Friday, April 3, 2009

Brussels to Bernay: Wednesday 31st March 2009

Yesterday was a big day – we both got haircuts. This is always a scary undertaking in a foreign country, but no major issues. We also needed a few new clothes as the weather has taken a turn for the better. A few t-shirts and a couple of pairs of trousers have been added to our suitcases.

Brussels to Bernay: Wednesday 31st March 2009

An early start to get the metro to Central Station to be on the 8:09 for the 2 hour trip to Lille, France. At 10:10 we took possession of our new Peugeot 207 – ours for the next 42 days.

We had decided to initially head to Le Quesnoy, about 65km away – a chance to get a feel for the car, not too far away, and because Andrew had attended an interesting talk while at Archives NZ on the impact of NZ Division freeing the town from the Germans in 1918. The town which is still surrounded by medieval walls, had been held by the Germans since 1914 but the NZ scaled ladders over the walls of the town and took the Germans prisoner.

The city walls

We arrived and found Rue de Helene Clark (Andrew was stunned when he saw that one), Maison du Waikato, and amongst others Rue Graeme Allwright (turns out he is a Wellingtonian singer who married French lady and became well known in France).

The were numerous references to NZ. We visited the memorial to the NZers which is situated on the city walls.

The NZ memorial, on the city walls. It is viewed from a position directly opposite, seperated by the moat

Paula was nearly not allowed back in the car after getting one of her shoes completely caked in mud while trying to take a photo.

The drive for the next hour was through the former battlefields of the Somme. We have both visited war cemeteries before, but the countless war memorials & the numbers of lives lost, in this relatively small area was sobering. From here we headed in the direction of Rouen and finally stopped in the small town of Bernay. We found the last room at the Hotel Lion d’Or, where the owner was extremely helpful. She recommended a local restaurant Le Clos Normand, which served up a lovely, flavoursome, simple meal.

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