Travelled: 204 kilometres from Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France to Bouillon, Belgium.
Visited: Montmédy Citadel, France, Bastogne and Bouillon in Belgium
Stayed: Bouillon Aire, free. N49.79080, E05.05801
We have a very quiet eveing staying at the American Cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon. Mind you we didn’t expect much else. A couple of cars pass by the Hymer just before 7am, a few minutes later we can hear the sound of lawn mowers starting. Another work day starts for the grounds keepers.
Our attempt at walking through the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon after coffee is less than successful. As we near the centre of the village it starts to drizzle and we retreat to the relative dryness of the Hymer. Our objective for today is the famous crossroads in Bastogne, Belgium.
What should be an easy drive, suddenly become more difficult about half an hour north of Montfaucon. A kilometre past Stenay the road is blocked, by a Policeman who turns us back to Stenay. A 17 kilometre drive becomes a 29 kilometres test of the Hymer’s suspension. With the GPS trying to send us across farmer’s field we bounce our way along until we rejoin a D road and drive into Montmédy.
We originally planned a stop at Montmédy to service the Hymer. But there was a bit of an issue at the service point. There were two French vans in front of us. So I walked over to check it out. About that time the wife of one of the guys stepped outside, as if by magic the hose jumped out of his filler tank and gave her a good old spray with water. She did not take kindly to our laughing and commenced shouting at everyone. As I don’t understand French, I didn’t take it too personally but took the opportunity to enjoy her husband being beaten up.
From the service point we could see the Citadel of Mortmédy just up the road, so we thought why not.
The first drawbridge…
Leads to another drawbridge…
Leading on to a series of gates within a tunnel. The people of Montmédy certainly didn’t like a surprise visit. The Citadel was constructed by Charles V in 1545.
The village church…it appears to be used as a theatre rather than a church these days.
The village square looks a little unkept on this autumn morning, but its been a long summer.
Whilst there were some beautifully restored homes in the Citadel’s village, many more were in disrepair or abandoned. Couldn’t imagine what it would cost to renovate this.
Time to get going again. The Belgium border is only a few kilometres to the north, but we have another hour of driving to reach Bastogne.
Don’t let this photo deceive you, the roads in Belgium are poor compared to both France and Germany.
We arrive in Bastogne, our teeth shaken loose by the road. A Sherman Tank stands as a tribute in the town square. Bastogne was the centre point of the last great push west by Hitler in WW11. The battle of the bulge was decided on the outcome of the fight over this set of cross roads.
I have had Bastogne marked as a place of interest for a few years. It’s not really on the way to anywhere, so as were close, why not do a little detour. The town appears to be geared for the American tourist. Mind you none we saw looked like this.
Bastogne has no aire that we could find, parking is very limited. The streets in the centre of town are narrow, conjested and all one-way. So not exactly motorhome friendly. Mind you there are lots of interesting pubs about.
So we drive out to the United States Memorial.
We climb the Memorial, as this photo partly shows the 50 States of the Union are emblazoned on the monument as well as the regimental insignias of those involved in the battle.
Last picture from the top of the Memorial looking back toward the town of Bastogne.
Anyway we have seen Bastogne. With no convenient aire we decide to drive south-west back towards France. I put the co-ordinates for an aire in Bouillon into the GPS. Whilst its still on the Belgium side of the border, there are some good reviews so we may as well have a look.
As we drive down into Bouillon, the town takes our interest straight away. Our second fortress citadel in one day !
So we follow the River Semois past two of these old gates into the aire, which looks just fine.
A walk back up town and a drink or two seems like a good idea. We avoid the hotel bars and find a little Tabac Bar with a view of the square and waterfront. Using my best sign language I manage to get Pam a nice cold Chardy and a Leff for myself and we settle in.
Exploring Bouillon any further can wait till tomorrow…