Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin' on such a winter's day

Now that I have got you reading, time for the story

Around five years ago, I was reading Motor Cycle News, and it told a story of three guys riding through France and they came across a village that had been left as a living memorial. It seemed like the type of place that was waiting to be explored by Lucy and myself. Many times we both trawled the Ryanair website, in search of a cheap flight, but they never suited us, either the times were crap or the price was higher that the 40 return for two people. Remember, I am tight you know !!! Eventually, Ryanair worked in our favour, and we bought the two tickets, so this weekend, we are off to see Oradour-Sur-Glane

Normally when going to Oradour-Sur-Glane, you would fly to Limoges, but the cheap tickets that we bought meant we would fly to Poitiers, hire a car and drive 120K's. Maybe some of you are thinking that this is more expensive, well not really, because if we had flown to Limoges, we would have hired a car anyway.


As this was a Ryanair flight, it meant getting up in the early hours and driving to the airport. Two hours of sleep, we were in the Golf on our way. We checked in and walked through customs. 1.5 hours later, we were being herded onto the plane. I managed to get some sleep and was awoken by an announcement from the Captain. Apparently, we were stuck in a holding pattern as there was fog everywhere and instead, we would fly 15 minutes down the road to Limoges !!! Bargain. Once off the plane, we went into Hertz's office and explained our predicament. It was all ok. The guy gave us a car, and 16 K's up the road, we arrived at Oradour-Sur-Glane. Parked the car, went into the visitors centre and saw another story about WW2. Seen loads of these over the years so it was nothing new, but the part about Oradour was. We were given no reason, but on the 10th of June, 1944 or in real time, 10/06/44, an SS Garrison, surrounded the town, and moved in, pushing everyone into the centre. The women were removed and placed into a church, the men were put into three different buildings. Machine guns were set up, and the SS systematically began to group execute the men. The women in the church, had an incendiary bomb set off. Whilst it was on fire, the SS came in and started to shoot them. Amazingly, two women escaped through a stained glass window. Only one survived. Five men survived the massacre as well. All told, 642 people were killed on that day. The village was set on fire. The bodies were burnt and that was the end of the original Oradour-Sur-Glane. What is left is a reminder to the world of that day. After we finished the museum, we walked into the village. There were still old power lines up., Tram tracks, awaiting for the next tram, even a little station. No noise anywhere. Rusting bodies of cars were left lying about. Practically every house had a sewing machine. It was eerie. A real ghost town. We walked around all the streets, before we came to the church. Having been to 100's of churches over the years, I was ready for this, or so I thought. Upon entering, you could feel the sadness that had taken place all those years ago. Women and children screaming, as we walked over the ground, where they had fallen. You can only take so much before you have to leave, so we took one last long walk through the village, and then exited back through the museum. Jumped back into the car and went off to our next port of call

We drove until we came across a little area that was full of churches and old houses. Yes, they are all over France, but in Uzerche, the majority of them have turrets like on a castle. At the top was a huge old house that could have passed as a castle, and beside it was the Church of Notre Dame. This to had turrets. Walking around the village was nice. No tourists, well, except us !!! We finished here and off we went again, this time by coincidence, following the Richard the Lion Heart tour. Didn't know he had been here, but it took us through some lovely countryside. At Pompadour, there was another huge chateau that Richard had apparently lived in. We were up for a tour, but we were to late, so we hit the road again and our final stop for the day was in Solignac. Here was a 75 metre long granite church. It was famous because it is used as a stop over on the pilgrim's route to Santiago de Campostello. There is also a 15th century fresco of St Christophe

I was going to drink beer, but considering this is France, and they were wanting to charge 4.80 Euro for 250 ml, I decided to give beer the flick and drink red wine. Much easier solution

In the morning, no hangover, so we headed off in the direction of Saintes. It was a long drive, and considering I only had a couple of hours sleep on Friday, I was still felling pretty messy. Along the way, I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. I decided to give the car to Lucy, which is pretty scary in itself. She has only driven a left hand drive car once, and I wasn't looking forward to it. I tried to sleep, but it didn't work. I was actually shitting myself. Upon arrival, it doesn't matter what side the steering wheel is on, Lucy doesn't cope with driving on the wrong side of the road, so I took over. We were here to find a Roman Amphitheatre. We found a sign, followed it, and then we were there. We had a look around the outside and found that it was closed. From a distance, it was pretty messy, but kind of like the one in Triar. Grass growing over it, with one big arch. We took the obligatory photos, and went looking for the Roman baths. After much cursing as we drove around the small streets, we found them. Normally, we would do a Tony Robinson from Time Team, and go, "Look, that is where the fires were lit, and there are the steam rooms and baths and stuff", but there was nothing there. We exited, stage left, very quickly. Back into town, we walked around the local produce markets. It is such a downer that the laws are so fucked up now because it would have been good to bring back some cheese !!! Back into the car, we hit a paying expressway as we were now on our way to Poitiers. Once again I died. Nearly falling asleep at the wheel at 150 Kph is not the smartest thing to do, and as we were on an expressway, I handed the car back to Lucy, under the proviso, as soon as we went through the pay booths, she would pull over and hand the car back to me. 66 K's passed by very quickly especially when you are going 150 Kph !!! She paid, and I drove into Poitiers. Parking the car up, we walked up to the Church of Notre Dame. Inside are some frescoes from the 15th century. They are pretty good condition. It was pretty nice. Outside, the front of the church was some pretty amazing carvings. It was also the hangout of all the local ferals. Kind of took a little bit of it away. We walked down to the Cathedral of St Pierre. It was huge !!! Very impressive carvings outside and inside was some pretty good stain glass windows dating back to the 12th century. They say that these are the oldest in France. Across the road was an old church dating back to Roman times. It had some ok frescoes inside as well. The day was winding up, and we made our way back to the car, as we had to catch a flight back to London


It had been good to finally make it to Oradour-Sur-Glane. Pretty heavy, but I am glad I have been. The rest of the time flew by, I think before I do another one of these in two weeks, I really need to sleep leading up to the flight !!! Note to self. Get more sleep
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