A Travellerspoint blog

France

Sailly Le-Sec

near Amiens

semi-overcast 17 °C

On the road nice and early . Rob drove in front, a a nice pace. he made some different decisions from heidi ( sat nav) which turned out to be much better and shows the benefit of local knowledge.

Passed a 4 car accident of the other side of the road, and the build up of traffic was immense. i made one of these prophetic statements about how grateful i was that it wasn’t us sitting there for ages on end, when you have places to be.

Lunch was in Belgium, and then the “fun” began.Rob and Ans have done a lot of travelling in Europe and have their attack well practised, thank goodness. Their information told them we could expect big road delays and man was it right.Stuck in an enormous road block with a gazillion other irritated and impatient vehicles is no fun. Truck drivers are irritable and short fused. Rob made a decision to leave the line, our internet is very unreliable (read useless), so no communication between us so we just followed on blind faith.
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The traffic in France by now was incredibly heavy, we needed to follow very closely to stop anyone getting in between us. Driving style has changed now to fast and aggressive, so no more Mr Nice Guy.

We had it worked out that we were going to be travelling approx 400km ,and estimated it to take 4-5 hours It was 5pm by now and we had been on the road since 9am and getting very tired indeed. Once we went back thru a toll we were on quiet rural roads and it was gorgeous however.We could start breathing again!

Our destination is in the Somme region and just full to the brim of history from the world wars. At the end of our road is an Australian division memorial. It is on our list of places to discover today.So special at this time of the year (25th April). Such a bonus and made all our stress and long journey yesterday worthwhile in the end. Checking into the campsite was easy as reception spoke english and he was generous and personable.We have a beautiful spot.
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Sat outside (being stubborn I think) to enjoy our evening drinks, despite it being bitterly cold. After tea, which has continued the hotel standard cuisine, we walked into the village. Hardly a soul to be seen. We did want to find a bar, but no commercial premises. The only way we knew it was inhabited was by seeing lights on behind the windows.
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There is so much to see. Once again it will be necessary to pick what is possible. We want to get to Giverny with a day to spare to try and sort out transport options beforehand.

Posted by Sallyj66 00:41 Archived in France Comments (1)

Amiens

"Lest We Forget"

sunny

A nice leisurely start to the day. Unloaded bikes and the lovely man at reception directed us to a bike track alongside the Somme River (that we are camped beside). We biked 57km yesterday, not suffering so that is good.
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It is just beautiful to be riding along the river, with hardly anyone about, in such lovely surroundings. Hard to believe that we are in France doing this. Sal was in photographer’s heaven.The first wee village we came to called Corby. We were having a packed lunch, with a big friendly goose, and an Australian lady recognised our english.
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She was a fount of knowledge.The Australians have a unique and special relationship here because of the heroics of their soldiers during the first world war. They are still welcomed almost like long lost family. This woman was part of a tour - and there are lots-and it was her third time for the 100 year celebrations on 25th, especially dawn service. She told us the good places to visit - our own impromptu information bureau.

Biked onto Amiens. What a pretty city. Wanted to see the Cathedral Notre Dame of Amiens, and it was stunning. Still doing restoration work, I suppose that is ongoing.The magnificence of the carving and sheer size was breath taking. There was a plaque for NZers from the war also. Did some shopping in the town, the people are so friendly especially when they know we are from NZ. Shops are closed till about 4pm after which the town comes alive again.
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We have decided to stay another day to visit some places recommended. I want to see the NZ memorial on Anzac day (at home). It sounds windy and rainy outside, so whether we bike or not we will see.

Posted by Sallyj66 21:14 Archived in France Comments (0)

Albert

Big Country

After our long bike ride the previous day, we had thought about having less arduous trip today. We were still in the mood to discover some the first world war history after our discussions on the trip to Amiens.

Albert has a Somme Trench Museum that we had been told was really good, and is not too far away(13km) so seemed a good destination. Navigation is mostly Rob and Ans domain. Between them they are a great team, Rob with his map, Ans with her digital map. We follow.
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Biking to Albert we went through amazing farm land. Largely cropping, fabulous looking soil, worked down so finely with massive machinery. Our farmers would drool. It is perturbing to me to think of all the battles fought on this land, all the men whose lives have been lost, their wives/mothers/sisters etc who were heartbroken. It is not just the last two world wars, but numerous wars fought on this strategic and productive land. Apparently even to this day fragments and remnants are brought up when paddocks worked..

Also biked through a few little villages. I am mostly struck by how quiet they are. Hardly a soul to be seen. Dogs bark at us to not intrude, the occasional car swishes by, and to all intents and purposes one would think they are deserted.

Albert is a beautiful town. The museum was very well done - an underground museum giving a very good history and atmospheric impression of ‘life’ in the trenches. The cathedral is just beautiful also. The gold spire can be seen for miles around.
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We decided to detour going home. Biking through lots and lots of fields and villages. Visited the British Commonwealth Cemetery where 1 NZer is buried. In all our short trip ended up being 44km, i.e 101km in 2 days. No wonder we were tired. But time to move on. The bikes are back on the camper and today we travel towards Giverny.

Posted by Sallyj66 23:13 Archived in France Comments (1)

Camping by the Seine

Chateau de Bouafles

sunny

Enroute to our camp near Giverny, we detoured to Naours to see a subterranean city, this had been recommended to us by the lady we met by the river. Her hint to us was to bring a torch and that was very valuable.

Totally fascinating experience,33 metres below ground it took the villagers 4 years to excavate these chambers and passages. There is a constant temp of 9-10 degrees. The street names correspond with those above ground. The children were used to entrap any intruders with low level passages. On the walls are the names of soldiers who used this place as a safe refuge from war. We didnt’ see any NZ names, but lots of Australians.
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Our journey was planned to avoid Paris traffic as much as possible. This also means we then take the small national routes through villages. While this is more picturesque and beautiful it is also more precarious taking these big vehicles through very narrow streets.

We got lost getting here, the ‘we’ being Sal and I. We usually keep very close to Rob and Ans, however today missed a street corner. Our sat navs all give different variations how to reach a point. We thought we’d then follow ours only to be led well and truly up the garden path! Ended up in the woods with a dead end and nowhere else to go. Luckily a local noticed us and wanted to help. Thru all sorts of hand gesticulations he escorted us to the correct turn off. We have been very lucky with obliging and helpful French people.

Our site is great, well hedged off and a nice area. Only 5 minutes from a supermarket. We are having a quiet night tonight as tomorrow we will bike alongside the Seine to visit the garden of Claude Monet at Giverny, approx 21km. It seems there is lots to do, so we need a good night’s sleep.

Posted by Sallyj66 11:37 Archived in France Comments (1)

Giverny

Monet's Garden

semi-overcast

At long last I am able to realise a dream of mine to visit Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny.I particularly love impressionist art and this combined with an artist’s eye in the garden is my idea of heaven.
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I was not disappointed.
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We biked to Giverny, 21km via some pretty steep climbs, and just sweet villages .Took some navigation skills, we were looking for cycle paths along the Seine however the only path we found was still under construction and we were scolded for going on it prematurely.

The ride up the street to Giverny was so pretty. The gardens are beautiful. We had not bought tickets previously so had a long wait in a queue. It was fantastic seeing Kerrylea who had arrived earlier by shuttle bus from Vernon.
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The gardens lived up to expecttion. I just love the colours. Mostly spring bulbs and colours and in a few weeks I think we would see a totally different garden with the roses being out. So enjoyed it. The fragrance was equally as enticing. Very enjoyable with friends. Monet’s house is great, he clearly is not frightened of colour with strong colours throughout. Loved his kitchen and the blue tiles and enormous range cooker. It did not feel like a mans garden.
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All 6 of us then had a drink and chat in a restaurant for some time before we had to get back to our camp. So loved seeing Kerrylea and Michael after 2 years. Maybe when we are on our way back we will catch up again.

This evening we have made an itinerary at long last. Unfortunately we will not be able to fit all I wanted in, just seems there is too much and too little time. But we will have the best time and make the most of what we do have. Next stop Versailles.

Posted by Sallyj66 22:33 Archived in France Comments (2)

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