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Touring The Battle Sites Of France

Dec 18, 2007
Being a student of history I have always wished to visit France on a historical trip. Unlike Britain, continental Europe is seemingly more in touch with its history and France in particular carries an air of splendour not present in many other European countries. If you are planning to undertake a similar trip my advice is to fly and drive. Car hire in France is readily available, and flying always starts the holiday with a bit of flare.

I would be taking the girlfriend and with my deal breaking skills I had managed to secure a week of touring for two days in Paris. Flying into Charles de Gaulle we would stay in Paris and do the romance thing before we acquired a hire car. This was my penance for dragging her round the battlefields and cemeteries of the First World War and the glorious buildings and sites of the medieval period.

After a few days of romance in the capital we contacted the car hire firm, they would deliver the car to our hotel and we could deposit it at a different destination later in the holiday. On leaving the bustling metropolis of Paris on a scorching summer's day I was glad this hire car had air conditioning, it truly made all the difference.

First on my list of places to go was Rouen, this city had always captured my imagination as the place where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. As we followed the Seine from Paris the car swallowed the road in front of us, luckily the car hire company had given us something a little racy. Rouen had been one of the finest and most prosperous cities in medieval Europe, with some fabulous examples of Gothic architecture it as at the top of the list for places to see.

The outstanding Notre Dame Cathedral dominates the city despite its almost complete destruction during the D-day offensive. As we arrived I insisted that we should park the hire car and walk into this fantastic city, with its half timbered buildings and gothic architecture at every turn it takes you back to a different age, an age where Britain still had continental possessions. The feeling of the city has remained, despite modernity creeping in; it retains its medieval essence.

After spending a night soaking in the culture of this magnificent city we headed to the next stage of the journey, I would advise any fan of history to visit the sites of the Great War, as a constant reminder of the brutality of war they offer a poignant reminder of nastier side of humanity. Next on the itinerary would be Arras, as a town near the Western Front it contained many cemeteries and would give a representation of the horror of the war to end all wars.

This is where the hire car came in very useful, as up country from the town laid the striking Vimy Memorial, representing the Battle of Vimy Ridge, an offensive launched as part of the wider Battle of Arras, its eerie serenity belied the slaughter that had occurred here ninety years earlier. Added to this the town itself had some beautiful Gothic architecture most notably the guildhall, not to mention a huge array of fine restaurants and cafes.

Close by to this town is the field of Agincourt, literally a field now, without a hire car it would be impossible to view this site. The scene of Henry V's most recognised battle it offered those with a semblance of nationalism the delight of seeing one of the greatest English victories in history.

As our trip came to a close we headed to Calais, here we would deposit the hire car and board the Eurostar for the trip under the channel back to England. Despite the girlfriend's protestations of having to endure a week of historical touring, she had ultimately enjoyed it. I would advise this kind of trip to anyone, whether a history lover or not, using a car hire service and touring the French countryside gaining knowledge about our nation's past conflicts is too worthwhile an opportunity to pass up.
About the Author
Car hire expert Shaun Parker travels extensively and uses Budget's car hire France services regularly. To find out more please visit http://www.budget.co.uk/car-hire/car-hire-france.htm
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