9. May, 2016

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SATURDAY 07-05-16

We never learn do we? Today we were making for Oradour-sur-Glane just northwest of Limoges down the A20 motorway. First we had to clear the campsite by dumping everything we didn't want and taking on half a tank of fresh water, then paying for our three-night stay. We were hoping that the campsite manager would give us a three-for-two deal since one of those two nights was a living hell. But no, three nights at about £10 a night, pretty cheap really, but could have been so much better.

We then made our way to the other end of the village where we purchased two, ten-litre boxes of our favourite red wine, from our little man who makes it. We've only ever seen cows in sheds on his farm and never the vineyards, but must assume that since we saw vineyards on our walk yesterday he must have some somewhere, either that or he's mastered the art of producing tasty red wine from cow pats, and if so , hats off to him.

After our visit to buy the wine we crossed the Loire to pop in to the  'Super U' supermarket in Mer. More bits purchased and a re-fill of the fuel tank at about eighty pence a litre.

Trying to be frugal we thought that we'd cut across country to Vierzon, toll free, travelling just one side of a three-sided triangle, the other two being toll roads. Well it looked just fine and dandy on a road map but in reality it was a nightmare. We had about 150 miles to travel today and because we'd tried to avoid paying toll fees, the first 50 miles or so took us about two hours to cover. We were now way behind schedule, and so once we joined the toll-free motorway at Vierzon heading south, I put my foot down. I was concerned that, according to the guide books the village memorial at Oradour-sur-Glane closed at 17:00, and at our current rate of progress we'd only have about 90 minutes to look around.

We arrived at about 15:30, parked up (GPS: N45.931155º E1.034670º)and grabbed the cameras. Soon after entering the village through the new modern entrance building I realised that in our haste I had left behind the wide angle lens for the video camera. Really annoying, but since they closed at 17:00 I didn't have time to go back and get it.

So there we were, and if you're not familiar with the place, here's a bit about Oradour-sur-Glane.

The village stands just as the two hundred SS soldiers left it on June 10th 1944, after killing 642 of the inhabitants in reprisal for attacks by French maquisards (no I don't know either and I don't have a French dictionary) . On arriving, the SS took the men of the village to various barns around the village where they opened fire with machine guns, deliberately aiming low to wound rather than kill, before setting the barns alight, burning them alive. Only six men escaped, one of whom was shot dead shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, five hundred women and children were shepherded into the church, where a gas bomb was set off  - when this failed to get the desired result, the soldiers let loose with machine guns and grenades, before setting the church, and thus the women and children, on fire followed by the rest of the village. On that day, within a few hours the SS slaughtered 642 villagers, 500 of whom were women and children. After the war General Charles De Gaulle ordered that the village be left exactly as it was found  as a monument to the barbarity of war.

We left just on 17:00 but people were still arriving and so we had to assume the monument was staying open later as it was a National Holiday weekend (a Bank Holiday to you and I, but in France it's the days they're not on strike over something or other).

The car park is also the village and so we are parked here for the night free of charge. This evening we have dined on a ham salad with a new Rosé wine we purchased at the Carrefour supermarket back in Calais. This one shows some promise as it doesn't appear to remove the enamel from ones teeth.