Weekend Road-trip France 2017

February 3, 2018 at 15:34

Lily surfed my couch for a few days late August 2017. We took a small road-trip over the weekend: Black Forrest, Switzerland for a beer, France and back again. We stopped in Belfort for the night and I stayed in the Brit Hotel Belfort

Black Forrest

Calw
Calw

Calw
Calw

Freudenstadt
Freudenstadt

Movelier

Quick beer stop in Movelier
Quick beer stop in Movelier

OUI! for the potato!
OUI! for the potato!

Belfort

Decided to circle back to Germany over Belfort and Strasbourg. A quick search online and I found the Brit Hotel Belfort.

Brit Hotel Belfort

The Brit Hotel Belfort is conveniently located a few minutes outside of the city center. It was really clean and quite. The bed was comfortable and I enjoyed the hot shower after a refreshing night.

Brit Hotel Belfort
Brit Hotel Belfort

Brit Hotel Belfort

Brit Hotel Belfort

Brit Hotel Belfort

French Breakfast in Belfort
French Breakfast in Belfort at a small old café opposite the train station

Belfort train station
The Belfort train station opened its doors for travelers in 1858.

Belfort Trainstation
Belfort train station with clock tower

Colmar

Statue of Liberty in Colmar
Wait a minute – is this…

Sure enough!
Sure enough! A replica of the Statue of Liberty in Colmar. The sculptor Frédéric Auguste Barthold was born here. The French put it here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. Personally, I would put it somewhere to commemorate his birth or the 100th anniversary of the original in New York and not his death.

Strasbourg

On the way back to Stuttgart we had a few hours to walk a bit in the city. Since it was Sunday the city was packed with tourists. Here are a few pictures from the churches we visit.

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

The oldest part dates back to the 7th century. The church has been Lutheran since 1524 and its congregation forms part of the Protestant Church of Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine.

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Chapelle de la de la Congrégation des soeurs de la charitéSaint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune protestant

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune protestant

Strasbourg Cathedral

The French call it Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. Build on the place of Strasbourg’s previous cathedral dating back to the late 4th century or early 5th century. It was the tallest building in the world from 1647 on for 227 years!

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

The astronomical clock
The astronomical clock is more a computer than a clock. You should read more about it on Wikipedia

‎⁨Strasbourg
The Strasbourg Cathedral in the back

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A long Weekend in France – Part 2

December 9, 2017 at 16:57

Todays plan – a circle from Douaumont to Reims and Auberive after that over Souain-Perthes-lès-Hurlus to Sainte-Menehould. Visit a few more cemeteries and see some French country side.

Douaumont Ossuary

Douaumont Ossuary

A memorial build within the Verdun battlefields. It contains more than 130.000 fallen soldiers of the French and German side. In front of the memorial is a big graveyard with more fallen soldiers. The battle of Verdun was the longest in human history and lasted 303 days. In 2000 it was estimated that the battle took 714,231 soldiers. Recent estimates go up to 976.000 casualties during the battle with 1.250.000 suffered at Verdun in the first world war.
When you drive to the monument you pass trenches and smaller memorials. A whole village that was destroyed and not rebuild after the war. You drive through peaceful forest that was planted here in 1930 – still 100.000 missing soldiers under that forest. And every time they find the remains of one they bring them into the Douaumont Ossuary.

The largest single French military cemetery of the First World War with 16,142 graves.
The largest single French military cemetery of the First World War with 16,142 graves.

Muslim part of the grave yard
Muslim part of the grave yard

10 soldiers in one grave
10 soldiers in one grave

Grave

Douaumont Ossuary

At last 130.000 soldiers are buried under the building
At last 130.000 soldiers are buried under the building

All of them unidentified combatants of both nations
All of them unidentified combatants of both nations

Mitterrand and Kohl lay down wreaths 1984 in memory of the fallen soldiers
September 22nd 1984 the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (whose father had fought near Verdun) and French President François Mitterrand (who had been taken prisoner nearby in World War II), lay down wreathsin memory of the fallen soldiers. They where holding hands for several minutes in driving rain as a gesture of Franco-German reconciliation. And there are some mad monkeys that think Europe is a bad idea! This is the longest time we had no war with the French. In fact no war at all in the European Union since WW II.

Memorial for the Jewish soldiers
Memorial for the Jewish soldiers

Why could they not ask for German translation?? Forbidden lawn?? And even spelled wrong
Why could they not ask for German translation?? Forbidden lawn?? And even spelled wrong

La Pompelle Marker
This stones mark the furthes points the Germans reached during the 1918 offensives. This one in La Pompelle was paid for by the Mexican Association of War Veterans. 200 Mexicans fought in this sector!

Fort de Vaux

This was the second fort that fell into German hands after Fort Douaumont.

Flags over Fort Vaux
Flags over Fort Vaux

Memorial for Rayand's last pigeon
Memorial for Rayand's last pigeon

Hospital in Fort Vaux
Hospital in Fort Vaux

Canon in Fort Vaux
One of the Canons

Enough of the war for today!

Reims

Breakfast in France
Coffee break before we hit the city

Cathedral Notre Dame in Reims
Cathedral Notre Dame in Reims. The first church was build here in 401. In 816 the first King of France was crowned here. After that it was remodel, it burned down and rebuild a few times.

Cathedral Notre Dame
The main entrance in the front

Cathedral Notre Dame
A fire destroyed the towers in 1481

Cathedral Notre Dame
Inside the Cathedral. The 3 windows all the way in the end are designed by Marc Chagall

Cathedral Notre Dame
This is pretty amazing

Cathedral Notre Dame

Cathedral Notre Dame

Public library
Public library – one of the many Art Deco buildings in Reims. After the First World War 80 percent of the city was destroyed. So a lot of buildings where build in the 1020s. I have to go again next year and have a look!

Louis XV in front of the Place Royal
Louis XV in front of the Place Roya

What a nice house
What a nice house

500 years Jeanne D'Arc
500 years Jeanne D'Arc

Reims

The town hall in Reims
The town hall in Reims

Hôtel de Ville, Reims
Hôtel de Ville, Reims

Detail of the town hall
Detail of the town hall

A horse looks out of a wall
A horse looks out of a wall

Sube Fountain
Sube Fountain

A living wall
A living wall

Auberive

Road in Auberive
Road in Auberiv

French cemetry in the front - German one in the back
French national cemetery Le Bois du Puits

They put them 6 feet under head to head
They put them 6 feet under head to head – which is quite unusual

5359 German soldiers - 3124 that could not be identified were laid in an ossuary at the end of the grave yard
5359 German soldiers – 3124 that could not be identified were laid in an ossuary at the end of the grave yard

Book with the names - in case you want to find your great-grandfather
Book with the names – in case you want to find your great-grandfather

Name book

Now it looks quiet and peaceful
Now it looks quiet and peaceful

The clouds made the whole visit even more intense
The dramatic sky with the clouds made the visit even more intense

Flat land and a wide sky
Flat land and a wide sky

We drive to the next place
We drive to the next place

Souain-Perthes-les Hurlus

Souain War Cemetery - French side - more than 30.000 graves
La Crouée War Cemetery is the name of the French side – more than 30.000 graves

Under this stone are 11320 fallen German soldiers
Souain German War Cemetery is the name of the German side. Under this “Unknown soldiers” memorial are 11320 fallen German soldiers buried

Names and rang

Another 1900 graves on the German side of the grave yard
Another 1900 graves on the German side of the grave yard

The Jewish got different stones
The Jewish got different stones

The old stone with outdated information
The old stone with outdated information

 
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A long Weekend in France – Part 1

December 5, 2017 at 22:53

A few weeks after my short trip to the US I was very happy to go on a short trip to France for a few days. I had no exact plan only a hotel booked towards Bitche. When I saw a war monument from the first world war I had the idea to look a bit round the old battlefields. Visit some fortifications and grave yards. And so we did. If you plan this well you can go and explore this area for weeks but we only had a few days and no plan – so we only stopped at a few places – Bitche, Barst and Douaumont⁩.

But first we passed those cows. How can you not stop and pet them?? Somehow I like cows – not the fact that they contribute so much to global warming. (Livestock emissions make up anywhere between 14.5 and 18 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Comparably, the transportation sector is responsible for around 14 percent of emissions. And that was what we put out there in 2016 but now we learned that cow farts are even worse!! Researchers where off by as much as 10%!!!) So putting all that to the side we had to stop – good for you since you can look at them too – sorry – no touching for you!

Highland cow from Scotland
Highland cow from Scotland

Highland cow baby from Scotland
Highland cow baby from Scotland

The Bitche Citadel

Bitche was formed from the towns Rohr and Kaltenhausen in the 17th century. The name comes from an old stronghold (earliest mentions in 1172). The French constructed the citadel in 1624 – it was destroyed and rebuild and further fortified 1740. They did such a good job that the citadel was impregnable all the way into the 20th century.

Bitche citadel
Entrance to the fort

Bitche citadel'
Entrance to the fort

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Wall of the Bitche citadel
Wall of the Bitche citadel – they used the same red stone so it looks as if the citadel is growing gout of the rock.

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Bitche from the citadel
Bitche from the citadel

Lets move on!

Barst

Part of the Aquatic Maginot Line – Barst has a few bunkers and a anti-tank wagon. I did not know how important this one is – I did not even took a picture of it 🙁
Anyhow the Aquatic Maginot Line has the word Aqua in it because it was rather different from the other parts of the Maginot Line. It is at the river Saar border and if the Germans come you can flood the whole line of defense. This make it impossible or very difficult to pass with tanks and heavy weapons. And it would slow down an attack so the French could bring more troops to defend it.

Small graveyard in Barst
Small graveyard in Barst

Barst

Two bunkers in Barst at the Aquatic Maginot Line
Two bunkers in Barst at the Aquatic Maginot Line

View from a trench toward a bunker
View from a trench toward a bunker

Trenches
Trenches

Fort Douaumont

Much of the trench war in the first world war in this region was around Verdun. Verdun was protected by a ring of 19 forts. Douaumont was the biggest and the highest one. The French generals judged Douaumont ineffective after Germany took a few forts in Belgium very easy – with the help of the new 420mm Gamma howitzers. (A crazy super-heavy siege gun – you need to poor a bed of concrete to operate this monster) So they left it almost undefended. In February 1916 less than 100 Germans took the fort without a fight (only 3 days after the battle of Verdun started). One German climbed inside and opened a door. He captured a few man inside with only a bolt-action rifle – like in a bad American movie. Later more Germans arrived and not a single shoot was fired in the capture of the fort. It became an invulnerable shelter and operational base for German forces just behind their front line. The french army had to get the fort back which took 9 months and would cost the French army 100,000 lives.

The original plans of 1914
The original plans of 1914

155 mm Gun-Turret in Douaumont⁩
155 mm Gun-Turret

Machine-gun turret
Machine-gun turret

75mm Gun-Turret
75mm Gun-Turret – the gun was destroyed from a Gamma howitzer shell

Observation post
Observation post

Back of Fort Douaumont
Back of Fort Douaumont

Sleeping room
Sleeping room

Toilet
Toilet

The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret
The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret. Galopin Gun as the French call it. They build this one between 1907 and 1909. You can turn it 360 degrees and after you shoot you can lower it again to protect it. There are two counterweights to lift the 37.000 kilogram gun tower. You only need 3 men and 2 minutes to lift it 60 cm to its fire position. A grenade could cover up to 7,2 kilometers and weighted 43 kilogram.

The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret
The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret

Counter weight
One of the two counter weights

This place is huge
This place is huge

I see red wine!
I see red wine!

This could be the underground entrance
This could be the underground entrance

Washing room
Washing room

There is something growing here
There is something growing here

679 German soldiers are buried behind that wall
679 German soldiers are buried behind that wall. There was a fire that detonated grenades and flamethrower fuel. This killed hundreds instantly.

Enough of the war for today. Lets go to the hotel and have a glass of red wine as well.

 
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