Driving towards Paris we once again experience amazing hospitality . . . . this time in France!! In the historic town of Le Cateau-Cambresis, 230km NE of Paris, we overnight in a free aire. The friendly tourisme office sends us off with a list of things to do & discover.
This was the hometown of Henri Matisse and we enjoy time in the Matisse Museum. It is housed in a small 17th century castle and displays 170 works of his, including his first paintings.
This town suffered greatly during World War One (we will not call it “the great war” – there was nothing great about it except the death toll!!). The famous British war poet “Wilfred Owen” died in action aged 25 yrs, on the banks of the sombre canal in 1918 – one week before the Armistice was signed!!. His poetry conveyed powerfully the horrors of war.
We rode our bikes through the muddy forest retracing his footsteps. There is a contemporary structure, The Wilfred Owen Forest House dedicated to him. His “Anthem for doomed Youth”, “Futility” are amongst the many poems in which he recounted the fate of the soldier in war . . . horrors of fighting and mass killings.
It was only after the war (& his death) that Owen’s genius gained the recognition it deserved.
In the village of Le Cateau – Cambresis, we met a local Frenchman, Jean-Marie Faugeroux, who is passionate about his town and keen to show us through the beautiful Saint Andre Church which has been successful in passing the test of time (war). We bump into the Assistant Mayor (Mairie) out the front too!
Jean-Marie invited us to his home (next to the church) for Sunday Lunch with his wife and brother! Their generosity blew us away . . . delicious four course banquet lunch! . . Plus the appropriate aperitifs & local wines to accompany each course!! All homemade . . . . rhubarb & strawberry . . .
We peered out from his third floor for a view of the middle of the town. His antique radio collection was extensive and interesting. Still in excellent working condition too!!
What a wonderful stay in a village that we came across by chance – – – you never know what is just around the corner!!!!! Thank you Jean-Marie and Beatrice for a delicious le déjeuner.
That evening, down at the local cafe (pub) many locals gather to watch France defeat Iceland in the semi-final in the EUFA 2016 football! Amazing atmosphere . . . . red and blue smoke flares going off after each French goal! We were unable to capture the moment in photos as we joined in with the cheering and beering!!!!