Published: November 27th 2011May 28th 2010
What a journey! It always feels a long way before we start to feel we are on holiday. By the time we reach the M6 we generally though feel as if we are on our way. 5 hours of driving and we arrived at the Channel Tunnel. France and Calais beckoned just the other side of the Channel. We had planned a leisurely ride down to the Dordogne with stops on the way. Our journey on the train never seems to take long and on the way we found ourselves talking to two Maltese men, a father and a son who had travelled from home in Malta to Britain to purchase their second hand cars and then drive them home across Europe. It appears that it costs less to buy a car here in Britain, drive it through the Tunnel, across France, through Italy and by ferry to Malta than buy one at home. We stayed the first night at a Kyriad in Calais just enough travelling for one day. Evening was spent watching the ferries arriving and leaving and seeing our first Aire de Repose. People sat inside their motorhomes cooking and eating and sitting outside reading newspapers in the
fading light of the day.
Our first visit of the next day was to the Forest of Compiegne - a large forest in the Picardy region of France. Deer, rabbits and wild boar roam in the forest although sadly we didnt see any of them. The site was the location of the Armistice between the allies and Germany on November 11th 1918 held deep in the heart of forest to avoid the prying eyes of journalists. The Armistice was signed in a specially designed rail car. The clearing is a quiet atmospheric place now. It remains open 6 days a week with visitors able to see the railway carriage and museum attached to it. Well worth a visit even if you are not interested in warfare.
Our second visit of the day was to Pierrefonds and the chateau which overlooks the town. Do you recognise it? If you watch BBc1 on a Saturday night you may well do. If I said "In a land of myth and and a time of magic" that might give you a clue. Chateau de Pierrefonds lies to the south-east of Compiegne in Picardy. It has all the characteristics of a medieval castle
and is used as a backdrop for the Merlin series. It has a delightful setting in a small town and the castle overlooks the town below. Huts and medievel peasants houses have been built for the film set on the way into the castle . The chateau was badly destroyed and was rebuilt in the 19th century. Despite this rebuilding the castle is a very evocative place full of surprises. A good place for kids and adults alike. Can you spot the statue? Are you able to work out which rooms were used last week on Merlin? It is majestic and imposing and a favourite place amongst the Parisian visitors. Paris being just up the road.
If you want to make a interesting day out start at Compiegne, contemplate on the importance of the site, walk in the silent woods, sit in a cafe eating crepes beneath Pierrefonds before taking a trip back to that land of myths and time of legends. Perhaps you will see filming whilst there.