04 January 2009

THE PARIS JOURNALS NINTH ENTRY December 26


Took the train to the lovely city of Compiegne, 45 minutes north of Paris.
The trip was inspired by a New York Times article from their November 2 travel section. The article rhapsodized about the town and nearby forest and its links to Joan of Arc. The nearby forest was also the first meeting site of Marie Antoinette and her future hubby Louis XVI. But the particular focus of the article was the site just north of town where the Armistice to end World War I was signed in a railway car. It was also there that Hitler accepted France’s surrender in June of 1940. One of Hitler’s in-your-face moves at the beginning of the war. The more you learn and know about the bastard, the more you hate him.
The railway car (since destroyed) has been recreated as part of a museum dedicated primarily to the war to end all wars (it didn’t).
Unfortunately for yours truly I misunderstood the article and thought that the clearing and museum were a comfortable walk from town. Not so. It was an hour and a quarter trek, most of it along the highway.
Be that as it may the clearing has been nicely preserved with appropriate statues (the Europeans are real big on statues), tombs and the actual railway tracks.
The museum is small but to the point. It features a little bit of everything related to WWI. Perhaps fittingly they have little on Hitler’s “visit.”
Compiegne is charming -- and ladies and gentlemen I’ve never used that word to describe a town before. The adjacent woods are quite pretty. Then again, when are forests ever not pretty?
I love train travel European style -- fast, comfy and efficient.
In the evening the kiddies and I watched the French version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Between oldest daughter’s high school French, google translator and what words and names we could figure out we had fun playing along.
Another interesting day.

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