The Big Trip, Day 4: Toulouse – a Tale of Two Cities

Distance covered today: 198 miles

Total distance covered: 806 miles

This is my lengthiest single stretch of drive so far, and it takes me to the biggest place i’ve yet visited – Toulouse, capital of the Occitanie region in southern France. Far more so than Orleans or Rouen, Toulouse seems like a proper city; the 4th largest in France, according to Wikipedia. You can tell even before you reach the place. The wide, multi-lane highways with their attendant malls and car showrooms remind me of nothing so much as driving into Los Angeles. Continue reading “The Big Trip, Day 4: Toulouse – a Tale of Two Cities”

The Big Trip, Day 3: Oradour sur Glane – Souviens Toi

“Down this road, on a summer day in 1944, the soldiers came. Nobody lives here now.”

Distance covered today: 175 miles

Total distance covered: 608 miles

I first heard about Oradour-sur-Glane when I was 16 years old. It was when BBC2 were repeating the classic 1973 documentary The World at War, which I’d never seen till then. Episode 1 opens with a montage of the village, left empty since all 642 inhabitants (bar one) were murdered on 10 June 1944 by 200 Waffen SS troopers, on the pretext of reprisals for a kidnapped German officer, and the village razed to the ground by fire.

Oradour has been left empty since. The village was rebuilt nearby, but the original left as a memorial to the horrors men can inflict on each other. The ruins are as they were when the fires died down, frozen in time and aged 74 years.  Continue reading “The Big Trip, Day 3: Oradour sur Glane – Souviens Toi”

The Big Trip, Day 2, later: Made of Orleans

Distance covered today: 130 miles

Total distance so far: 433 miles

I like this blogging from anywhere lark. I’m currently sitting in L’Hendrix Pub in Orleans, having finally found a good bar to drink in. There’s Mahalia Jackson on the jukebox, and a minute ago it was BB King. Continue reading “The Big Trip, Day 2, later: Made of Orleans”

The Big Trip, Day 2, morning: around Rouen

I was up quite late writing the last blog post, so I wake up correspodingly late. Well, 8:30, anyway. Which is of course 7:30 back in England (till this weekend anyway). Confusing.

It’s chilly in the van – 8.5 degrees C according to the thermostat. But I know I can’t get any gas refills on the continent (no international standard), so rather than waste any on heating I snuggle under the duvet for a brief lie in.  Continue reading “The Big Trip, Day 2, morning: around Rouen”

The Big Trip, Day 1: Long Road to Rouen

Today’s mileage: 303 miles.

Yes, I couldn’t resist calling it that. It has been a bloody long day though, with most of it spent driving and the rest sort of… hanging around. Lots of new exciting experiences though, the most interesting of which was the Eurotunnel.   Continue reading “The Big Trip, Day 1: Long Road to Rouen”