We hit the road on our 438km odyssey to our next digs - an 11th century castle in the Lorraine region near the border with Luxembourg - but more about that later.
We did more war-ry stuff, stopping off in Le Quesnoy, a fortified town that NZ soldiers liberated after 4 years of occupation in 1918... naturally, the people there were pretty stoked by this and are quite fond of kiwis; there are several streets named after NZ, Avenue des Neo-Zelandais, Rue de Nouvelle Zelande, Rue de Waikato and Rue de Cambridge... as well as a Square they re-named Place de All Blacks! It was so nice to see bits of home when we're so far away, although certainly not what we expected to find in rural northern France!
Bonus find in Le Quesnoy: Asterix, in French, in the supermarket... for €5! Hooray!
We embarked on a walking tour (again in the bloody rain - grrr) which was a bit of a task in map-reading and patience on Kent's behalf, but it took us around the town's fortifications, which date back to Napoleonic times, and to some of the memorials to the New Zealand troops... and past the biggest Maori fulla you have ever seen (check the photos below and you'll see what we mean!)
Back in the car, and onto the toll motorway... €20 poorer and several hours later we arrived at the castle in Jaulny, thanks to the magic of TomTom... there is NO way we'd have managed navigation without it.
Again we had a lovely host, Anna (who spoke great English, which was a godsend, as my French doesn't stretch much further than the standard yes, no, thank you and hello... and Kent's is virtually non-existent), whose family has owned the castle since the middle of the 1800s. Some of the castle is a museum, with full suits of armour, a summons to war (in French, obviously) and so many priceless treasures - and they actually belong to her and her family!
Her loveliness just proved that the reputation the French have for being rude is clearly unfounded, I suspect it might be the English habit of refusing to learn or even try to speak the local lingo and just speaking slower and yelling that might evoke this legendary attitude, but we saw none of it from anyone; they even smilingly put up with our pidgin attempts at speaking French. The language thing does sometimes cause a few crossed wires - a great example: after Anna suggested to us that we visit "Noh-See" the next day... we were stumped, until I asked her to write it for us, and found that it was Nancy... which immediately led me to think of 'Allo, Allo', as I'm pretty sure I remember a scene where Rene tells someone both he and his brother were "Nancy Boys". She said the city was beautiful, and very special, and she wasn't exaggerating... very European, with a large square and gorgeous architecture, beautiful park etc etc etc...
On our way back we checked out Pont-A-Mousson (about 20mins from Jaulny), yet another beautiful town... there are just so many of them around!