France Part 6 - The Cost of War

Saturday and it was time to hitch up the old girl again - and in case you’ve come to the blog late I aint talking about the mother-in-law but our caravan - as we continued our trip around France.

We were heading south and east - so away from the coast - and into what we know as the Dordogne region and roughly equivalent to the what the French call Perigord. They should know I suppose. Anyway, to ensure there were no nasty surprises I checked the route suggested by the sat-nav app step by step with the road map prior and all looked good.DSC_0040

And indeed it was. Soon the landscape was changing from the flatlands we had become used to. The road started to undulate gently and there was a noticeable change in the crops too. The sunflowers and maize was slowly being replaced by grapevines. Lovely, grapes are a fruit I guess so count towards your five a day don’t they?

They’d soon disappeared though, to be replaced by trees as we entered the Dordogne - sorry, Perigord region. The sat-nav took us as far as the village of Augignac, then we followed the instructions from the site for the last few miles, the road which seemed to on for ages but was in fact only a couple of miles and we were soon turning into the site - called Manzac Ferme. The journey of 146 miles took around 4 hours, with Rosie returning a credible 28mpg and bringing our total mileage covered since leaving Dieppe to 1380, although Patsy has only covered 546.

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Well, firstly it was one of the friendliest welcomes we’ve received - both from the site owners Georges & Margaret and fellow caravanners. Georges help us position the van on the pitch - It would have gone in easy long ways but made far more sense to go side on - as everyone else had - to make the most of the lovely view. We were extremely grateful - as ever for the motor mover. We got the legs down, the mains hooked up then were given a tour of the site and facilities.

I said firstly earlier. Secondly, this site is a VERY pretty site, possibly one of the prettiest we’ve been on and certainly our favourite in France so far. As you will see from the photo’s caravans sit on the hard standing area, almost like a terrace, and down the slope amongst the trees is the tent area. There are just six pitches for caravans and a similar number for tents. It’s a very friendly, cosy site and very peaceful. Moreover, the facilities look immaculate. And the sun was out!

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Our neighbours introduced themselves - Peter & Robert - a lovely couple who have been together for over fifty years and are on their eighth visit to Manzac Ferme and clearly love it.

There was a quick foray to the Supermarket in Nontron about 10 minutes away to get our fix - bread that is. Oh and some wine too. Got to keep the fruit intake up. Dinner was BBQ’d - and cremated - and we spent a pleasant evening under the canopy chatting to our neighbours.

Well, it couldn’t last could it? Cloudy and and at times wet for most of the Sunday meant I had little excuse not to catch up with the blog. WiFi is provided - free once again - and much better than at the last site meaning no trip out in search of a signal. We did little in the afternoon except laze around and discover that the facilities ARE immaculate - and the showers just divine.

As usual we’d done very little research on the area - so was grateful for the information provided by Margaret & Georges on things to see and do. We decided to start with the furthest away and that was the village of Oradour-sur-Glane some forty or so miles north east. World War Two historians may already have heard of it but for the rest it has a very grim past. Briefly, on 10th June 1944 the Waffen SS  surrounded the village and rounded up everyone - the men into various buildings around the village and the women and children into the church. Machine guns were already in place. The men were shot, doused in accelerant and the buildings set on fire. A smoke bomb was let off in the church and the woman and children were slaughtered as they tried to escape. Corpses were burnt so they couldn't be identified and the whole village was set alight. In all 642 were massacred on that day. Very few survived. It seems that the atrocity was carried out just to ‘make a point’. The invasion at Normandy happened just four days earlier and Hitler's grip on France was clearly weakening.

It was decided that the village should remain just as it was left after that night - and indeed it does. A new village was built along side to the same layout in the fifties.

The above is a very brief explanation of what happened, but the visitors centre gives you much much more, including the rise of Nazism, the occupation of France and attempts to find reasons behind the actions that day, as well as the events following. The displays have English translations and an audio guide is available to rent for just a couple Euro’s. While you don’t have to do the exhibition and can walk straight through to the village, unless you are fully conversant with it’s history, it’s well worth it.

The village itself? Well, peaceful although the mind wanders and tries to imagine what it was like that day. Everyone was respectful and spoke quietly and softly as they walked around, trying to take it all in.

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The new village adjacent was the obvious place to go for lunch and we had a quick look around before the drive back to the site.

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If you find yourself in this neck of the woods I can’t recommend this highly enough. It will fascinate you, shock you, and make you sad and angry too.

For further information:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane

http://www.oradour.org/en

http://www.oradour.info/

Another couple of videos for you:

Manzac Ferme Campsite

Oradour-sur-Glane

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