France/Belgium Road Trip: Trenches, Beaches, History, Charm
Husband Bill and I invited my son Cary and his partner Zhanna on a travels through the major European World War battlefields, in Belgium and France, ending 10 days later in Paris -- a road trip of charm and history.
First, we hear tips on road tripping, then we describe our trip. Right away we missed The Compiègne Wagon, the train carriage in which both the Armistices of both World Wars were signed. We also misdirected the GPS and wound up back at the airport! But we visited pretty Laon, and then drove up to Lille, “Capital des Flandre."
-- Next day, to Ypres in western Belgium. The Great War Museum in a former medieval cloth factory near the cathedral gives perspective. We followed the now serene battlefield circuit, once scenes of bloody warfare. At Ypres we attended the Last Post Ceremony, held every evening at the Menin Gate.
-- In Bruges, fairy-tale city in northwest Belgium, we stayed for dinner when crowds thinned. Next day to Amiens, in France. Nearby, the Battle of the Somme in 1916, was one of the largest of World War I, among the bloodiest in history. In Peronne, an excellent Museum of the Great War illustrated nearby battles.
-- In Rouen, where Joan D’Arc was burned at the stake, we lunched across the street at La Couronne, oldest inn in France, where Julia Child had her first French meal.
-- We strolled Honfleur harbor then drove to Bayeaux, near the Channel coast, famed for the 11th-century tapestry depicting the 1066 Norman invasion of England.
-- We spent a day experiencing the more recent invasion: moving sites of Omaha Beach, the American cemetery, the war museum, and surrounding gun batteries and remnants of D-Day.
-- We arrived at our favorite hotel after a crazy drive, and ended the trip in Paris.
-- And Cary adds a beautiful, meaningful, final memory!
Cary Lane is a professor, author, artist, museum curator and history buff.
Lea Lane blogs at forbes.com, has traveled to over 100 countries, written nine books, including Places I Remember, and contributed to guidebooks. She's @lealane on Twitter; Travelea on Insta; on Facebook, it's Places I Remember by Lea Lane. Her website: placesirememberlealane.com. Please follow, rate and review this weekly travel podcast!