Oct. 5, 2018 (1)

Okay, this is going to take a few posts - we opted for the WWI tour for the day after the Congress...(the Congress offered two tours but this was the one we felt rounded out our "Flanders Fields" tour begun in Ypres [49 miles North of Arras] several years ago when we visited the Netherlands).

After an early breakfast we walked to the Grand Square to catch the tour bus...

the only thing that caught my eye from the bus trip was what I thought was a work of art:
...turns out its over the entrance to E.Leclerc, a Hypermarket or Big Box Retailer to us...still, I thought it cool...

First Stop:
La Carriere Wellington, Memorial de la Bataille d'Arras 4/9/1917

The Wellington Tunnels were created from a chalk quarry which was dug in the Middle Ages because chalk was a big building material back in the day.  The development of the quarry (named the Wellington Quarry by the New Zealand tunnellers) allowed the accommodation of over 24,000 soldiers for the Spring 1917 offensive.
 The New Zealand Tunnelers memorial is on the left wall of the entrance to the tunnels
There were hundreds of photographs of the New Zealand tunnelers - amazing research collection!
Because it is a cave structure, everyone is required to wear helmets - the memorial had theirs created out of fiberglass to recreate WWI helmets -

The tour includes a guide, an audio tour that syncs with the videos and photos in the tunnels, and maps...
photos were of ruins above ground in Arras
The memorial is located at Wellington, but you can see the
extent of the tunnels under Arras - Place des Heroes is just on the left
in the middle...
as you can see by the map, Ypres is just 1 hour North
I think the red line is the front at the time of the tunnels
also photos of the men in the tunnels
Archaeologists who were researching Middle Age stone quarries found a great number of items left by the soldiers -
an example of the bunk structures
the type of cubby dug for the bunks

It is very difficult now to imagine how horrible it was - outside was all mud, ruins, trenches and dead guys and inside was all mud and thousands of men (ugh...the smell...)...

I was happy to get back in the sun outside and get back on a nice, clean bus!

Next up - more WWI...


Oct. 4, 2018

Back to the Hotel d'Guines for the last day of the Congress -

 our friend, Ronny Anderson giving his lecture
Ronny is a heraldic artist (for a living!)

That evening was the closing banquet - held at the Hotel de l'Universe (a former Jesuit monastery from the 17th century) -

They are well-known for their gormet kitchen, so the food was really good, but the service was terrible -
my first course: scallops in a vegetable sauce (can't remember what kind)
My entree was the fish
But the point of the banquet, to us, is getting to visit one more time with some of our friends-
someone on FB posted this one of our table
Next up, it's WWI everywhere -


Oct. 3, 2018

I mean, how can you not like a country that thinks cheesecake is an appropriate breakfast food?

And, if your hotel didn't provide enough pastry for your tastes, they have shops...

After breakfast we headed out to the second day of the Congress for a day-long list of lectures.  This time it was at the Hotel de Guines...one of the rare private mansions preserved in the city of Arras...1738-beginning of the construction...1792-sold as national property...1870- Seat of the general recipe...1880-property of the Boyenval family...1914-becomes the meeting place of a military circle...July 1915- fire and partial destruction (info from internet)  and these are just the shots in the courtyard -

The rooms inside were fairly plan with just a hint of faux gilding -

Again, it was a good day of lectures by our friends -
Richard Baker's lecture
And Dave's lecture was that day, as well

I did sneak out for a bit as there was a yarn shop only 1/4 mile from there, I love this kind of souvenir!

Afterwards we again went out for dinner with friends and then headed back to the hotel - I took the opportunity to get a couple more shots of details of the Town Hall building -

Next up - last day of the Congress, proper....