Making an incredibly early start was easy today, having camped in Oliver who was very pleased to see us we didn’t have the best nights rest, some slight alterations to the back seat to allow us to put the front ones down would have made all the difference. On the road by eight we drove through sleepy village after sleepy village, it was easy to see we were in France the houses tending to be browns and creams rather than some of the more vibrant colours we had been seeing elsewhere. By eight thirty we had come to the conclusion that we must have missed the invasion of the body snatchers in the night, there was no a soul to be seen. With nothing open and the need for coffee growing ever urgent we programmed our friendly Auzzie on the dashboard and found a McDonalds quite quickly, this at least was open. Two coffees, a bacon and egg Mcmuffin and an egg Mcfuffin (only 4.40 Euro) later we contemplated the lack of humans. Checking our phones told us that it was May 1st
….and the lights went on, we had started out on a Bank Holiday! Unused to this during the middle
of the week, with all UK Bank Holiday’s being on a Monday and everything except the banks and libraries being open, it was no wonder we were confused.
Woolly says – I thought it was lovely having no people around and so did Oliver who had the road to himself, we asked Oliver to head towards Verdun and headed off to the first visit of the day. Today’s visits had all come from Ian, we usually take turns and plan together so that our separate interests can be given attention, Ian with his Ancient History, Jo with her Modern history and me with my interest in Snack Bars!!!. What a find this was! Pulling onto the huge carpark it was easy to spot the Citadel Souterraine of Verdun, it’s MASSIVE with giant walls stretching way above us and super-size statues, it looked very interesting. Paying over our 7 Euro each (approximately £5.90 GBP) we made our way to a little train, and after being seated it set off through some doors with an English voice giving us loads of information. The train follows a short way through the tunnels and deals primarily with individual peoples stories of
their times in the 1914 – 1918 war, it was AWESOME! We really felt as though we were there with them and that was nothing to do with the chilly tunnels we were being transported through, it must have been a grim place to be and when they told us that over 275,000 French solders alone had died there it made us all very thoughtful. The town of Verdun where awarded 8 honorary medals from all of the allied forces for their bravery in 1916 and for their complete contribution to the battles that were held in the area. They were also given the honour in 1920 of choosing the unknown solider to be buried at the L’Arc De Truimph. We saw the story of this when we alighted from the train and walked through the tunnels towards the small on site museum. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photographs in the tunnels in recognition of the soldiers who had lost their lives for France but I was over the moon to be able to take some pictures of the craftwork they had made while serving there and the weaponry they had used.
Coming back into the
sunshine we wandered round the areas that we could of the Citadel, it was impossible to really take any pictures that gave the place any justice for its size, but we tried. Heading off again we found the roads still deserted and had a lovely journey through the wonderful rolling countryside heading closer and closer towards the Champagne area of France. With the pretty towns and villages, beautiful Churches and mile upon mile of vines growing, we seemed to arrive quickly at Chateaux Thierry.
Woolly says – the journey was great and I had great fun watching the kamikaze bugs smashing onto Oliver’s windscreen, Oliver 300 – Bugs 0. We arrived at the foot of the ruins of the castle of chateaux Thierry and the gate that is dedicated to Joan of Arc. As the sun was fully out and the temperatures were in the mid-twenties I swapped my scarf for my bandana and we headed inside. It was FREE!!!!! Walking through the medieval gates it was easy to understand the layout of the castle with its battlements and towers, I felt right at home, Sir Woolly rides again!! The Kings Tower was the best of the
ruins with its huge window seats; it must have been really cool to sit there and look out over all you own. An added treat was an open area in the middle which housed different birds of prey, with falcons and buzzards I kept a sharp eye out for owls for Auntie Becky and found several, one was so quite I got Jo to take a picture of that one for me, I wanted one of me with another owl but it kept hissing at me which I didn’t like! Finally Jo got me snapped with a lovely owl with had the biggest orange eyes ever. Finding a campsite took a little longer than usual and I was impatient to be sitting down and writing to my bestest friend Sion when the heavens opened and Jo and Ian got very wet putting up Bertha, I would have helped but I knew I would only get in the way so I kept Oliver company. We are staying at Camping des Illettes in Charly Sur Marne for the next two nights as apparently Jo and Ian want a day’s rest from travelling, lazy pair.
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