Verdun – day 2

Cathy posting

Monday 2nd April 2018

Pogo is still in the sugared almond factory.

We woke early and walked the 20 mins into Verdun, sun was breaking through and although it’s very quiet all around as it’s Easter there were a few people milling about.

We took a stroll down to the river by the 14th century gates, it’s a lovely riverside and the Meuse as it’s called is reminiscent of the colour of the Moselle.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Moselle, it was at Koblensz, and we were on a motorbike tour following the Rhine and when we got to Koblensz we went to the fortress Ehrenbriitstein  looking down on to the point where the confluence of the Rhine & Moselle meet,  I couldn’t get over the difference in the two colours as they met the Rhine being very blue and the Moselle a sort of soupy pea green.

Back at the riverside in Verdun we spotted a café open with chairs outside and ordered coffee, a cappuccino for me  and espresso for him, no food though but monsieur says go to the patisserie around the corner and bring them back here, off Dave goes and brings back the best pain au chocolate I’ve ever had and he had the freshest quiche Lorraine, all warm and soft in the middle.

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Breakfast in the sun!

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What’s that doing here?

It was lovely sitting in the sun

We head off to see Verdun Cathedral it’s called Notre Dame it has beautiful stained glass windows and I don’t think I’ve seen so much art on the walls in a cathedral before.

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Cathedral Notre Dame in Verdun with paintings

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The marks of the largest battle of WW1 from 21st Feb to 18th Dec 1916, 9 months, 3 weeks and 6 days! Between French and German still an every day reminder of the horrors that took place in this area, lest we forget.

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Battle scarred walls

The Eastern side was destroyed and the towers were never rebuilt

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It was freezing inside the cathedral you could see your breath it was that cold so we decide to have a walk along the river banks it was lovely and sunny and lots of joggers about which reminded me to find a walking app, our daughter suggests Run Tracker so I’ll look at that later.

These strange looking trees are all round the city.

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The area around the River Meuse has a surprising variety of fauna and it’s an area of European importance for bird life as 30 endangered species reproduce here in Spring including the Ash Coloured Eurasion Curlew for the bird lovers amongst you, hundreds of migratory birds come to this valley in Autumn and some spend the winter here.

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River Meuse

We walked back to Pogos’ resting spot at the almond factory and decide to drive 14kms just outside the city to Douaumont Ossuary high up in the hillside.

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Douaumont Ossuary

This is a monument and chapel and national cemetery of war graves dedicated to the dead and it also contains the skeletal remains of French and German soldiers who died on the battlefields, at least 130,000 unidentified soldiers bones can be viewed through windows I wasn’t expecting that and although we’ve seen the huge cemetery nothing prepares you to see bones and skulls piled on top of one another.

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Germans fired 1 million shells in 10 hours during one day in 1916

We climbed the tower 46 metres, 204 steps high and had a panoramic view of the battlefields we went back down and lit a candle in the Chapel.

 

That’s it on WW1 can’t do anymore it’s too emotional.

We got back into Pogo for a cup of tea with Jacobs cream crackers and Laughing Cow cheese! I know !! but Dave loves them!

It reminds him of all our family holidays in France when we stayed in Gites or Keycamp sites, our son Christopher had his 1st birthday in a tent in St Jean de Monts, Vendee, France, we hung his cards up on the tent poles!

Tea and crackers done and we’re off to Nancy en-route to Ribeauville. We are on a free Aire at the side of the Moselle now and we like free Aires!

Cathy

Verdun – 1st day

Dave posting;

We left Mutigny this morning and headed towards Nancy in Eastern France, we will have an overnight stop at Verdun.

En-route we bought diesel at 1.36 euros and later stopped at a local boulangarie for a lunchtime baggette, time to try out my schoolboy French, whilst in the shop I bought  two cakes, after all it’s Easter Sunday and we don’t have any chocolate in the motorhome!

About 30 kms from Verdun we pull over and munch the lovely bagettes and cakes!

After a decent break we travel on and arrive at the free overnight site, it’s a designated spot at a factory but it’s like an Aire with no services. Verdun centre is 20 mins walk away and it seems very quite here inside the residential area of Verdun.

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Clean sugared almond factory at Verdun – a free stopover

Pogo is parked  at Dragees Braquier, sugared almonds to me and you! a sugared almond small unit/factory and it’s the smartest, cleanest factory I’ve ever seen, there’s a shop attached to pop in buy their products, maybe we will go in later or tomorrow.

When we arrived there was a locked gate across the entrance, what are we going to do now? wait a minute Dave, Cathy says and reads the signs on the gates, it looks like we are the rear entrance for delivery vehicles! So we drive around the block and found the entrance on the other side! The signs direct us to the rear where there is marked out and designated space for 3 or 4 vans, we are the first here, so we choose our spot.

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City Gate at Verdun

 

After a little rest we walk in to town it’s now about 5pm, over the bridge and through the city gates, we discover a museum tucked away and we spend an interesting 30 minutes in there, it’s an old building dated from 1525 & we found the courtyard really interesting, plus it’s free entrance on the first Sunday off every month, that was lucky!

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Musee De La Princerie

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Monument of Victory in Verdun towards the River

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Monument of Victory where records of soldiers are kept on an old carding system

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How about this! a toilet for dogs, only in France!

We head towards the cathedral, and square, once there we decide to save the cathedral visit for tomorrow when we have more time. As we wandered  back down the hill towards the River Meuse, we see a bar, Le Club over the bridge, let’s go for a drink ! we have not been to a bar yet and 5 mins later we are having our first wine and beer of the tour! I had Battin Extra at 2.50 Euros for 250ml, expensive but it was lovely! Cathy was happy as they had her favourite Rose wine Cotes de Provence. It was entertaining watching the folks in the bar as there was a bit of Argy – bargy going on with one of the local lads who had obviously had too much!!

We really enjoyed our day and evening today!

Dave