you not, right?) 🙂 I can’t wait to see more pics!


  9. What a magnificent post Veronique! The Villa Ephrussi is breathtaking, and beautiful in pink. I would love to spend a few hours exploring there. The gardens look wondrous. I can’t find enough superlatives to describe them. And yes, you’re right.. i totally get how it feels to long for sunshine. We are just a few hours south of you in Portland, and this soggy weather has got to go! BLAH! It’s almost the 4th of July for goodness’ sake! Have a wonderful rest of your ‘vacances’, Veronique, (how could you not, right?) 🙂 I can’t wait to see more pics!


  10. Thank you for taking us along. I’ve been to Villa Ephrussi de Rotschild. It is magical! I know you are having a wonderful trip, Veronique. Safe travels! ~ sarah

  11. Hello! I love this post…..we spend every summer in Villefranche Sur Mer so your photos are very familiar to me!! We do the walk along the Promenade Maurice Rouvier to Cap Ferrat all the time, isn’t it beautiful?! I love David Niven’s old home, it’s my favourite!

    And the Villa Rothschild is always so lovely, the views are stunning are as the gardens.

    Enjoy your trip 🙂

  12. What a beautiful post and I have hungrily read and viewed it twice before making a comment. I am stunned by the natural beauty at every turn in every direction. I have marked this post for my future travel use.


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24 Responses to A French Girl on the Riviera. Summer 2012 Travelogue (3)

  1. Ah Veronique, I am so happy for you, I am imagining you in your pied a Terre in the old town and all the adventures you are going to have.
    I can’t wait to read about them.

  2. Veronique, welcome to the south of France! Love all your photos. You’ve captured Nice so beautifully and in just one day. See you in Menton next week. Will send a private message. So look forward to meeting you. A bientot. Jilly x

  3. Have a wonderful time in the south ! It sure is warmer than here in the chilly north. We spent a couple of heavenly days in Toulon before heading back home in the arctic, errr, in the Oise. Looks like you are doing it all in fine style. We are still marveling at the tastes and luscious smells of the things we brought home from the market in Toulon… anchoyades, olives of every description, and so forth. Enjoy, enjoy…

  4. Veronique, love, love, love your photos! I’ve always wanted to go to Nice and the Riviera in general, and with your pictures I can at least have a slice of it! 🙂 Sounds like a tumultuous trip on the TGV, but so worth it once you see the beautiful waters of the Riviera! Enjoy your time there! xo

  5. I have been following your journey with great interest. About 10 years ago I got to visit Nice and Paris and fell in love. Your photos are beautiful! Have a very relaxing and fun time.

  6. Sigh… After reading your blogs of Nice, I really want to visit. We went through Nice to Ville France sur Mer but did not stay in Nice, maybe one day. How lovely, even though the TGV trip was longer than planned. I can just see you walking the streets, taking photos, stopping at cafes for espresso or vin rose, parfait! Continue to enjoy as a true French girl.

  7. Oh my gosh, I’m green with envy. Just kidding. I’m super happy for you! Although, secretly I wish that was me in your place. 😉 Wonderful pictures and commentary. My half sister lives in Aix- en -Provence. My favorite train trip is from Barcelona to Narbonne. Don’t you love staring out at the Med. ? *Dreaming*

  8. I enjoyed every moment of the trip from Café de la Paix and the musicians to the first class ride in the TGV. Now, you have brought us to Nice again. You have such a charming way to show and tell the story, Veronique. Enjoy your time and give big hugs to Jilly and Malyss.


  9. Que le temps continue beau! The extra hours on the train certainly made that 1st class ticket a wise investment. Love those aged buildings with all their character and sense of place.

  10. WONDERFUL post….I am there. And incredibly…the neighborhood you selected in Nice is the precise one I was searching in for places to stay. So I’l have to get the owner’s contact. The TGV looks so great…

  11. i was checking and checking i did not see this until today’s installment and realized it was one larger than it should have been quickly i came and yet again was not disappointed-you described how i feel each time i return to france hello old friend hello-enjoy the beautiful EVERYTHING-the pics are great gonna give le hubby a run for his money…i hope jr enjoys the time with family and you enjoy your alone time we all need that,,,stay well and safe- until later….

  12. What a journey but worth it to have time in the beautiful Nice. I was there several years ago and remember clearly my very expensive coffee on the Promenade des Anglais (but the view and the people watching made it worth it!)So pleased you are finding time to blog so that we can follow along and see your wonderful photos.

  13. Nice is so beautiful! I’ve been there last August. The sunset over the sea is unforgettable like nowhere in the world. Still can hear that amoureux whispering waves to pebbles…
    Thank you Veronique for finding the time to share.

  14. Oh my, Veronique! I have fallen totally in love with Nice through your photos! The shade of blue of the sea is so.. well, what is it? Exquisite? Maybe that’s it. Reminds me of a perfect blue diamond. 🙂 And what is it with the French and their gorgeous windows with the soft colored, lovely shutters? 😀 What’s not to love? I’d love to open those shutters in the morning to a splendid South of France day! Happy sigh. I wish you continued fun and safe travels. Eagerly awaiting your next post!


  15. You will no doubt be shocked to learn that I have never been to Nice, but have always wanted to go. My parents honeymooned there. I have a picture of them wearing topcoats. My Mother was wearing fur. Imagine…wearing fur in Nice, even in March.

    Toulon, also, played a rather large part in our lives. My parents were married there and had a small apartment near the naval base.

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28 Responses to Paris is still Paris… Summer 2012 Travelogue (2)

  1. Lovely! Thanks for the tour. The exhibit sounds fascinating. Whenever I hear the history of this or that chateau originally built for a wife or mistress, I have to wonder what it must feel like to be able to give gifts like that.

  2. Beautiful photos and stories as always, Veronique…I cannot wait to hear of your continued adventures in Paris, a city I love, and your future adventures in Nice, a city I am dying to visit! Glad you are having such a lovely time!

  3. I was in Paris 3 weeks ago, it was wonderful! I would give my right arm to have relatives in Paris to visit! I didn’t notice it so much the first time, but this time I really missed having someone to meet there. Eventually the gorgeous sights get old without a happy face to link them to.

    But, we still had a great time!

    The Carnavalet Museum was closed the day I wanted to visit, it looks very interesting!

    Have a wonderful visit!

  4. Une très jolie promenade en votre compagnie… Des photos magnifiques… et de très jolis mots pour traduire vos pensées…
    Je suis certaine que vous allez trouver le soleil en fin de semaine à Nice…

    Gros bisous

  5. OMG, ma chère Véronique, you have hit some of my favorite spots: I absolutely ADORE Malmaison, and a trip to Paris is never complete for us without a visit to the Carnavalet. I am positively green with envy.

    Keep us up to date!!

  6. It is beautiful seeing Paris through your passionate home grown eyes. There is nothing like a local to know the nooks and crannies of a city.The coffee and desert looks so delicious and that crepe is so beautiful. Now I am hungry and it is past bedtime and the fridge is low in supplies.
    Continued joy as you travel onward to Nice.

    I will be anxiously looking for your next post

    My best

    Helen xx

  7. Happy to hear you made it safely to and are enjoying time with family. It looks beautiful, in spite of the “unpredictable” weather. I was sorry to miss the Atget exhibit when we were there last month, so am glad you got to see it. Safe travels and enjoy your Paris time! XO

  8. Bienvenue pour ton retour en France, Véronique! Peut-être pourrons-nous nous voir à Antibes, si tu veux bien faire une excursion vers cette vieille ville entourée de remparts, 1er port de la Méditerranée, et célèbre pour son musée Picasso!…
    Gros bisous.

  9. I’m so very happy for you to be back in Paris! Sounds like you are embracing the opportunity to the fullest… Enjoy your time, the macarons and the petite promenades!

  10. WOW Veronique! How could you even find the time to blog while being in Paris on vocation surrounded by family and friends? Thank you so much. I’m in the middle of making reservations for the end of July and Atget’s exhibition is already on my list.
    Have a great time in Nice and enjoy to the fullest.

  11. it sounds WONDERFUL so far and i am sure that same feeling of excitement will remain throughout-thank you once again for taking the time to share all this “gloriousness” with us-it is great seeing it through a native’s eye-enjoy looking forward to installment number 3 ….. ENJOY

  12. Que país lindo e encantador. Esses doces que delicia. A melhor coisa da vida é visitar os parentes ficar ao lados das pessoas importantes pra nós. Parabéns pelo Bom gosto. I am teacher.
    Tenha um ótimo dia.
    Anajá Schmitz

  13. Looks like someone is having entirely too much fun !

    Happy travels, it should be warmer in Nice than here in the Paris area… downright chilly today, even for the first day of summer… Thanks for the info on the expo at the Carnavalet. Will you be getting across into Italy from Nice at all ? We had a lovely afternoon in Ventimiglia the other day. And Genoa has all sorts of attractions…

  14. I weep at the sight of these photos. How I miss Paris! Thank you for the opportunity to be in different corners of it at least virtually – even to eat some crepes 🙂

  15. I also worked in Rueil once upon the time, probably well before you! 🙂

    … and I recognised some nice Marais shop windows, before I got the confirmation that you had really been there (Carnavalet, Place des Vosges..)! Hope you also enjoyed some music yesterday! 🙂

  16. Accckkk, I can’t find the chat noir but do recognize the Marais shops as does Peter I see. Maybe that’s because I’ve drug him all over the Marais in search of photos a zillion times. The ribbon shop………know it well. Got fussed at for taking photos there. I never forget that!

  17. It is now official: France is on my top five places to visit. 🙂 I’m falling in love with your homeland through these mesmerizing posts.

    Did I mention there is a crepe shop about 20 minutes from my apartment? I know it’s probably nothing compared to the real deal, but I’m anxious to go try it now. I have never had a crepe before.

    And that second dessert you posted (fraisire?) looks almost too pretty to eat. 🙂

  18. OMG, ma chère, you were in some of my favorite haunts today. Joséphine’s beautiful home is a must-see pilgrimage for me. When I am there I can feel her walking the halls thinking about the man she once dismissed so casually, then loved, then lost. I don’t think he ever really fell out of love with her.

    And the Carnavalet is my husband’s absolutely favorite museum — again, a must-see every time we come to Paris. And the photos of the food….!!!! Maurice Chevalier was right….”Paris sera toujours Paris.”

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Lest we forget: D-Day. June 6, 1944

Lest we forget: D-Day. June 6, 1944

This story was written a few years ago, and I have shared it again on June 6 every year since then. France has not forgotten. courtesy of D-Day. Operation Overlord. Or, to the French le Débarquement. This was admittedly the largest air, land and sea operation undertaken in the history of warfare. On June…

70 Responses to Lest we forget: D-Day. June 6, 1944

  1. This is very moving, but needs to be told and remembered. My mother recently went into a local primary school to speak about her memories of living through the blitz in London and about ein an evacuee. Xxx

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s personal story, Veronique. I too found it very, very moving. It wasn’t that long ago and yet we tend to think of WWII as ancient history. We must never, ever forget.

    • Thank you for stopping by Heather. One thing I miss about living in France is that, as you know, history is everywhere in my homeland. From street names to daily references in the press; in ads and commercials; one is surrounded with it and – I suppose – can’t ignore it. It is so important to know history in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past!

  3. I very much liked this post. I’m an American living in Paris with my French husband, and a few weeks ago I encountered some of those quintessential “Ugly American Tourists” on a cross-town bus, who were complaining about (among other things) their false perception that the French neither remember nor are grateful for America’s aide during WWII. Of course WE know this to be untrue, and your post just shows this so beautifully. Hope you don’t mind that I linked to it in a post I wrote today about the upcoming D-Day anniversary. You can read that post here:
    Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m sure your son got a lot out of his grandmother’s recollections.

    By the way, do you know this blog ( – she’s an American who recently moved back to Seattle after living for a few years in Paris. I think she’s happy to have moved back but she does miss Paris too.

    • It’s wonderful to meet you Lisa. I am glad you found me today. I started “following” your blog, and I know I will enjoy it tremendously. Thank you for mentioning this story in your latest post, too. PS: I do know MJ and started reading her blog while she still lived in Paris. She is very funny!

  4. HI Veronique. This is a very special story and definitely needs to be remembered, It is all true, I can say as we have been there. My husband is the same age as your mother and I am a few years younger. He knows a lot more than me because he was older. He did live in Amsterdam and his father had a business in what they called the Jewish neighborhood. They had a lot of friends there and they all were transported to camps in Germany. They never came back. It must at least have been 30.000 0f them, only in Amsterdam. Some people and families tried to hide like Anne Frank, some made it and some didn’t make it through the war. In that last winter there was no food or anything left. His sister went on an old bike for hours to see if there were any farmers in the country who wanted to give them some food. Terrible memories. All over Europe there must have been lost more than 3 million Jews. Sad story, right?. I was the lucky one in my family as I could stay with an aunt and uncle who had a little place where they grew vegetables and potatoes. My parents and brother were somewhere else and had to eat tulip bulbs and sugarbeets to keep alive. Terrible times but we survived.
    Ok Veronique this was my little story for D Day, hope you don’t mind.
    Have a nice day.

    • Dear Riet. You are telling a moving story of your own and it deserves to be featured more prominently, maybe on your blog this week? So many people have no idea how bad things really got during the war years for civilians all over Europe! No wonder people in our grand-parents’ and even our parents’ generation do not like to waste food. How could they after experiencing such deprivation? I don’t think you ever forget what it feels like to be truly hungry. How spoiled we all are, today. Thank you for stopping by, my friend.

  5. Chris and I visited for the 60th anniversary of D-Day and honestly it was one of the most moving trips we have taken. We took a boat from Portsmouth to Ouistreham filled with veterans in full uniform. It is the trip that I fell in love with Normandy.
    Thanks for sharing all of this- what a great post.

    • Thank you for your comment, Kim. I was in France that year, and I remember a very moving scene at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. Mutti (yes, the same lady!) walked up to a group of American veterans who had just sat down and were waiting for their flights. Some looked really old and frail, but they wore their decorations proudly. She walked up to them, and just shook their hands, one by one, saying: “merci, merci…” No other words were needed, right?

  6. ah v i knew this would be a tearful read and indeed it was…for so many reasons…the trauma of war on everyone, for the loss of our boys ( girls too) lives, no matter the side, for the citizens of the country being terrorized and for the devastation of it all -mind body spirit soul ….i can feel mutti through your translation -i cannot imagine her horror and admire her honestry about the silent giggles shared between her and her sister…children so innocent-yet recalling these feeligs like it was yesterday….i love this post by far for calling to mind these events nand the lessons learned- hopefully NEVER to be repeated….and funny enough in the fall my sister and i are planning our vacation to this area in france-a long overdue visit….as i have never been….A HUGE HEARFELT THANK YOU for allowing us to share in your family”s personal experience-i really am so very touched ton amie g

    • Welcome back, my dear friend, g. I have missed you. I know you have had your share of heartbreak lately. This post was not the most cheerful one, was it? Still, the story had to be told. I am excited for you and your sister about the trip to Normandy. You will love it there. It is truly one of France’s most scenic areas. Of course, it looked very different back then, in war-torn France. Parts of Normandy got literally razed after D-Day. There were so many civilian casualties there. I know you will love your visit and can’t wait to hear about it.

  7. Geeze! War is so devastating. Thanks for sharing this post. Presidents should always look back at history before going into war. The images you shared are amazing. Thanks french girl… a bientot. xo

    • Merci Sandy. I have a silly personal theory according to which presidents should fight among themselves in a contained area when they are even remotely inclined to go to war. No other casualties would be necessary. Isn’t that a brilliant idea? This would definitely help ensure that every presidential candidate runs for the right reasons, don’t you think? 🙂

  8. Dearest Véronique,

    What a precious personal letter to your son from his French Grandmère. That will make him ‘feel’ history a lot better than his classmates that have no living connection from that horrible past. Thank goodness that is over with, even though we’re almost at the verge of losing lots of our FREEDOM again if we’re not paying attention. Bit by bit it is already being taken away from us. Especially the young generation is living inside their own ‘bubble’ and not even gasping the true meaning of FREEDOM and the high price for it. My husband Pieter did write a similar story as your Mom did and I’ve published it on my blog:
    Wishing you a lovely week ahead.


    • Bonjour Mariette. Second message from a Dutch reader today! 🙂 One thing is for sure, my son is being raised with a sound knowledge of world history (that is the European way, after all…) I find that so many people know so little about what has happened in the rest of the world. I am determined he will not be one of them. Thanks to his grand-mere, he got one step closer to understanding what war really means to civilians (children!) who have to live through it.

  9. Veronique, thank you so much for the reminder of this important day. We have so much to be thankful for in our lives today that wouldn’t be possible without the bravery and sacrifice of previous generations. It’s easy to take the peace we enjoy in our lives for granted and forget all the war and violence happening around the world. My prayers are for those who are facing the destruction of war today. Here’s to a future when all are at peace. XO

    • Bonjour Jeanne. That is a noble sentiment. May your prayers be heard. You are right. It is easy to feel content and comfortable while ignoring what is going on in other parts of the world. We are all guilty of it. That’s why it helps to be reminded once in a while about the true meaning of war, as Mutti did for her grandson in her message.

  10. I’ve often wondered if there was any resentment toward the US for not entering the war until after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Had that not taken place would we still have watched from the sidelines? That being said, better late than never.

    • I honestly do not know, but that is certainly a valid question. I would surmise that European populations were too busy trying to survive. I may be wrong. Better late than never indeed. Without D-Day, who knows where we would all be today; or what language we would speak?

  11. What a wonderful experience for your son and his grandmère, a bond between them that he will never forget. Thank you for sharing this private story touching all who read it.

    On my recent trip to Paris, my husband asked about going to Normandy (both of our fathers fought in France/Germany and survived the war). I regret that we had not planned to make a trip to Normandy, but it is on our list.

    I am also touched by Riet’s comments and will email her. Those who lived in Europe through the war suffered in ways we cannot even imagine.

    As the signs all over Paris state: “Pardonnez mais n’oubliez jamais”

    Thank you, Veronique.


    • Bonjour Genie. A very thoughtful message, thank you. Yes, there was much suffering involved, and it still amaze me how well the French and the Germans get along today, after all that fighting (they were at it on several occasions, as you know.) This makes you think; What was the point? (Hitler can’t be blamed for earlier conflicts, like WWI for example…)

  12. Thank you so much for sharing Mutti’s first-hand account of the Occupation. I have visited Normandie several times; it is always a moving experience to stand on the beaches and to consider the sacrifices made there.
    Ironically, the Doisneau photo you feature in this post is called, “Le Plongeur du Pont d’Iéna”. Napoléon named the bridge after the 1806 battle of Iéna (Jena in Central Germany) in which invading French soldiers killed or wounded an estimated 10,000 Prussians (Germans).
    Largely due to the leadership of Général de Gaulle following WW II, the centuries-old French-German cycle of invasion and destruction of each other’s countries came to an end. Europe and the world owe a lot to Général de Gaulle. He was a great man.

    • Bonjour Dean. Thank you for joining my “most faithful readers.” 🙂 What a wonderful comment. Great information about the Pont d’Iena and Doisneau’s shot. I am sure everyone will appreciate, as I have. As for your take on General de Gaulle, my dad would approve. He only refers to De Gaulle as “Le General” or “Le Grand Charles” (and I am pretty certain he does not only refer to his size!)

  13. Yes, bravo indeed! You share the most amazing posts, Veronique. What a wonderful letter that Mutil sent to Alec. This is letter is a treasure that he should keep always. We all need to remember these horrific years and the sacrifices that were made. My husband and I took a special tour in 1999. A professor at the University of Texas, a expert on D Day, let our group. We started in London, crossed by ferry into Normandy, and ended in Germany where the Armistice was signed. The trip took us from the planning to the invasion to the surrender. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. So many emotional as we followed the path of these heros. Thank you for sharing this personal account that your sweet mother shared with Alec.

    • You’re welcome Sarah. I guess I did not make it clear enough that Mutti is my husband’s Mom 🙂 Still, it makes no difference, and I am happy that this story brought about so many insightful comments, and to some people, so many memories. Thank you for stopping by.

  14. France shall always remember the sacrifice of her allies, not only Americans, but also British and Russian.It shames me that no American president has ever honored the french contribution in WWI by visiting places like Notre Dame de Lorette,the Marais de St. Gond, the Chemin des Dames, la Ferme de Navarin,Verdun, la trouee de Charmes, or Hartmannsvillerkopf.Even German leaders have!Remember this also: the french who collaborated with the Nazis were what we would recognize as the “Moral Majority” or “Neo-Cons”. In other words what we call the Republican Party.

    • Oh, a political comment. We are not used to these on this blog (not to say that we don’t enjoy them 🙂 I will not comment on the last part, but will say that I do not think there is a single French person who is not grateful to ALL of France’s allies during WW2. I remember that after studying WW1 and WW2 in detail as a high school student in the French Republican school system, I felt very grateful – and proud – of all French soldiers and their involvement in both conflicts. The soldiers Mutti mentioned in this story were not cowards and fought valiantly during the first few weeks of war. Many lost their lives. Their leadership and the French government at time are to blame for what happened next (France’s surrender.) France actually betrayed her own sons. I am particularly proud of all the young – and not so young – French people who left France during the Occupation and joined General de Gaulle in London, at the risk of being arrested, imprisoned, or worse, often leaving their relatives behind. De Gaulle himself could have been court martialed had he been caught. As a final note, I have overtime developed the theory that if a minority of French people did really bad things (we called them collaborators,) and another minority risked their lives to join the Resistance or even hide people on the run, a vast majority did what – I am surmising – most of us would do today: They tried to survive and feed their families during these grim times. There, my two cents. Getting off my soap box now.

  15. Thanks for sharing the letter and pictures of Normandy. I am fascinated by what life was like during the war and German occupation. I always ask my aunts and uncles how it was and can’t believe what they tell me. I just found out they sheltered a Jewish family on their farm for almost two years in the Tarn.

    • Bonjour Michel. Well, perfect timing with this informative note (see my message above.) Your aunt and uncle were very brave people. I recently saw the Tarantino movie, “Inglourious Basterds.” I find the horrific opening scene (that takes place in a farm in the middle of France,) to be one of the best interpretations of what it must have been like, for the French, to live under the German occupation, and the daily choices many had to make. Food for thought. Everyone should watch it. Thank you for contributing today.

  16. Merci for this reminder. My family visited to Normandy and some of its war sites in 1999. My son was 11 at the time and when we entered the American cemetery, all three of us were struck silent by the feeling of reverence. The grass looks like it’s cut with manicure scissors, and you have to be wearing shirt and shoes to be allowed in the Visitors Building to sign the guest book.

    Here’s a pdf of the guidebook to the cemetery and its memorials. I particularly liked the Garden of the Missing.

    I also was powerfully impressed by the memorial at Pointe du Hoc, which memorializes it by keeping it just the same. You can’t picnic or camp there, and the grass is cut with weed whackers to follow the bomb craters. There’s a plaque inside the burned-out bunker commemorating the Rangers who climbed the steep cliff face and captured it, and a photo of cliff with a flag they spread out on it to signal the artillery that the objective had been taken.

    It was a wonderful privilege to visit there.

    • Thank you for stopping by Ginny. I, too, remember the American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer. Did you know that France donated this piece of land to the United States, and that it is maintained by American staff (this would explain the manicured lawn 🙂 — A very moving place. La Pointe du Hoc is a chilling location. One only needs to take a look down the cliff and imagine the 225 brave Rangers climbing it under heavy fire. Only about 80 survived I believe. True heroes (the term is attributed a bit too easily nowadays, don’t you think?)
      Come back soon!

  17. Véronique, I’ve updated my D-Day blogpost with a P.S. directing my readers here. It’s such a touching and personal perspective on the suffering of occupation and the joy of liberation that I want all my readers to read it. Thank you again for sharing this with us!

    • Merci beaucoup. I am glad I found your informative post this morning too. As I commented on your blog, particularly enjoyed the part about the role played by the French Resistance in the weeks that preceded D-Day.

  18. Very moving. Have family members & friends (including French who are still alive) and have heard so many personal stories. Visited Normandy. My son too, who went to school in France, and American, and became French. France IS America’s oldest ally…and much of how Thomas Jefferson framed the US Constitution based on his (and George Washington, Ben Franklin’s admiration of France). France is the capital of the world in a sense as the most visited nation on earth. So much beauty there in every sense. So grateful she was saved. We must never forget.

    Thank you for this beautiful piece.

  19. Dear Veronique, my hat off to you that you’re raising your son knowing about WWII and the highest price of Freedom. I do the same. Every year on 9 May that is the Day of Great Victory over the German Fascists for Russians we have a minute of silence and a candlelight and a talk. Listen to the Seventh Symphony by Shostakovich in besieged Leningrad. This is part of our heritage and my father who was 12 at the beginning of the war still remembers the names of his classmates who didn’t survive.

    Your mom told a very touching story about hardships in occupied Paris and you put it together with amazing photo archive. D Day showed enormous courage and heroism.
    Fallen shouldn’t be forgotten. Thank you Mutti very much.

    I tried to tell my sons about the 900 days Siege of Leningrad where 1.5 million civilians out of 2.5 million people lost their lives from starvation, freezing cold and heavy bombarding. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and navy fallen defending one of the most beautiful cities in the world nowadays St. Petersbourg, which Hitler aimed to erase totally. A horrible catastrophe.
    The magnificent palaces in the city and around were restored from ruins to their unimaginable opulence. If you ever decide to see something more beautiful than even Versailles please e-mail me, I’d be happy to come up with some ideas.
    Sorry for the long comment. Couldn’t help it.

    • Dear Natalie, THANK YOU for the long comment! There was so much information that I don’t know where to start. I am glad you underlined what happened in Russia. Most comments here are about Europe, and everyone needs to know how much Russian people suffered during WW2. I would love to go to St Petersbourg one day, now more than ever, and if I ever decide to take the trip, I will make sure to ask you for advice. I am glad your son, like mine, will grow up knowing World History. Take care, my friend.

  20. Just wanted to tell you I enjoyed reading your family story…today I spent the afternoon with a veteran of WW2 I recently met…we had a lovely time. I feel so grateful to be able to speak to him, ask him questions… he offered me the book he wrote about his war time… I’m going to start it and will ask him more details about the war and its ordeal…it’s so important to hear those precious testimonies…as they will be soon even more difficult to get…as the survivors of those times won’t be alive for too many more years!!! But WE have to make sure they are not forgotten and we still honor all they did for us.

    • Bonjour Christel. I understand why you enjoyed your special time with this WW2 veteran. What a wonderful idea he had to write about his experience. I am guessing this was helpful to him, cathartic almost.

  21. What a wonderful post and so moving, Véronique. So much more poignant to read an account from someone who lived through this terrible time rather than learning from a history book. A few years ago we visited Arromanches and the cemeteries and I was astounded by the vast number or graves – as far as the eye could see.
    PS Thank you for your lovely comment about the Jubilee celebrations.

    • Bonjour miss b. You are right, a testimony is always more valuable and poignant than a story in a History book. You relate to stories more when you know the people involved in it. I know Mutti’s words touched my son more deeply than any history book could have.

  22. Brilliant post Veronique, thank you so much for sharing Mamie Mutti’s letter to your son. I despair every day about man’s need for warring and wonder if it’ll ever stop! The images that you’ve chosen to accompany your words are perfect, I’m in total awe of Robert Capa’s war images, and so tragic that it killed him in the end. Robert Doisneau also amazing at catching everyday life shots and making them special. My father was one of those soldiers that stormed the beaches at Normandy (Black Watch Regiment Scotland)thankfully he survived, but had nightmares right up until he passed away, as I’m sure many who fought in the war did. I pray everyday that our children won’t have to experience anything like this. I bet your son will treasure the letter forever, a possible heirloom perhaps. Take care, Grace.

    • Dear Grace. The journalists and photographers who cover world conflicts are at least as brave as the soldiers who fight them. Robert Capa was one of the greats. Your poor father. It does not surprise me that he had nightmares about D-Day for the rest of his life. I bet many of these brave men did. I am sorry he could not read Mutti’s words. I am thinking they would have made him feel good. Thank you for sharing these personal memories with us.

  23. Sorry for the delay, but here also some historical facts that happened in 1943, starting in September, which helped in some way the success of Overlord.
    Many brave men sacrificed himself to liberate Italy.
    Many German divisions were mobilized on this front and has never been released to join the German forces in France.
    To the east the Russians lost hundreds of thousands of troops to “occupy” the Germans on this second front.
    The battle of Italy is less known, but it has permit to many French management, including those of North Africa, to participate (finally) the terrible fighting to defeat the Nazis.
    The name of the French army was called “CEF” French Expeditionary Corps.
    Engaged with allied forces to liberate Europe from Nazi dictatorship, the French Expeditionary Corps commanded by General “June” has landed at Naples (released in September by the U.S. Army General Clark) September 23, 1943 .
    The front was stabilized on the Garigliano and Sangro rivers and the mountains of Abruzzo, where the Germans were entrenched behind the Gustav Line
    On 16 December, the second Moroccan Infantry Division of General Dody takes his place on the forehead followed by other volunteer troops recruited in North Africa.
    In the cold winter of heavy fighting taking place for the possession of Monte Cassino.
    May 18, 1944, through the bold maneuver of General June in Aurunci Mountains, the lock jump, clearing the way for the capture of Rome (June 4, 194
    The number of 15,000 in December 1943, 113,000 in May 1944, French troops have complained almost 10,000 killed or missing 23,506 wounded in few weeks.
    The cemetery includes Venafro soldiers killed in fighting for the capture of the Gustav Line including those who died in hospital of Naples and Miano is previously buried 4,922 graves.
    The number of divisions of the German mobilization in Italy, could never reach the north of France to repel the Allied forces.
    If the allied forces were able to reach Berlin along the Russian army is certainly thanks to the German defeat in Italy.
    French forces did participate in these terrible battles in Italy.
    It was General Leclerc and his tank division who discovered “the eagle’s nest” refuge from Hitler in Austria.
    But many French people, civilians, died in France evrywhere in the south of Normandy.
    They harassed the SS divisions that were installed in the south west of France.
    There have been numerous killings by the SS, excited to find the bridges destroyed, power poles lying on the roads, telephone lines sabotaged.
    The most famous terrible massacre : 700 people in Oradour sur Glane.
    Men, women, children and elderly. Only three survivors.
    At Tulle, the SS 100 men chosen at random, and have hung on the balconies of the city.
    This SS division arrived too late and could not reject the allied forces in the sea!
    Mission accomplished for all those brave people who have joined forces to our friends of the American, British, Canadian, Polish, and also French fighting the Nazis.
    Thanks to General de Gaulle in France, the French and Germans have become best friends.
    Europe is mostly built for everything that has happened, never happens again.
    I have many friends in Germany who are my age (48 years).
    This generation is still traumatized by the “souvenir” that “parents” did wrong, or let them go.
    Pray that this never happens again!

    Georges (véro brother 🙂 ) a friend of all people 🙂

    • Little Brother– I see you are still the “history buff!” Great info here. Thank you for sharing, and in English, no less! It took me a while to realize that “General June” was actually “le Maréchal Juin,” but no matter. Great post! Bisous.

    • Yes, Meerci beaucoup! It was a world war indeed. It also involved Africa, and not just North Africa. I believe my late grandfather Charles Situma Songoro, a Kenyan, fought in the war of Abyssinia in North East Africa as part of the Kings African Rifles with the Allied forces & the Empire of Ethiopia against the Italians. Many of his colleagues from Kenya and Uganda also participated in related battles around the globe. They were drafted in a war whose beginnings, objectives and expanse they did not fully comprehend partly because “nobody” would mourn or remember them. They had to be brave soldiers; having learned Western, mechanized warfare fast enough to survive, they later changed histories of their countries. Long before internet reached our village, i recall that he always kept abreast of “world news & information” via BBC Radio on a static-plagued, hand-held, battery-powered device, a habit he must have picked during the War. He and others like him died with so much information about their role in these Wars. I believe there is a commemorative statue to these unsung heroes along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi for those of you who might visit Kenya(near crossroad with Wabera Street). Let us also not forget these.

    • Merci Beaucoup! French Girl in Seattle for starting & keeping track of these conversations! Thank you “Georges” for mentioning Africa. It was a World war indeed. East Africans from Kenya, Uganda and even Malawi also fought as part of the British King’s African Rifles in many related battles around the globe (notably the battles of Abyssinia). I fondly remember my grandpa Charles Situma Songoro telling us stories of crash courses in Western artillery & intelligence. They were drafted into Wars & allegiances whose origins, justification & objectives they knew little about, partly because “nobody” would miss, mourn or remember them. They had to be brave and sharp to survive; later they played a pivotal role in struggles against colonialism, changing histories of their countries. Long before internet reached rural Kenya, I have an enduring image of him keeping abreast of “world news & information” by religiously following radio bulletins on BBC using a static-ridden, battery-powered, hand-held (to the ear no less)device; a practice he must have piked up from the War. If any of you visit Kenya, please take a walk to the commemorative statue to these unsung heroes along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi (near crossroads with Wabera Street) or to the War Memorial Cemetery ( often manicured) along Uhuru Highway and the War Memorial hospital along Mbagathi Road respectively. N’oublions pas svp !

  24. Thank you for this moving post. I just discovered your Blog today. As a “boomer” I was born after WWII, the child of a U.S. Air Force pilot who flew out of England and North Africa, then out of Italy. At the end, we were stationed in Japan, where I was born. Our parents made sure we remembered. We lost a grandfather at the end of WWI.
    I lived in England in the 1990’s, and found a lot of reminders there. My second day, mixed in with the other News, was that a Charter had been issued to rebuild the last remaining bombed out church. I nearly cried. I probably felt rather like my mother did when we went back to Tokyo in the mid 1960’s and saw a city and healthy people where we had known mostly rubble and ruin surrounding the Imperial Palace. Those places help keep the past in thought.
    I had the lovely experience in England of living with a group of dear older ladies who remembered the “Yanks.” “Memphis Belle” came out while I was there and it brought back a lot of memories for these ladies and I found them surrounding me and thanking me as an American.
    No, they haven’t forgotten.
    On behalf of my parents I thanked them for being the bulwark that stood nearly alone for so long until we could get it together and join them.
    I think it’s the ones most likely to repeat the horrors that work so hard to deny history.

    • Thank you for this very personal and touching message, Dianne. I know my readers will enjoy reading one more testimony about the war years. Come back anytime! Thank you as well for joining the ranks of my “Faithful Followers.” Ours is a peaceful, supportive, usally good humored group. You will like it here!

  25. Thank you so much. It means so much to keep this history alive. My father was drafted into the US Army just when I was born. He landed in France late July ,1944. He died in the battle of St..Lo in August, 1944. I was only a few months old. He is buried in the Brittany Memorial Cemetery in St. James France. I visited his grave in 1966. I visited Normandy and the beaches 3 years ago. I’m now reading The Nightingale about the war in Frace and the resistance movement.

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