Sunday, November 13, 2016

Girouette Coq - Chemery-sur-Bar, France
Girouette Coq of the Week

This rooster was found loitering atop an old Roman Church in the village of Chemeny-sur-Bar, France not far from Charleville-Mezieres.  We found him upon our return from a member service project.  While full of character, he seems to be a bit less boisterous than some of his neighboring brothers - he has his mouth shut, but then he has spurs - not always found on coqs in this neck of the woods.  The shut mouth combined with the spurs seems to indicate he is a coq of few words but inclined to action.  Maybe some of our politicians could learn from him.

Sanglier or Wild Boar - Ardennes, France
Sanglier Sighting near Le Chesney, France

While we saw two sanglier about three months ago on our way to the refugee camp in Dunkirk we were not able to get a photo as they disappeared into the wild before we could get out of the car. We have been very anxious to get a picture of a real wild boar or sanglier.  No great reason other than the challenge of doing so - the Wilsons, who were here in Charleville just before us, never saw a sanglier in the wild - so the challenge.

On our way home from visiting the Dampt family in Le Chesney, France this past Tuesday evening about 5:30 PM we encountered a real live wild sanglier.  After climbing the hill coming out of Le Chesney and leveling off we saw him running at full speed through the fields along side the road.  We were lucky because, though he was running at full speed, he was running parallel to the road.  Sanglier run in long bounding strides where all feet are off the ground.  We pulled over as he kept running.  I shouted to get his attention and sure enough he stopped and as Sister Clark called out;  "he is posing for a picture", I took several.  He was in focus but every time I clicked the shutter the camera lost focus and the pictures were too dark to see anything.  He did not pose long and took off running again - still parallel to the road.  We jumped in the car and pursued him for another kilometer or so.  Again, we jumped out of the car and took a photo or two, but again the focus failed and no good picture!  What a disaster!!!!  So the picture above is not one I took; I got it from the internet, but the sanglier is representative of the pictures I took.  I promise to share my very own photo of a sanglier when I take it.
Fortified Farm - near Charleville-Mezieres
Armistice Day -11 Novembre

This past Friday was a holiday in France - Armistice Day or perhaps more commonly called Onze Novembre (11th of November) by the french.  The signing of the Armistice or peace treaty that ended World War I was signed at a location less than thirty kilometers from Charleville-Meziers, at Sedan, France.  The offensive that culminated in the Armistice was lead by American Forces.

There are reminder everywhere, in this part of France and Belgium, of the great conflicts that took place here in Europe.  This part of the world has seemingly forever anticipated and seen armed conflict.  

This week, in a search for help with one of our Nigerian refugees, we were lead to a very compassionate and helpful women; Madame Sauvage.  I have to say she is one of the more interesting people I have met thus far in France.  She was very helpful in finding us attorneys and others willing to help refugees in trouble.  She is herself directly helping refugees and, at times, in a way that puts her at some risk.  We made sure to invite her to our Soiree Noel (Christmas Evening) at the Church.

Madame Sauvage lives on a very isolated farm near Charleville-Mezieres in a large home that was formerly a small chateau burnt by retreating German soldiers.  The main part of the farm consists of farm buildings which encircle a large inner courtyard.  This type of set up is rather typical for older farms here in France and Belgium.  The thing I found atypical was the fact that it was the remnants of a "fortified farm"; meaning it was built not only for farming but also for protection.  Before it's partial destruction; the farm buildings included four turret towers, one at each corner, which accommodated protection and the means of fighting off attackers.  While on ruins of the turret towers remain, the pigeonnier or pigeon house is still in relatively good condition - pictured below.  Farmers often anticipated conflict and tried to prepare for invasions.  This farm likely saw fighting during several wars.  Now that the conflicts are over, Madame Sauvage has a very peaceful and delightful place to live.
Pigeon House - Fortified Farm - near Charleville-Meziers
French Bunkers used in WW II

This bunker located in a field near Sedan, France is just another reminder of the major wars that took place here.  We took these picture upon a trip to visit a member who lives in the Sedan area.  Brother Gilquin was anxious to show this and a couple of smaller bunkers to us.

When we see all the monuments to those who gave their lives and the relics that remain from war, it is easy to understand why Armistice Day/Onze Novembre is such an important holiday in this part of the world.  Charleville-Mezieres was very quite on Friday, November 11 as the stores were closed and few people were found on the streets in downtown.
Gun Turret in French Bunker - near Sedan, France
This bunker near Sedan, France was intended as an extension of the Maginot Line which stopped just short of this area.  This particular bunker was located in a strategic location facing the Meuse River.  Unfortunately the Germans broke through the Maginot Line and approached this bunker from the rear - no gun emplacements faced in the direction of the German attack.  We know the story of how the Maginot Line failed its intended purpose - as a consequence so did this and many other bunkers like it.
French Bunker near Sedan, France
French WWI Cemetery near Verdun, France
L'Ossuaire de Douaumont

The Douaumont Ossuary near Verdun, France is one of the great monuments to those who gave their lives during WWI.  From August 1914 until the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the battlefield around Verdun, France saw not a single day without a bombardment.  By the end of the war the ground had become a chaotic desert, stripped of all vegetation, covered only by corpses torn to pieces and littered with human bones.  Only one third of the 360,00 french lives lost here were ever  identified.  Through small widows in the Ossuary one clearly sees the bones - arms, hips, sculls, legs, ribs - of the unidentified.  The cemetery is an amazing sight but even more amazing are the piles of bones contained in the Ossuary.  The destruction of war!!

Again, a good reminder of why Armistice Day/Onze November is so important to the people of France.  Thanks to our assignment to inspect young missionary apartments we are able to encounter such reminders of war and understand a little better the people we serve.
The Douaumont Ossuary - WWI - Argonne Forest near Verdun
Brother Herve Taillard - Charleville-Mezieres Branch
Members of the Charleville-Mezieres Branch

Brother Herve Taillard has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for about four years now.  He is a friend of the Church and lives most of the commandments but we do not see him as often as we would like.

Herve is currently an unemployed electrician who lives within the limits of the City of Charleville-Mezieres.  We have the pleasure of seeing him on the streets from time to time, often snacking on a sack of bon-bons that he came to town to purchase.  Probably not the best thing as he is diabetic.  He also has other health problems and is currently walking with a crutch as he recently hurt one of his legs.

Brother Taillard enjoys attending our soirees where there is plenty of food, fun and good company.  He recently requested and interview and we had a nice long talk.  We are hopeful that Herve will frequent our Sunday meetings more consistently.


  1. Great post! I shared it to facebook. Did you notice that the coq's head is a stylized fleur-de-lis? (Combining two symbols of France.) Your effort to capture a sanglier reminds of our our "Utah Cutthroat Slam." What would be the equivalent French Slam? Sanglier, Chamois, and what two other natural sites? A truffle in the wild maybe? What else. Love the WWI reminders!

  2. If you ever return to the "fortified farm" in Your photo, check to see if the "gun turret" is not instead a colombier or pigeonnier - a tower for raising pigeons (for eggs & meat, for sport, & maybe even for insect control). Such pigeon towers ("dovecote" in English) are very common in French chateaux and farms. I suppose the Maquis snipers also could've hidden in there to take pot shots at the Germans.