Our final stopping point, where we were planning to spend a restful two nights before a long drive up to Calais, was Oradour-sur-Glane, which has a rather excellent aire (sp. Aire de Repos, click here for a video).
Situated just to the north-west of Limoges, Oradour is best known as the scene of one of the worst Nazi atrocities to take place in France. On 10th June, 1944, soldiers of the SS Das Reich division murdered 642 of the town’s residents, including 193 children. Much of the town was then burned to the ground, and has remained thus ever since, as a memorial to those who died.
The remains of the village are hauntingly complete – along with the rusted remains of cars, bicycles, sewing machines, pumps and all manner of other items, the town’s tramlines and electricity wires are almost perfectly intact. The impression is one of life brutally curtailed and a stark reminder that this happened, in western Europe, just 66 years ago.
Post-war Oradour was rebuilt alongside the ruins of the old town which are, inevitably, something of a tourist attraction now, in a similar but lesser way to the big concentration camp sites, like Dachau, in Germany. Admission to the Village Martyr, as it’s known, is free, but slightly strangely, visitors who want to see the accompanying exhibition in the memorial centre do have to pay an admission fee.
All that remained to do after leaving Oradour-sur-Glane was to make our way to Calais and then home on the ferry.