Archive for Somme

Somme graves

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on April 9, 2016 by xi'an

As mentioned in a previous post, we ended up spending Easter break in the Somme, close to the part of the Western Front that opposed German and Franco-British armies  between 1914 and 1918, with horrendous human losses: the first day alone of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 saw around 60,000 British casualties! For a final gain of less than 10 kilometres… And a total number of dead close to a million. Unsurprisingly, the area is speckled with war cemeteries and memorials. Including an Australian National Memorial which commemorates the 16,000 Australian dead during World War I, including 11,000 with unmarked graves.  As for the cemeteries near the D-day beaches, I am always deeply moved when visiting war cemeteries, uncomprehending the waste of innumerable live of young men by military stratèges unable to adapt to new forms of warfare and throwing waves of foot soldiers against impregnable machine gun nests.

When running this weekend in the quiet and green Somme countryside, surprising a young deer which fled across the immense plain, with only a few bare thickets here and there, I was also wondering at how hellish was the place a hundred years ago, at how unworldly it should have looked to the entrenched soldiers, and whether or not any of this region had kept anything in common with the pre-war era, since entire villages were more than flattened, as shown by the picture of Guillemont below…

snapshot from Amiens [#2]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2016 by xi'an

main entrance to the cathedral of Amiens, France, March 27, 2016

church comics

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2016 by xi'an

During Easter break, a last minute airbnb reservation led us to visit the cathedral of Amiens (in North-East France, near the Battle of the Somme front) with its (42m) soaring ceilings and its immense nave. The central choir is surrounded by an ambulatory with niches of intricate polychrome sculptures of stories of saints that look like 3D-comics. Similar to those Jim and I already spotted in the cathedral of Chartres! In Amiens, there were several of them, including a vivid representation of the life and afterlife of Saint Fermin. (With an exhumation of his body (below) worth the visit by itself: the priest using the spade is so much into it!) As well as a life of John the Baptist, whose head was supposed to have ended up in the cathedral…

snapshot from Amiens [#1]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2016 by xi'an