Thursday, May 28, 2009

Walking Through World War II History

This morning we went to Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees, which is ruled by a Spanish bishop and the French president - a curious arrangement. We went for some shopping - it is as near to us as any of the bigger towns, and we can get things there, like Spanish wine (much underrated), which we would otherwise only get by driving into Spain. The drive into the mountains to Andorra is also spectacularly beautiful, with much snow still on the Pyrenees.

On the way back, Gay dropped me at Espezel, a small village on the Plateau de Sault. This is 16 kms from home and a height of over 1000 metres.

My walk home, although mainly on public roads, was almost traffic-free. That is the type of roads I want when doing VBW. 10 kms from home I passed a sign for the Maquis du Picaussel. This was the headquarters of the local French Resistance during WWII. At 1000 metres or over 3000 feet, the 400 men had a commanding view over the lower territory and could see whether the Germans were making any move in their direction, which helped them survive, of course.

If only the same could be said for the village of Lescale, which I passed through on my way down. All the buildings in Lescale are surprisingly new-looking. A plaque near the church explains why. The original village of Lescale was destroyed by the German Army because they were irritated by the actions of the Maquis.

Nevertheless, German tourists are very welcome in the area. There are always plenty of them about in the summer.

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