What a day today! I got up at 4:30 a.m., just because I couldn't sleep any longer. I was at CHM's apartment in Paris. I had breakfast — tea and a couple of biscottes — and checked my e-mail and blog comments. I posted something I had written the previous evening about the "troubles" in Saint-Aignan (more about that later). Then at 6:40 a.m. I left CHM's place and walked 15 minutes to the train station where I had reserved a rental car.
The agency opened at 7:00, and they did exactly that: at 7:00, I was waiting out front and saw the lights come on. The door was unlocked. I walked in, handed over the reservation confirmation, my passport, and my credit card, and 15 minutes later I was out the door. It took me a while to find my way out and down to the parking garage where the Renault Kangoo was parked, but I finally found the vehicle and was on my way out onto the streets of Paris by 7:30. I got lost for a second, but a minute later I had found my way again and was back at CHM's by 7:45. Paris traffic was still pretty light.
I pulled the car into the courtyard of his building and we started loading it up. More about the contents later, but let me say it was a lot of stuff. We were taking it to a town about 100 miles north of Paris — in the area where CHM's family came from and where his father had a house built some 75 years ago. After we were all loaded up, we headed out. I decided to drive up the Champs-Elysées over to the Porte Maillot to get to the Boulevard Périphérique, and that was probably a mistake. There was a lot of traffic, and road work all along the way was slowing things down.
Fact is, by 9:30 we were on the A1 autoroute, driving past CDG airport and on our way to Picardy. We stopped first to see a very old church in the village of Morienval (more later), and then went into the small city of Compiègne for lunch. We drove on the see the 11th-century cathedral at Noyon (birthplace of John Calvin) and then on to the town of Saint-Quentin, where I also had never been before.
Now we are in Picardy near the town called Péronne, and in the middle of many of the major WWI battlefields. We saw British, French, and German military cemeteries this afternoon. I've never been up here before, and I have to say it is beautiful. The fine hot weather doesn't hurt.
I don't really have time to blog, but I'll tell you I took 350 pictures today. I'm having a lot of trouble tying to process them on the laptop I bought along on the trip. One day soon I'll be able to post some of them. It's just after 10:00 p.m. as I write this and I need to get some sleep.