Nord-Pas-de-Calais and WWI
Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
13Trip End Aug 17, 2009
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We swung through L'Havre, which I found to be a very modern looking city compared to what I had been seeing. To break the monotony of driving, we stopped in L’Etreat to check out the white chalk cliffs. The town was packed, as it is a main tourist town. We stayed long enough to walk on the beach, view the interesting looking cliffs and take some pictures. The weather was rainy, so not much point in sticking around. Back on the road, chatting and looking at the sites, picking up radio stations from England!
Stop number two, which was of much more significance to us, was Dieppe
We headed off in the direction of Arras, first on the D925, then the D928 shortly after Abbeville. The sun came out at some point during our drive. We landed in Anzin-Saint-Aubin, which is just slightly north-west of Arras town center. Our hotel that we booked online the night before, Hotel Golf D’Arras, was great for us. Central to the sites we were interested in seeing; quiet, clean, wifi, simple!
It was well into the afternoon, so we relaxed a bit and headed into Arras
Seeing Vimy Ridge for the first time is hard to describe. This is where Canada became more than just a colony; she stood on her own here. Vimy Ridge felt like Canada to me…what a strange feeling. The architecture of the memorial is breathtaking, beyond a doubt, regardless of what it stands for, and we were lucky enough to be there just two years after a major renovation. A couple years before, I was at the War Museum in Ottawa and saw the plaster "practice molds" by Architect Walter Allward from 80 years ago. I am so fortunate to have seen this monument in person, to be there, it was a memorable moment in my life. Then seeing the craters all around the monument, still visible nearly 100 years later, you wonder what this place would really have looked like in 1917
We got some really nice photos of the monument, in the early evening light. We thought it would be nice to see it in the dark, so we quickly went back to our hotel for a sweater and flashlight, and got back just as the sun had set. There were still some people around, well after it had turned dark and we talked to a Canadian student for awhile, who was backpacking through Europe...one of those unexpected travel moments.
This ends our first day in Nord-de-Pas-Calais. The next day, it would be back to Vimy Ridge and other important Canadian battlefields.