Thieu to Tournai

After enjoying the ascenseur, only a few kilometres down the road, Sophie even got to visit the ruined Chateau Harvé, so the day was going well for her.

I’ve just started tracing the movements of my great uncle Emile during WW1, and before I even get my teeth into his two wartime diaries, a have read the transcript and listened to the recording of an interview he gave in 1976. This has been helpful because he recounts his time in Mons, followed by the retreat to Le Cateau, which we passed through a couple of days ago. The battle at Le Cateau in August 1914 was the first major engagement the British had with the Germans.

He mentioned the village of Ors, just a little on from Le Cateau, and also the Belgian village of Wasmes. We visited Ors two days ago and Wasmes was next on today’s agenda.

Uncle Emile’s job was to organise the billeting of the soldiers, and so, because he could speak French, he was able to do all the negotiating with the locals. His language skills almost undoubtedly saved his life because his role was very much just behind the front line rather than on the front line itself. This way he went through the whole of WW1 unscathed, and was witness to some of the major battles of the war.

After Wasmes, we aimed for the second chateau of the day at Beloeil. We continued to dodge the heavy rain which we’d experienced en route, and after lunch we strolled around the outside of the closed chateau. Sophie was happy with the visit, so that was the main thing.

En route to Tournai, we made a detour to the nearby little village of Rongy. In the 19th Century, Sophie’s great great great grandfather, Francois de Faye, was a Protestant minister in these parts, with responsibility for the Tournai and Rongy areas.

Of course, two world wars have been particularly destructive to this part of the world, so it’s not as if any buildings remain that we can associate with him, but it has been interesting to visit these places with family connections.

So tonight we’ll be staying in the aire at Tournai. It’s a big town with the road pretty close, so hopefully the traffic will subside later or perhaps we’ll be lulled to sleep by the white noise of the passing vehicles.

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6 thoughts on “Thieu to Tournai

    1. We speak basic French and pretty much get by, but goodness, when we went to Spain and Portugal earlier this year, boy, did we feel completely lost language wise! We mustered together our basic courtesy words, and one or two essentials, bread etc! – but did feel a bit incapacitated!
      Glad you like my photos!
      Sophie

  1. We are in Portugal now. I am Spanish and grew up in Galicia, so we get by as languages are very similar. Hope you are getting better weather up there. It’s blowing a gale here. Motorhome rocking like a cradle. Really scary! Safe travels.

    1. You have a real advantage on the language front then Fatima. Must be such a help.
      We were in Galicia in spring in fact (all on the blog). We had a good trip.
      I absolutely loved the brioche style croissant that Lidl did – they were so scrummy! Bought some every time we shopped, which at Lidls is every couple of days. I have only found them in Galicia which is gutting! Tried googling to no avail! Have you had them? – any idea what they’re called?
      We touched on Portugal for a couple of days that same trip, for the achieving having got there!
      Was very windy here yesterday (St Malo way) – well, mainly a squall literally in the night. Didn’t get to be scary though. We have had 3 extra days tacked on to our trip due to industrial action at St Malo docks. Thankfully the motorhome has been a saviour as you can imagine. No accommodation issues! We should be back to Jersey tomorrow.
      Have a good time in Portugal and don’t get blown away!

      1. Thank you. We survived the night and are back in Galicia now (Nice aire at Boiro opposite beach), sunny and warm now. Not sure about those croissants, but I’ll look for you. We did a big shop in Gadis, which is also very good and cheap. Glad you had a good trip. Heard about ferry run aground in Calais heading for Dover! I wouldn’t have liked being at sea yesterday: I needed my sea legs in the van, as rocking like mad!!!! Hope Jersey has milder weather. All the best. 👍

      2. Glad that you got through that stormy weather ok. We are back in Jersey now and with the strong winds were delayed a bit until they subsided enough for the ferry to get us home comfortably! The boat was on a go slow (well, slower), to help in that regard too, so 2 hours instead of the usual 1 hour 20.
        I forget all the place names we visited in Galicia – in fact I forget all the names we visit everywhere! 😉. Boiro sounds a good spot! Great weather too!
        I wish I had noted what Lidl called those croissants and I can’t find my photo of them for the life of me! They looked like shiny smooth croissants, but were a brioche in texture and taste. Yes, do look out for them! – and try them! – and hopefully you won’t be disappointed!
        Jersey weather is wet and windy but pretty ok and seasonally what I’d expect. Carry on enjoying your trip!
        Bfn! 👋🏻

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