So - there you are, enjoying blatting along excellent roads, running along the tops of hills with great sweeps of visible tarmac, amazing views and no traffic. You come round a corner and WHAM - a sudden dose of reality and history brings us down to earth with a bump. A French National Monument situated at the Nazi Concentration Camp at Struthof.
The camp seemed to be pretty much as it had been in the war. Set in a beautiful location it overlooked the surrounding hills - making it even more poignant.
The camp was used to hold Resistance and political prisoners. We did not actually go inside the camp, but from what we can gather hard labour was certainly practiced in a nearby quarry, which was also used by the firing squad.
A soaring curved wall towered above the site, along with a huge flagpole. No doubt this can be seen from miles around. We were deep in the country side, south west of Strasbourg.
A huge carved figure towers up the inside wall of the monument. The shape is recognizable as that of one of the skelatal figures who were found in these places.
At the bottom of the camp there remained the chilling sight of a chimney - a visible sign of the ovens in the building within.
As you would expect it was a very moving place. It has the ability to bring you right down to earth and realize that as we drive around Europe on our leisure trip seeing all sorts of things, amazing places and meeting lots of people from all over the world, there are some little patches of Europe that have seen more and experienced more history that we will ever see, however far we drive.
It is a cliche and hard to explain, but there was definitely a sense of evil here and in the surrounding area - we moved on fairly quickly, having no desire to stay in the region.
From here we headed west into the Lorraine region of France and then turned north, clipping Germany and heading into Luxembourg. As soon as you cross into Luxembourg you suddenly notice that there are whole streets and roads with nothing but petrol stations all along them. Petrol is cheaper than anywhere else in Europe here, along with alcohol and cigarettes, and there are queues at every one!
With our large scale map we were able to keep off the autoroutes and stick to the little roads. Here we pass under a flyover carrying the motorway.
Time for some arty 'up-shots' - a favorite of mine. I have similar shots looking up Pyramids, ancient monuments, skyscrapers and other bridges from all over the world...
...some day I will sort them out and pop them in a gallery!
Sun going down in the Luxembourg countryside.
Evening light leads to great pictures.
From Luxembourg on into Belgium and the Ardennes.
American Monument just outside the town of Bastogne - a critical location in the story of the Liberation of Europe after the Normandy Landings.
Just sort of caught my eye as we drove past...
More camping Caterham style - this time in the Belgian Ardennes near Montherme.
Note the knickers on the headlights, and the melon on the rear light!
From Belgium we carried on West back into France and aimed for the coast. We had intended to spend the last few days before our Boulogne ferry at our favorite Montreuil B&B, but as she was full up for a day or two, we stayed at the small town of St Valery-sur -Somme.
St Valery sits at the mouth of the Somme estuary.
Sunset over the sand flats.
We cheat when it comes to washing the car on holiday - we use the jet-wash stations that can be found outside every French town!
Final bottle of rose while watching the sunset at St Valery.
Our last night in France was a Sunday night - and it just so happened that on that Sunday there was the monthly Essay Libre (free test day) at Croix en Ternoise. Ok - so we had no tyres left, and virtually useless brakes, but it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity to end the holiday as we had started - on track!
So we paid for a half day and did the afternoon session at Croix. here you can see the sort of mix that can be found on such days.
As usual we went out with the single seater sessions. Not sure what these bike engined things were - corporate entertainment I think - but they sure got in the way!
Each time we go to Croix we meet up with old friends we have met on previous trips. This is the Modus of our French friend from Lille who we have met a few times.
On this trip he was kind enough to give us a number of litres of Mobil 1 which we needed to pop in the our engine. Unfortunately his engine let go near the end of the day - terminally as you can see. The con-rod has torn a hole from top to bottom of the block. He is confident that he will be back very soon! Our tire/brake situation meant we were unable to go for quick laps, so an adjustment in driving style allowed us to play and properly explore our new LSD handling, perfecting those sweeping slides around the relatively slow Croix 180° corners!
Phew - only one more pack - trying to get all this back in the boot of the car.
Speedferries.com were very good - they understood that the car was low and paid special attention to loading and to where we were parked on the ferry. At £65 for a summer open return, we shall certainly use them again!
Leaving Boulogne at the end of our trip.
Two of the four water jets that power the Speedferries catermaran across the channel to Dover in 50 minutes. Well - that is the theory, but on our trip the other two jets gave up - leading to a slightly longer crossing - but free drinks!
Approaching Dover in heavy fog.
Our own little place on the ferry away from other cars and steep ramps.
Strapping in for the last time - ready to hit the M25 - hurray.
So - the end of another trip. 2800 miles in 3 weeks, including a day at Le Mans Bugatti and half a day at Croix en Ternoise. We went through France, into Switzerland, back into France, across into Germany, France again, Luxembourg, Belgium and then finally back to France. We had one afternoon of rain and the car gave us no problems whatsoever, apart from finishing some brake pads at Le Mans.
And finally - on getting home we discovered we had lost our house keys!! Peter C had been house-sitting for us and had posted our spare keys through the letterbox. Luckily we got into the back garden. Here we found another use for a pile of well used AO 48's - a tower enabled me to get on the roof, pop my hand through a small open window, open a larger window and climb through!!