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Flag of France  , Picardy,
Monday, September 10, 2012

An early start saw us on the Eurostar to France. We disembarked at Lille very close to the Belgian border.We wandered around the city for awhile. Again many beautiful builidngs, this time Flemish style. As in many of European cities we have visited the roads are narrow and winding. Sometimes you don't even realise you are on a road until you nearly get taken out by a car. We had lunch at a very nice restaurant, L'assiette du Marche, which we stumbled on. We both started with the rabbit terrine, John had sea perch and I had guinea fowl.
There were many shops selling designer goods and delicious looking patisseries. I couldn't resist buying an eclair. Many of the shops seemed boarded up and we felt we were seeing for the first time some signs of the recession - interestingly in France and not so much in Spain.

After lunch we picked up a car and headed for the Somme. First stop was Fromelles, the site of one of many disastrous battles in this area. We visited the new cemetery, Fromelles Military Cemetery, which has been built to accommodate the remains of those soldiers who were discovered in a mass grave in 2008. Many of them have been identified but many still have not. It was very moving. Down the road was the Fromelles Memorial Park, with a statue depicting a soldier carrying another over his shoulder, called 'Cobbers'. This in reference to the fact that after the initial onslaught many of the Australian soldiers lay wounded in no-mans land and those that had successfully retreated behind prebattle lines made heroic acts to try and resuce as many of the wounded as they could.

Amazing as it might seem, as we got out of the car at the memorial, I noticed another couple of, I presumed, Australians, as they had been at the previous site as well. When I took a closer look, the woman was Cherie Kearns from Northbridge Golf Club! Small world.

Finally we visited the VC Corner Australian Cemetery where there are no individual graves because none of the soldiers here have been identified.

We now set out for Amiens where we were staying the night. As we drove along we passed more and more graveyards, all similar, cross after cross. The French are obvioulsy very grateful to those soldiers from foreign lands that came to fight for them. Before we reached Amiens we stopped at Arras. An interesting old town again showing the signs of the recession. We decided to boost their economy so we had a beer in one of the bars that surround the petit place, the smaller of two large Flemish style squares

In Amiens we stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by a very vivacious French woman called Dominique. She spoke enough English and was very hospitable. We went into the town for dinner at Restaurant Le Quai which is located along the river Somme. We sat outside and enjoyed the ambience but not the cigarette smoke, which you just can't seem to get away from. I ordered the most expensive thing we have had the whole holiday, fillet steak. It was terrible! John had some weird jellied meat thing called 'pojvestroom' we think. We can't remember what we had for an entree.

When we returned to the B & B, there was a group of business men from all over the Europe and Dominque, sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine and of course a cigarette. We joined them in the wine.
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