Visiting Le Quesnoy on Our Way to Tournehem and Calais

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July 15th 2015
Published: July 19th 2015
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Cathedral overlooking the town.
Wednesday 15 July 2015

Our time in France is rapidly coming to an end. This last week has been enjoyable and we have been able to visit our "must see" sights. Today we head for a little village just south of Calais. We have one "must see" town to visit today. We have enjoyed exploring Reims and the Champagne Countryside and sorry to leave so soon. The hotel on the other hand is a different story. We won't spoil our wonderful memories of the area by writing of our hotel experience.

With the car packed and a quick discussion with Polly we head off for Le Quesnoy, about a two hour drive away. This town is very historic with remarkable defensive ramparts. During WWI the German army had control of the town for nearly the entire duration of the conflict. A New Zealand division was given the task of liberating the town with as little damage as possible. The soldiers achieved their objective and today the bonds between this town and NZ are very strong.

Our drive took us through two interesting towns. The first, Laon, had a large cathedral overlooking the town from a high hill. We
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Memorial to NZ soldiers.
have an appointment to keep so we admire from afar and store the sight in the "another time" basket. The second town was Guise. Again there is a high hill dominating the town but this time there are the remains of a castle. We discuss the name of Guise and after research wonder if it is the same name as Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots. We drive on but will remember this town.

What started out as a promising day of warm sunny weather changed to drizzly rain. This was not what we had planned on. The approach to the centre of Le Quesnoy takes you past impressive ramparts. It certainly would have made the soldiers' job of getting into the town really difficult. Finding a carpark was easy, and free. Light rain was falling and so, with coats and umbrellas, we headed for the centre of town and important sites. The sign pointing to the NZ Memorial was easy to find but we needed to cross the town to find it. The memorial is a very large plaque on the rampart depicting the soldiers' entry into the town. Rain was a real spoiler today
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Memorial to NZ soldiers at the spot they climbed the ramparts.
but it was time for lunch. Sometimes things happen when you least expect them and today was one of those days

As we paid the bill we commented on the New Zealand flag and Anzac Day poppies on the wall. Our elderly host produced a broad smile not seen during our entire visit to her cafe. Just as we were leaving another guest enquired as to whether or not we were Kiwis. After confirmation it soon turned out that our fellow guests were in fact retired members of the diplomatic corps and had represented NZ at a ceremony in the town in 1988. This was their first visit back since then. We had a wonderful conversation on present and past experiences. The cafe owner was getting very agitated and started turning off lights for her mid afternoon closure. Time to leave. We exchanged names and email addresses and no doubt we will make contact back in NZ.

In an enclosed area near the town hall we found a very large model of a Maori warrior on wheels that probably comes out during commemoration celebrations and parades through the streets. Over the road are the street names with NZ
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Tour member appearing in opening in ramparts.
connections, one is Rue Helene Clark, named after a previous NZ Prime Minister. Along the road is a house named after NZ that is used for exhibitions. Unfortunately we needed to move on and the weather was rather unkind. We left wondering what else the town had that connected it with NZ. We do know they commemorate Anzac Day every year. It would be interesting to be part of it one day.

Heading north we flirted with the Belgian border without crossing it. Perhaps on our return later in the month. Just north of Lille our estimated time of arrival stretched out another hour. Four lanes into two at rush hour doesn't work that easily, not once but several times. We passed by the village of Steenwerck, and a WWI cemetery that is the resting place of one tour member's Uncle Harry. We will linger awhile on our return in two weeks time.

Our resting place for the night was Tournehem, about twenty minutes drive from Calais. Tomorrow is an exciting day and there is much anticipation of what is to come. We take our lovely French car on the train through the Eurotunnel to the UK. How
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Maori warrior ready for the next parade.
will we cope? We'll see.

Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


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Street re - named after a previous NZ Prime Minister.
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House used for exhibitions.
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Part of the ramparts surrounding the town.

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