Monday, December 22, 2008

Viva la France!

I'm in France! Up the River Meuse from Liége, then through the Ardenne Mountains... I underestimated the distances between some of the towns in my original planning - I've walked 319 kilometers in these 11 days... someone can check my math, but I think that's just about 220 miles. I had a hope of being in Paris for Christmas, but I just won't be able to walk that fast. Come what may.

I also crossed the 50th parallel, marked with a sign on a little backroad for some reason. The weather hasn't been much different on the south side of the 50th parallel than on the north side. I've had ample opportunity to field test my self-designed integrated packcover-raincape. The weather hasn't exactly been ideal, but it hasn't been terrible.

These are heavy boar- and deer-hunting days. The forests are dominated with hunters, not pilgrims. I'm somewhat forced to walk more along busy shoulderless roads instead of peaceful forest paths. Belgium is a comparatively densely populated place - there's rarely been a time when I haven't been able to see a village or town in the distance. Even in forests, there's often a wind turbine or other sign of modern life. There's little chance of getting lost.

Immediately in France, I encountered a war monument and clear residual signs of 20th century war activities. Looking around, though, there're signs of much older wars - fortified churches of the 15th century. I did a painting of one but search for a place where I can scan it in and post it here. At the tail end of the 100-Years' War, it seems in this region, there was such destruction that the foreign mercenaries turned to sacking and pillaging for their own gain once the kings could no longer afford to pay them. The locals took it upon themselves to fortify their village churches to protect their possessions from the looters. The churches wouldn't have been able to withstand heavy artillery, which the raiders lacked anyway, but they remain today as strangely proportioned massive bastions in these little villages. The things ya see...

1 comment:

Jeff (Mr. Babs) said...

Make sue you don't buy a hat with antlers and call it stylish like your black beret!
Be safe and stay warm.