La Marseillaise-The French National Anthem - In the Footsteps of de Gaulle - Colombey-les-Deux Eglises,France - 24th June 2016


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Europe » France » Champagne-Ardenne » Chaumont
June 24th 2016
Published: June 29th 2016
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Our last day in Dommartin –le-St Pere didn’t get off to a great start.

The trucks that have trundled through the town and past our apartment seemed to come in a greater number during the night. And even though they were at infrequent intervals they seemed to arrive just as we were getting back to sleep after the previous had come through. We hadn’t noticed them during the night until last night and this morning.

One small good thing was that we could still laze in bed and have a late breakfast today as we aren’t planning anything that we need to get underway until later in the morning.

The weather is not quite as warm as the previous two days but still very pleasant and we will take whatever we can of this sort of summer just in case it deserts us as we head north to Norway over the next week.

The countryside around DLSP is delightful and our drive down to Chaumont extended what we have experienced already.

France is very much like Germany in that sizeable stands of local trees appear everywhere on the horizon as we travelled south. The forests of trees in Germany were probably a little larger but France wouldn’t be too far behind. With the rolling green fields of various crops at different stages of their growth and then a small forest of trees you get a very pleasing contrast of green scenery.

We know we are very proud of having lovely green scenery in NZ but both France and Germany have a right to claim the same especially outside the main cities which we have tended to avoid other than for trips to see historical sites.

We had noticed a boulangerie along the street yesterday when our route changed from previous trips outside of the village. We now wished we had known about this little shop when we had discovered the one in the next village wasn’t open when we walked there on the first day here.

The shop didn’t have a big range but we were able to get a fresh, soft baguette and a couple of sweet treat each at a very reasonable price.

So our picnic supplies were complete and we headed off south to Chaumont.

Heading south first we had a picnic next to a very impressive viaduct at the entry to the small town. The viaduct was of three levels with a rail line on the top and a walkway for pedestrians on the bottom and we weren’t able to find out what actually was carried on the middle level.

The viaduct was built in the middle of the 19th century to carry the railway from Paris to Mulhouse near the Swiss border. It is over 600 metres long and over 50 metres high as it crosses the small river. It is interesting to consider why the rail builders thought a viaduct of this magnitude was really necessary over the valley that was in the way of the rail direction. It isn’t that the valley has steep sides which could have been overcome by cutting the rail line into the hillside and then running it across the relatively flat valley.However; we guess the mid 19th century was a time of building grand structures to match the advancement in transport of the time.

After lunch we headed west towards the final resting place of probably the most well known Frenchman of our time, Charles de Gaulle.

Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises is a picturesque little village in the middle of picture perfect French countryside and this were the great French leader is buried in a humble grave.

Born in 1890 he bought a substantial home in the village in 1934 and used it as his base to retreat to when things weren’t always going right for him during his time as President of France.

He died in CLDE in 1970 and a tall memorial known as ‘The Cross of Lorraine ‘was erected in memory of his service to France during WW2.

A sizable museum covering his life was built on the edge of the village in 2008 and it part of a pathway that can take you through the museum, to his gravesite, the Cross of Lorraine and to the home he lived in.

We did go there with the intent to take the tour but at €16.50 each to enter and everything leading up to the museum being in French only we thought we would save our money on this occasion as we probably wouldn’t get value for the admission fee paid.

If the village was picturesque then the view from the museum above the village was just beautiful even though light drizzle was making the distant view a little blurred. We could only imagine how grand the view would be a bright sunny day.

We stopped in at Sommevoire, a small village, just a few kilometres from our home village as Stephane (our host) had told us about a butcher who put together various tasty meat items and he wasn’t wrong. We were tempted by several options but decided upon a kebab each; Gretchen’s kebab was of more traditional meats while I went for a kebab that had meat options she wasn’t too keen on.

On our return to the DLSP we went inside the church that is across the way from our apartment.

The church had no electrical lighting and it took a couple of minutes for our eyes to adjust to the darkness.

It is a simple church built in the mid 1500’s with a couple of colourful stained glass windows.

Probably the most interesting discovery was a stack of neatly sawn firewood on one wall of the church and an ancient looking wood burner that had had some fairly basic maintenance to keep it going. A blackened ceiling around the flue gave clues to a near disaster with a hot fire at some recent time.

We had had another great day out in the countryside reinforcing that you don’t have to travel great distances to get satisfaction out of local sightseeing.

Our kebabs cooked up to be as tasty as they looked and we called it a day with the knowledge that we have a good distance to travel tomorrow and some sightseeing of WW2 Battle of the Bulge sites along the way.

PS:although we will be back to France on two more occasions on the BBA V3 we thought it appropriate to title this blog with the French National Anthem in honour of Charles de Gaulle.Enjoy the version on Youtube by 'bursty13'.We hadn't realised just how bloodthirsty the words of the song are.


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