Saturday, 21 April 2012

Paris and Thiepval

Another lesuirely start with time to paint, paddle and put varnish on toenails, another pretty town and its boulangerie, and we arrived at St Cyr de Morin. Once again we were parked right by a playground and this time the boulangerie was less than a minute away!
The next day was our trip to Paris. After fresh croissants and brioche, we were very excited to board our train and head for the big city. It was cold, cold, cold and our first port of call was a cafe. Actions and a friendly manner enabled me to procure a straw for my little girl to drink her lemonade with, and the correct word for next time. My eldest opted for the very English Earl Grey.
In a whistle-stop tour we saw Notre Dame,

the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens, the Arc de Triomphe from a distance, picnicked by the Eiffel Tower and climbed the steps of Monmatre. After a quick stop for crepes we headed back to the Aire.
Next day we travelled through the heart of World War I territory. We visited the memorial to the lost of the Somme at Thiepval. The exhibition was just right for us as a family: plenty of information boards in English, displays and maps and a film for those of us who didn't want to read too much. There was a huge picture board of the faces of some of the men who disappeared in the Battle of the Somme and a computer data base with information about each man.My daughter used this to find soldiers with the same surname as her and then to find their photos. I grasped a whole new understanding of the nature of this war, played out in such a small area of the world. The place where this exhibition stood had  been in the centre of the action for the entire four years, passing back and forth and entirely devastated in the process.
We reached our last Aire, not far from Calais, where we were reunited with my best friend's brother and family and from where we departed for our ferry home. After a total of 1300 miles we delivered the motor-home to the hire company, marvelled at the tiny size and quiet engine of our car, and headed home!

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