Monday, October 02, 2006


This weekend was the first following the successful harvest. Traditionally, this means having no plans, enjoying a lie-in and indulging in general slobbiness, which Frog and I relish. Except this year all the family were summoned to the village for an official meeting, Saturday 9am, to discuss the future of the House. For reasons of family discretion, I will have to save publishing any details of this, the latest part of the saga, for the book that deserves to be written, covering the highs and lows of a family viticulture business in this region.

By, the time Saturday had been taken up by an analysis of the morning's events, Sunday morning rolled around and we were still uptight so didn't manage a lie-in then, either. Once up, we enjoyed a long walk in the autumnal sunshine, through the city.

Reims is where the Germans surrendered to to the Allied Expedition in 1945. I've blogged about this before but we've never visited the place where the document was signed.

The headquarters of Eisenhower's allied forces were based in one of the local high schools, now named Lycée Franklin Roosevelt. So, it's here that a little museum has been created, and the original room preserved. Frog might have sat a couple of exams there, but had never visited the rooms.

There was something a little humbling about seeing the small class room and simple museum. A basic exhibition of photos showed Reims under occupation and documentation of its subsequent liberation. It's a relatively small city and there was a moment of realisation for me that, yes of course, the Square des Vicitimes de la Gestapo is placed just around the corner from our flat because that's where the Gestapo HQ was. And an 'oh' moment upon seeing a shot of the (then) sous-préfet of Reims smiling with Eisenhower. The sous-préfet shared not only the same family name as our current (somewhat derided) Mayor, but the same facial profile. Must be a family member we agreed*. Photos of the procession of the liberating forces show tanks rolling down our street alongside the café that Frog and I have a Friday evening coupe with our neighbour, the florist.

Strolling back home early evening and greeting another neighbour as we neared the flat, I realised that I'm getting to know my little city much better. I don't just live here, I feel like I'm becoming more a part of the city. This isn't another place that I'm passing through, this is where my life is and all plans for the future lie. It's a good feeling.

*Wikipedia tells me the sous-préfet was the father whose brother was one of the local victims of the Gestapo.

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