Paris-Nice 

Sens, Yonne, sat June 23rd 2017

In 1903 , the first Tour de France started from  a  café called ” Le réveil matin” In Montgeron , 25 Kms south of Paris.  These tough guys on their heavy bikes headed to Lyon, first layover. 450 Kms southward. We are not that ambitious- or masochist-. “We” is Eurocycle, a bike club that rides every year end of June about 1000kms in a week somewhere in Europe. The group of 25 to 30 riders has a German team, a French one, a Andorran one, and some Brits and Americans , depending on the year. This year we are riding from Montgeron to Nice, in 7 days, about 150 Kms a day on backroads. Nostalgia was the moto of the day: all along the road that follows the Seine river, posh bourgeois houses are abandoned, run down, forlorn, nostalgic witnesses of a time, the end of the 19th century, when well off bourgeois families from Paris would build summer houses along the river. Nowadays nobody wants to put their money in such big houses that require servants and large families to fill them up. Only a few of them are renovated for corporate seminars and conferences, or as senior care homes. Further south, villages and town center in Burgundy are often dead. People buy on internet and in malls, pop and mom stores are gone. Nostalgia. Better admire 12 th century cathedrals and cloisters. They are everywhere in France, and even if they are empty on sundays because no one goes to church anymore, they are witness of an age, the roman and gothic age, that Internet will not destroy, on the contrary: modern technology makes it possible to see the cathedral painted as they were in their heydays. 

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D Day in Chausey

Sat May 3 ,2017

A tiny island in the middle of the sea is probably a good place to escape the fury of the world. In occupied France 1940-44, Chausey remained unstained by German boots. On the contrary, nearby Jersey, Guernesey and Aulderney were heavily fortified,  as Hitler was so proud to occupy some British territory.So, Chausey and it’s some 50 inhabitants never saw the feldgrau uniforms , never heard a gunshot, and never starved. However , war invited itself in Chausey on June 8, 1944, two days after D Day, when  a US Air Force bomber crashed on the island.

That morning at 10.30 Am, leutnant James Q Ogden and his crew of 10 in their heavy “LIberator” bomber, the “Daisy Mae Scraggs” had just dropped their bombs on the railway station of Granville on the Normandy coast, when they were attacked by a squadron of German Messerschmidt 109. The Daisy was soon in fire, and Ogden ordered his crew to jump out of the plane before it exploded. Right under his  wings  he saw the sea and the  tiny archipelago, and hoped for a safe parachute landing on or near the islands.  5 of his men managed to reach the islands, were fishermen picked them up soon after. 5 never made it, and drowned in the sea. The rescued men were sheltered and  pampered by the inhabitants during a month, and probably never ate so much lobster in their life. Parts of the plane were scattered across the islands, were they remained until the mid 50 s.  However a month later, on July 9, the Germans stationed in Granville, before fleeing in front of  General  Patton armored divisions pouring towards Avranches and Brittany , came pick up the pilots and sent them to a Stalag in Poland. One of them came back to Chausey several times after the war to meet the fishermen who had taken care of them . A part of one of the propellers of the plane is kept in  the tiny chapel of Chausey, as well as a plaque in memory of the young men who lost their life in the crash. 

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