Our tour was fast coming to an end. We intended to spend the last two days in Paris and see in the New Year in that gay city. To break up the journey from Limoges we decided to stop in Orleans. Orléans is a city in north-central France, about 111 kilometres southwest of Paris. It is located on the Loire River where the river curves south towards the Massif Central.
“In the Merovingian era, the city was capital of the kingdom of Orléans following Clovis I’s division of the kingdom, then under the Capetians it became the capital of a county then duchy held in appanage by the house of Valois-Orléans. The Valois-Orléans family later acceded to the throne of France via Louis XII then Francis I. In 1108, one of the few consecrations of a French monarch to occur outside of Reims occurred at Orléans, when Louis VI of France was consecrated in Orléans cathedral by Daimbert, archbishop of Sens.” (source Wkipedia)
We stopped for lunch and to see the magnificent Cathedral. We had an unexpectedly nice lunch (the soup was probably 3 parts cream 1 part pumpkin) and our stroll through the ancient streets led us to the cathedral. Now anyone who has been reading my blogs knows we have seen a few cathedrals, however I was not prepared for the enormous height of the nave and dome in this building. To emphasis the height clear glass windows ran all the way around the building just below the vaulted ceiling.
The city is service by trams. Around the cathedral something just did not seem correct. The trams were operating and passing the cathedral but no overhead power lines to despoil the view. Answer, there is a third rail between the tram tracks and the tram picks up the power by a foot under the vehicle. We also spotted the original Mc Donalds – see below.
We had very little time here as Kerry wanted to avoid rush hour in Paris to get to our hotel in Monmarte. In the words of that famous general MacArthur – we shall return – at some stage to further investigate Orleans.
We left Dampierre on the morning of December 28 with much sadness that our time there had ended. With a fair wind we set sail to Limoges in the Central Massif. On the way however we called into Oradour sur Glane. It was a bitterly cold (below zero with some snow flecks) and misty day. The memorial was closed but the gate to the remains of the WW2 village lay open and beckoning. To me it looked like a village where a devastating fire had rushed through catching its inhabitants unprepared. In fact the fire was War and the result one of the all too familiar atrocities of War – the massacre of non-combatants. I have given the web link to the official site and the opening paragraph from the site. I have also added a few photos of what I saw.
“This website describes the history, background and events leading up to the Nazi war-crime of the attack upon the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane. This atrocity was carried out on Saturday 10th June 1944 by soldiers of the Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich. On that day, without giving any explanation, they killed a total of 642 men, women and children, leaving only a few survivors. They then destroyed the entire village and to this day there is no universally accepted explanation for the massacre. The narrative, “In a Ruined State”, gives a full description of what happened on the 10th June 1944 and reviews all the current explanations offered by different authors for the attack on the village. In addition there are over 200 photographs in the Picture Gallery and much supporting information in the Appendices, including advice on how to get there and places to stay during a visit. If short of time, read the Summary and browse the Picture Gallery, but for a fuller understanding it is recommended to read all of, In a Ruined State and the Appendices, as they contain much relevant detail about the background to the affair and what happened afterwards to all those involved.”
I also recommend that you look at the Wikipedia history as a preliminary to reading more if you wish to do so. Note the words from the official site “and to this day there is no universally accepted explanation for the massacre”