Falaise is famous for two things, although prior to our visit en route to our Ouistreham ferry, I was aware of only one of them.
A while after D-Day in the battle for Normandy, allied forces surrounded an estimated 50,000 German troops, eventually completely encircling them, in what became known as the Falaise Pocket. It began as a pocket but British forces (in the north) and American forces ( in the south) eventually linked up east of Falaise and sealed the pocket. This really became a killing ground and the Germans suffered enormous losses. It’s one of the few WWII episodes I remember my father, who crossed over as a Morse code operator a few days after D-Day, talking about.
Beside the main square in Falaise is what I think is a WWII Sherman tank, though I couldn’t find an information board confirming my suspicions. There is, however, an information board about Jef Aérosol, the French graffiti artist who decorated said tank. [I have dreadful trouble not mangling that name. 😀 ]
What I didn’t know was that Falaise was the birthplace and home of Guillaume le Conquérant, as he is known in France – William the Conqueror. The remains of his castle are there. At the foot of the castle is a free parking area, which allows camper vans (to stay overnight if necessary) and which is largely why we went to have a look.
On the opposite side of the square from the Sherman tank is the église de la trinité de Falaise which dates from 1240-ish in its current form, though there was, I believe, a church there from the 9th century. In the middle of the square, waving a spear menacingly at the church, is a statue of Guillaume le Conquérant doing his best to imitate the Lone Ranger’s Hi-yo Silver pose.
We found a pleasant though windy bar to quaff a few beers whilst passing the time until we could reasonably turn up for the ferry.
Here endeth Frodo’s first foreign trip.