Boulogne to Longpre-corps-les-Saints

The weather improved considerably today enough even for me to get sunburn by the end of it!

Not knowing what the traffic would be like, I had chosen a route based on quiet roads virtually all the way to Paris. However, some of the biggest roads we were due to use were between Boulogne and Etaples at the very start of the first day in France.

I really need not have worried!

Firstly, almost without exception, French drivers are extremely considerate of cyclists, on one occasion a coach driver opted to almost drive headlong into an oncoming vehicle rather than cause us any trouble.

Secondly, once outside Boulogne, virtually the entire route to Etaples has a cycle path running parallel to it on both sides of the roads. These aren't British cycle paths either, their surface is clean and smooth running all the way.

The route to Etaples was ideal, warm sunny and quiet and it wasn't long before we reached the town outskirts and the military cemetery, which demands your attention.

The graveyard may be a serene place in a beautiful location but the sheer quantity of the gravestones and the fact that this is just one of many such places really defies comprehension.

Etaple military cemetery

It may have been a long time ago, but reading some of the names of the people who lost their lives for the freedom of their country and it's people forces you to wonder what they would make of their country today and, of course, was their sacrifice worthwhile?

Anyway back to more mundane things like cycling. After crossing the river at Etaples we turned right to head inland a bit and used small roads for the rest of the day.

The only other towns of any size we passed through were Montrueil-sur-Mer, an interesting hilltop walled fortress town (sorry, it isn't possible to avoid the hill) and Crécy-en-Fonthieu, which I discovered was the site of a famous battle in the '100 years war' where 12,000 English troops routed a French army three times their size.

Crécy itself actually has a lot of information about the battle (in French and English) and a three storey lookout tower has been built, at the edge of a field, so you can get a bird's-eye view of the battleground to better understand what took place.

Two things struck me as I surveyed the scene.

Firstly, why had I not seen anything similar that related to battles of the 1st or 2nd World Wars? Maybe these events are just too real at the moment but, despite the tragic suffering and loss of these wars, surely time will turn them into little more than an historical curiosity too.

Secondly, and far less philosophically, just how likely is it that money would be found in the UK to construct a monument to a famous French victory?

Once out of Crécy only a long Roman Road, the sort of road that looks good on the map for getting from A to B but you take your chances with the hills, stood between us and Longpre-corps-les-Saints. As it turned out it, whilst not exactly flat, it wasn't too bad and (sunburn apart) a reasonably painless day was over.

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Day:2 of 4
Date:05 April 2005
Distance:112 KM
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