Bonne journée – Belfort, France

We took a walk as soon as daylight came, which due to daylight saving was 7.30am. Our motorhome Aire is on the road up to La Miotte fortress, part of the original walled fortifications of Belfort, another Vauban fortification (as per the citadel we saw in Arras). The citadel in the centre of town is perfectly pentagonal and the walls can still be seen, however, there is also an outer wall of fortification which we took the opportunity to walk round at daybreak. Beautiful view of the mist in the valley and the autumnal golden colours of dawn were our reward and not a single other walker. When we got back, I went off to la boulangerie (bakery) for bread for breakfast, as you must do when in France.

After a good breakfast, Lola, Lizzy and I took a run along the hilltops whilst Kevin did some planning for our next adventures next year. Early afternoon we headed to the Place d’Armes for a cup of tea. It was bathed in sunshine and the tables were brimming with locals enjoying a leisurely lunch. An espresso and a gauloises was probably more in keeping with the local tradition, but we do have our tea black as a concession 🤣 The square is brimming with perfect looking floral decorations even in October and with the cathedral on one side, the townhall on the other and the citadel overlooking all from up high, this is definitely the centre of town.

We walked up the hill to the fort to visit the famous Lion of Belfort, sculpted by August’s Bartholdi (father of the Statue of Liberty) to commemorate 16,000 armed citizens, who during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 defended the area even after the surrender of the French government. It is 11m high and 22m long carved from what looks like red sandstone, it sits immediately below the citadel in the above picture and over looks the strategically important Belfort gap between the Rhine and the Rhone which has seen this region under siege many times over the years.

Le Lion de Bartholdi, Belfort

Next, another cuppa at the museum of history, now housed at the citadelle in the sunshine, before Kevin went off for a tour of the museum whilst Lola, Lizzy and I had to wait outside. There was a detailed account of all of the local battles from 1700’s to WW2, including battleground positions, uniforms and armoury which Kevin enjoyed for the rest of the afternoon. As we left, we saw a tank from the liberation of Belfort after 4 years of Nazi occupation during WWII, in which Lieutenant Martin died, the armour piercing shot visible at the front, poignantly called “Cornouailles” (Cornwall).

The Cornwall tank from the Liberation of Belfort

Finally we returned to the Place d’Armes for a beer in the late afternoon sun with it seemed half the local population of Belfort. A lovely day 😃

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