France 186 - Lusigny sur Barthe/the Restitution Canal /the cyclist and the pavement /the strange shop machine /Is it the St Louis Arch ?

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April 24th 2022
Published: April 24th 2022
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Gabby crept ever closer to home as she head in the direction of Troyes. The plan drive towards the tunnel over Monday , Tuesday and arrive mid-day on Wednesday . As always in Gabby plans change at the spin of a coin. The place we stay may be more interesting than we first thought . Sometimes it is worse than we expected . So there is always the chance that we move on or stay longer depending on our moods, the weather and the inclination to get home to the British weather and normality .

It is Easter Monday . And the world is fairly quiet . Very few lorries on the road . Perhaps today is treated as a Sunday and the lorries are not allowed to move unless their cargo is perishable . Our plan was to be closer to Calais and Glenn had sorted us out with a free nightstop just south of Troyes . We were heading for a small village of just around 2000 inhabitants on La Barthe. We knew nothing about it apart from it had suddenly appeared on Park4night as a place to lay your weary head. And it was free so what more could you want . Our overnight stops this trip had ranged from around 19 euros a night to free and all points in between . On average we had spent a little over 9 euros a night so all in all it had worked out a reasonable cheap holiday . Ok we did not have electricity but when we had it we really did not need it . We are coping with using Gabbys shower more o this trip. All in all aires free or charged in the main suit us better . And this one was going to go into the list of brilliant stop overs despite having nothing there.

The village appeared to have two main streets which ran off the Route National . In the village was a fairly modern non- descript church, a range of houses from modern to vernacular and a boulangerie plus an Express supermarket . I think it was the Intermarche branch and no doubt inside would look like the Tardis .

We parked up in between what turned out to be the Restitution Canal and the very small brook probably La Barthe on which swam a variety of ducks and moorhens . Mayflies hovered over the small brook eagerly snaffled up by the fish . A via verde the local long distance walking and cycling path ran alongside the canal . A grassy area had a few tables and chairs and some young families had come over , parked up and began to picnic on them . A couple of motorhomes parked up further down what perhaps once had been the towpath. It was a lovely quiet spot and we said a special thankyou to the village for providing it .

I walked up the village and it was incredibly quiet . What would it be like to live here in rural France but be handy for Troyes . My thoughts were broken up by the sound of bicycles coming up behind me. Two riders shouting to each other . All of a sudden the rider at the back either clipped the back wheel of the front bike or he caught the over large kerbstones . The impact sent him flying through the air and he was lucky to land on the soft grass rather than the hard road surface . He moaned , his bike was on top of them . The owners of a nearby house rushed out . I stood out of the way. With no first aid knowledge, with no idea of any french I was worse than useless . He appeared OK as when I walked back there was no sign of him .

I did not stop at the church but stood in front of the brightly painted war memorial. Although the names meant nothing it very poignant standing there in front of it thinking about the Ukrainain flags I had seen in France, the painted signs that Putin is a killer and the posters for the upcoming French Elections . There are still Syrian women with their babies and husbands hiding further down the roads waiting and hoping someone will give them a lift to somewhere . I felt there was little sympathy for them when the Ukrainian men were staying in their country to fight against Russia when the Syrians chose to leave . The posters are off Macron trying to look macho with his bare hairy chest on show and Marine Le Pen had moustaches painted on to make her look like Hitler . What a world we live in .

The boulangerie was full and for that I was extremely grateful as it gave me time to make my choice and see how the money machine worked . Cash was yet again a dirty word and to pay for your purchases you had to either feed your euro notes into one machine - change spewed out of the other or like a money box you could fill the coin one up.

On return we walked across the canal bridge . The height of the canal to one side of the bridge was around 6 to 8 feet higher than the other side . A lock was needed but instead the canal builders worked from the lower side cutting into the middle of the canal basin . They formed a U shape tapering from its start to its end . The water from the canal above fell over the three sides and dropped liked a thunderous waterfall. An ingenious solution I had never seen before .

Across the canal spanning both banks was an odd construction . At first we thought it looked like the Arch in St Louis . Made of iron with wood inserts it seemed to be some kind of mechanism to measure the water levels or so we thought . Hanging from its centre was an iron rod which thinned as it reached the water level and gently moved with the water movements . It turned out it was nothing to do with measuring the water . Called the Arch Klaus Rinke it was a sculpture built by the artist of the same name . It was described as an arch of wood and monumental metal that spanned the Restitution Canal . It was homage to an essay called the Imagination of Matter written in 1942.

We were mesmerised watching the water falling over the man made dam and the gentle swinging of the pendulum . A quiet night was had in this lovely part of France . The day ended watching the petanque game between the local men on the nearby pitch . So typically French today turned out to be .


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