Shearwin's in Europe 2018 travel blog

Period enthusiasts

View from the Citadelle

Unique stone colouring for the city


We bade our host farewell at 0830 hrs - Kaye was less than happy with the sharing arrangements and I indicated as much to our host; I feel sure he is not going to change his business model !!

We set off to drive the 219km to Besançon along minor roads, however, this was not possible before Epinal. On reaching the town we decided to stop and view the Saturday morning markets. Parking was a problem and with consideration from a group playing Botchy, we were able to drive through their rink and park overlooking the Moselle river.

The market was in full swing and offered Kaye the opportunity to buy berries for a health kick. We also bought an anti inflammatory from a surprisingly non English speaking pharmacist who with the help of several other customers explained their application; another pleasant interaction.

We had not eaten at this stage so purchased pastries in the main market building which we consumed at a sit down coffee stand; we were obvious novelties to the locals who all acted very politely. Our pleasant waitress/ possible owner enhanced my understand of a cafe au lait when I was sold a shot with a dash of milk; I now need to use my new found pronunciation with grande if I want a big cup. Once again a friendly interaction.

We never fully established the purpose but a gathering/ convention of history or uniform buffs had set up in the gardens under the of banner “Imagination”. The costume and tent set up suggested they loved to imagine being “Thor” or a French or even an American soldier at a point in history. It also appeared they were gathering recruits for their particular “societies “. We left in admiration of their passion for dressing up.

Our next leg to Besançon was more interesting however we had to live with two conflicting GPS systems giving us instructions. I’m now becoming a greater fan of Maps.me on the iPad than my TomTom car system.

Finding our hotel was no great problem and finding our carpark directly in front of our ground floor room was an added bonus. Our receptionist was most pleasant and helpful.

Briefed on the route to the Citadelle, we set off soon after and climbed with discomfort for both of us ; there is now some realisation our youthful fitness might be failing.

The Citadelle is a great attraction for the city and appears very popular for a Saturday.

Kaye was not inclined to climb the walls and remained at the first level of entry overlooking the city while I continued to the second entry. The complex is large and well restored. The panoramic views from the ramparts of the river and surrounding countryside we spectacular to say the least; it was not hard to see why it had been sighted where it was. My favourite ( and France’s) fortress engineer Vauban has his profile well represented in various presentations. This turned out to be very close to the Wow factor of seeing Carcassonne and several other large Citadelles.

Later in the afternoon, we walked the line of the Grande Rue from the Citadelle to the river, addressing the main attractions of the city. Initially we stopped for a refreshment in front of the Eglise Saint Maurice which turned from one to two wines and a platter of meats and bread to an early dinner; a bad habit we are developing. While resting we became an audience to a large group of males participating in a bucks party for two of their friends. We eventually reached the river for a second refreshment before making our way slowly back to our hotel. An ice cream and an attempt to find good licorice a challenge on the journey.

While it was not late we were soon asleep, regretting not having viewed Besançon by night and the lighting of the Citadelle.



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