Our trip was really good - Mike got to Paris safely, but his luggage was a day late. Thus, instead of heading straight to Normandy after we picked up the rental car, we spent a night in Fontainbleau, about 70km south of Paris. We picked it rather randomly - the road atlas was in Mike's bag, and Fontainbleau was the only place in the "Around Paris" section of the guide book that both looked interesting and didn't require us to drive through Paris to get there. But whatever, it was pretty. :)
From Bayeux, we headed East, and made it as far as Ypres, Belgium. This was, of course, the site of one of the big battles in WWI - the whole town was flattened, and had to be rebuilt. Not that you'd know it of course, because they did a beautiful job of reconstructing it in its original style. We got into town in the evening, about 6:30 or so.. just in time to check into the B&B and then head over to the Menin Gate, which is this big white arch/mausoleum that now serves as a memorial to the Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient area in WWI, but whose bodies were never found. There are 54,896 names carved into the walls of the gate. Every evening at 8pm they close the road that runs through the gate, and the buglers from the local fire station play "The Last Post" to commemorate all these lost souls.
Lieutenant-Governor of BC laid down a wreath on the night that we were there (I'm originally from BC, if you didn't already know).
The next day we took a tour of the Ypres Salient, taking in a good number of Commonwealth memorials and cemetaries. We also went to one of the larger German cemetaries in the area - this one in particular (on the left) is home to 40,000 German soldiers. The photo on the right is Tyne Cot Cemetery, just outside Passchendale, not far from Ypres. There is a monument here with the names of an additional 34,984 soldiers who died near Ypres Salient but whose bodies were never found. In the trees is the top of one of the German bunkers from during the war - many of the soldiers who fought to take this ridge were from the Tyne Side area, and they thought the bunkers looked like cottages on the sides of the Tyne - hence the name of the hill, and now the cemetery.
Delta Works project in the southwest of the Netherlands. We made it as far as Arras, France that night; we'd picked this town because of its proximity to Vimy Ridge, and the Canadian monument located there.
This memorial park is amazing. Typical Canadians, the planners of this park chose to leave much of the ground in the park untouched, aside from planting trees in the areas that used to be forrested pre-WWI. The result is that the land in the park retains most of the shell-craters and trench lines that were put there during the war.
under - each other's trenches. One means of attack was to burrow underneath the other side's trench (or tunnels, if possible - some of the mine tunnels were as much as 10 metres deep), and then plant mines beneath them. When the bomb went off, a giant crater was formed at the surface. I think they said that some of them are as much as 25 metres across.
From Vimy, we drove to Versailles. Unfortunately, we didn't read the guide book right, so we didn't notice that the Palace was closed on Mondays...
And then there was Paris... the first day in Paris was my birthday. I strongly recommend celebrating a birthday in Paris! :) We did so by climbing the Eiffle tower (695 stairs in total), wandering over to Hôtel des Invalides to see Napoleon's tomb (which we then opted out of), and then hopping the metro to Montmartre to wander about and buy some art.
The rest of the week was filled with the usual sights:
the Louvre on a rainy day
(it was crazy busy in there too - it seemed like many of them just walked through for the sake of checking it off a "must-see" list).
We also went to the Musée d'Orsay, the Bastille (k, where it used to be at least), Galleries Lafayette (where I bought shoes, of course!), and a half-dozen other places. It was such a busy few days, and by the end of it both of us had very sore feet! But it was so much fun too! :)
Finally it was all over and Mike had to go back to Canada while I flew back to Newcastle... so now its 6 weeks of work ahead of me till I go back to Canada in August.
Oh, and that little thing called Woolfest is coming up soon too, isn't it? :)