Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Beauty Of Angles-sur-l'Anglin And The Horror Of Oradour

   Our first stop of the morning of June 21 was the village of  Angles-sur-l'Anglin for a coffee break and a view of the ruins of an 11th century castle originally constructed for the Bishop of Poitiers.  

The village and the ruins are on the banks of the l'Anglin River.

The gang, sans moi.

Carole, you are shooting from the wrong angle.

Some antiquities of another kind.  I love the look of the old 2CV Citroens.

Looking down on the village from atop the ruins.

A closer view of the ruined chateau.

The old chapel.

Getting ready to depart Angles-sur-l'Anglin.

Oradour-sur-Glane: The Martyr Village

   From the beautiful to the ugly, Laurent led us from Angles-sur-l'Anglin to Oradour-sur-Glane, site of the massacre of 642 villagers by Nazi troops on June 10, 1944, four days after D-Day.  The entire village population was wiped out that day, save for one woman who escaped from the church before it was burned, by jumping from a window. The dead included 193 children. You can read a more detailed account of the massacre here.

   The sign below says, "Here some men offended their mothers and all the women in the worst manner: they didn't spare the children."

   The French government, much to their credit, and by order of then President Charles DeGaulle, declared that the village should not be rebuilt, but should be maintained and preserved exactly as found after the massacre as a national memorial to those who died there.  It is a very sobering experience to walk among the ruins and to read the plaques installed beside the doors of the burned-out buildings.  They tell what the shops were and who lived and worked there.

   The plaque on this wall tells us that this was a bakery operated by L. Bouchoule.  The tale is told that the invaders burned Messr. Bouchoule in his own oven.

This was a garage operated by H. Desorteaux.

The main intersection of the village.  The power poles were made of concrete and are still standing.

   This must have been a tailor or dress shop. There were a surpising number of Singer sewing machines scattered among the ruins.

 The village church where the women and children were herded and then set afire.

The plaque on the wall of the church says, "Here hundreds of women and children were massacred by the Nazis.  Go to make a prayer for the victims and their families."

The only person to survive the massacre, Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, reportedly jumped from the lower right sacristry window and managed to hide in some bushes until being rescued the next day.
Another woman and child jumped with her, but were shot and killed by the Nazis.

The remains of the church bell.

The female figure atop this memorial statue is not giving thanks to God...rather, she is crying out to the heavens in anguish over the senseless massacre of the women and children of the village.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chinon To Loches

    It's noon in Lake Lure.  Rain is beginning to fall again. I have a Boston Butt on the new smoker on the deck just outside the door, so I can't go far or get involved in much of anything else, so I think I will get back to posting about our riding tour of France. It has been a month since I last posted.  I got busy with projects like installing a new boat lift, and time has flown.  Now it's time to get back to telling the tale. If I don't do it soon, I won't be able to remember. That seems to be a frequent problem these days, and that is why I have this new bumper sticker on my bike.  Thank God for digital pictures and videos with date stamps.

    Thursday morning, June 20th, we meandered around the Loire Valley not far from Chinon, visiting some famous castles including Chateau Usse, known as the Fairy-Tale Cinderella castle,  and Chateau de Langeais, first built in 992, destroyed in the Hundred Years' War, rebuilt again in 1465, and best known as the site of the wedding of Anne of Brittany to King Charles VIII in 1491.

Chateau Usse, The Cinderella Castle

Chateau de Langeais

    We paused for cafe au lait at a patisserie in front of Chateau de Langeais,  and had this selection of delights  to choose from to go with  the coffee, typical of what we found in little villages all over France. I don't know how all French people don't weigh over 300 pounds, being surrounded on all sides by temptations like this.

   Below is a Google satellite view of the Hotel Chateau d'Artigny near the town of Montbazon, not too far from Tours in the Loire Valley.  According to Laurent, this is one of the most expensive hotels in all France. He inadvertently forgot to book us rooms there, so he took us up to the entrance so we could see what we missed.

The hotel.

Our destination for the night was Loches where we would rendezvous with Carole at the Hotel de France.

The Hotel de France in Loches is an old hotel with lovely spacious rooms.  This is the view of the courtyard from our room.

Carole arrived from Tours in the late afternoon.  From his expression, I think Laurent was happy to see her.

The view from our room after sunset.

I wonder what's behind the green door. I'm not telling...maybe Penny will.

   After dinner, we made the climb up to the Chateau de Loches, perched above the town, built for and used by Henry II of England and his son Richard The Lionheart during the 12th century.  The compound includes the ancient Church of Saint-Ours which grew from a 500 AD monastery founded by St. Ours himself.

   Tomorrow will be a day of delight and horror.