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Published: December 30th 2019
Gabby the motorhome is alone. Quite alone on a free aire above the tiny village of Lions le Foret. She is in corner overshadowed by the gendarmerie and the pompiers. So we should be safe tonight . There are a couple of cars parked , two buses and the village dump. So folks do come back and forth with their rubbish. The buses wont move until Monday . It feels odd . At first I am not sure about staying but sense prevails . What can go wrong on an aire sandwiched between the police and fire service? If we cannot stop here safely where on earth can we be safe. We have moved from nearby Picardy and are now in Upper Normandy . It's a flat car park and very dark. After a while we get used to the quiet and the darkness.
We take the opportunity to take a walk into the village . We are just on the outskirts and it is very quiet . None of the locals seem about. The night is calm. No rain . A silent world that must light up in the season as Lions le Foret is one of the beautiful
villages of France . So what makes it earn that tag we wondered? Plenty of walks in the forest . Paths lead everywhere. The houses are all prettily painted with shutters and half timbering.. Typical of Normandy .There is a certain style and even the new builds adhere to this design. Unlike at home where all the houses seem to have become designed by one architect , if I can call them an architect. They all look the same and are to a single design with little individuality nor link to the area they are built in. The bricks or stone which once were used sympathetically now are the same wherever you go from the Midlands to South Wales, from Cornwall to the East Coast . At least here in Normandy someone , somewhere has said build as we always build . Make each house look as if it has always been here . Although we are not seeing it in its best light . There are the signs of flowers - wallflowers out of season, Winter pansies , Spring seems just around the corner . Roses even bloom in sheltered corners .
The shops are all decorated for
Christmas . Baubles of all colours fill the displays and we are wished a Joyeux Noel . I keep pinching myself. I cannot believe we will be spending Christmas Day in France. It is unbelievable . The village has its Christmas finery on. It has a long and illustrious history for such a small place . William I used to have a ducal palace here . . A castle was built by Henry I who died here after eating a bucketload of lampreys . Richard I resided here up until 1198. During the 100 years war the town was at the heart of the battles. During the second world war many agents were parachuted in.
We stopped at the prettily decorated market hall. All covered in twinkling white lights . The bars and restuarants were sadly all closed . The following morning after a peaceful nights sleep I walked down to the village on my own. Folks were about . I passed old men walking and smoking their pipes . Loud laughter came out of the tabac. All the shops were open and the women were doing their shopping. In the daylight Lions le Foret lived up to last nights expectations.
The market hall was open for business . Beneath its oak beamed roof the market traders were setting up for the day. Much as they had done for years I guess. I headed for my usual boulangerie and pattiserie . Un baguette ordered and du croissants , a tarte aux framboises. With my purchases under my arm - well the baguette under my arm I walked back to Gabby .
We are slowly wending our way to Christmas Eve . What is going to continue to be open I wonder ? What shops will close ? What attractions will have closed their doors for the season? If we find things closed we can move on . Thats the beauty of this way of life . A different view out of Gabbys windows every day ,
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