French home stays, excursions, expand Crestview visitors' horizons

Noirmoutier culture

Marie Anne Fella and Rip Coleman, right, discuss Noirmoutain oysters as Coleman's French host, Patrice Videlier, observes.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 17:57 PM.

NOIRMOUTIER — Treading where history took place and immersing themselves in the life of their sister city counterparts gave Crestview visitors a new way of viewing their world.

Standing on Pointe du Hoc’s cratered bluff during an overnight excursion to Normandy, Montavius Diamond, 24, suddenly understood the relevance of World War II history lessons.

In June 1944, U.S. Army Rangers scaled the towering bluffs under withering German gunfire and inadvertent shelling from U.S. warships.

"Those guys were younger than me when they climbed up here," Diamond said softly as he gazed at the English Channel over rusted barbed wire crowning the bluff’s edge.

The nearby sword-shaped memorial to Col. James Rudder, namesake of the Rangers training camp at Eglin Air Force Base, gave the Crestview group another connection.

During their stay with host families, participants learned about oyster cultivation, beat the incoming tide as it flooded the causeway connecting the island to the mainland, observed sea salt harvesting, and relished cuisine for which the French are famous.

Pam Coffield watched as a Noirmoutain tailor demonstrated a hand-cranked sewing machine, and marveled at the artist's skill as she guided the fabric with one hand.



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