Saturday, 20 June 2009

10 Years On - Part 7 of Account of Cycling Northern France

This was the day that I found I had had 700F (about £70 in those days) stolen. I had feared getting pickpocketed in the town and had concealed the money, with a distinctive 500F note in my spare of shoes. Though this may not seem much money now, it was a day's pay for me in those days and I was paying 120F per day, bed and breakfast, for my room. I assumed it was by the maid as when I came back to sleep the previous afternoon she came straight back into my room without knocking, I assumed, to see if she could find any more. Of course I had no evidence. The diary entry for 22nd June 1999 when I changed my French money back shows that I had had equivalent to £239 left, so my despair at losing the £70 need not have curtailed the holiday, but it seemed to be the final reason for cutting the holiday short.

I did get to stay in the youth hostel in castle at Montreuil-sur-Mer (though the sea is now a number of kilometres away, it was on the coast in medieval times), a small medieval fortified town. Some weeks later watching Richard Holmes's series 'The Western Front' (August 1999), I found out it had been the headquarters of the British command in the First World War. Given that I was the only person sleeping in the place that night, if I had known that fact I think I would have relocated for fear of being haunted. However, there were no curtains on the windows and it was the day before the longest day, so the night was very short.

Sunday 20th June 1999

Today I found I was about 700F short, I had put aside before I went out yesterday, but I could not find it anywhere today, possibly the maid took it. I do not know because I cannot remember precisely where I put it.

I cycled 100Km today going North instead of North West so it took time to get on the route. The weather was appalling - heavy rain, mist and wind, everything got wet. I reached Abbeville at 12.30 and Montreuil at 16.30. The Sun then came out but the wind remained strong until evening.

The youth hostel is in the middle of the Citadel, a 16th-17th century fort. It is a "green" one without permanent staff but adequate showers and rooms. There is only a woman on the gate when the Citadel is open. I am the only guest as one large group left today and a group of British children arrive tomorrow, if I had arrived then I would not have got in. The woman gave me the key to the main door so I have the whole fort to myself! I looked around it and the town taking photos.

There are a lot of British here as we are on the main road to Boulogne and Calais. I had some beers in a cafe then dinner at the Logis restaurant, 'Les Hauts de Montreuil' which was really tasty. Though I pulled the stops out it came to only 213F. I walked back on the ramparts and came back to the deserted fort, a bit unnerving. If I had arrived tomorrow I would not have had all this.

Weather: Dull, rainy, windy, cool, sunny and mild later.

Entrance from Inside the Citadel at Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999
Towers of the Citadel at Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

Barbican in the Citadel at Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

Youth Hostel Accommodation in the Citadel at Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

View through Arrow-slit in the Citadel at Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

View of Montreuil-sur-Mer from its Citadel, June 1999

St. Saulve Church in Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

Town Hall and Equestrian Statue of Field Marshal the Earl (Douglas) Haig in Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

Assorted Houses in Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

Why I took, let alone kept this last picture of a mundane street, I have no idea, especially as there are many prettier streets in the town. Given how often I get lost on holiday, I always spend ages walking through dull suburbs of towns rather than their better-looking areas, so I suppose my standards for what counted as 'interesting' were pretty low by this stage.
Views from the Ramparts of Montreuil-sur-Mer, June 1999

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