Crumball Rally Day 2 - Boulogne to Auxerre, France

Trip Start May 01, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Burgundy,
Friday, November 20, 2009

In the morning we drove to the first checkpoint to meet the rest of the cars/drivers and to receive our challenges for the day.

It was great fun meeting up with the other drivers and seeing their cars. There was a real mixture, including an Austin Allegro ("All Agro"), a Vauxhall Calibra, a pair of Porsches, an old Mercedes, another Skoda (a newer station wagon), a Honda Accord and a really well decorated Ford Mondeo. The Mondeo was a team of firefighters, who happened to know a graffiti artist, so he painted their car for them, and it looked fantastic, as you'll see in my photos.

Included in our challenges for the day was a task to take a picture of a V1 flying bomb from World War Two. We were given a hint that there was one in the foyer of La Coupole, a base which was built by the Germans in World War Two to fire V2 rockets at London, so we drove there (via the wrong museum outside of St Omer, which happened to be closed). As we all had an interest in WW2, we decided to do the full tour of the facility. I found it very interesting (I'd seen a documentary on the V weapons and LA Coupole) but also very grim...knowing that it was all built by POW slave labourers, forced to work at gunpoint to the point of starvation and death, was not nice.
The complex was made up of a huge concrete dome built into the side of a large hill, with a maze of tunnels providing access. It was designed to allow safe construction of the V2 bombs inside the dome, which could then be transported out to the firing area by a small railway.
It was a fascinating place, and to know that Hitler knew of, and possibly visited this site, was quite eerie. Inside was a V1 flying bomb, a V2 which was taken to the USA after the war to aid their rocket program then gifted back to the French, and an exhibition of photos and accounts of the holocaust and life in German POW camps...all of which was very sobering. One of the most shocking parts was a photo of an SS officer about to shoot a Jewish woman and her child in the back of the head...truly awful stuff.

After completing the tour, we drove on to Auxerre, a town south west of Paris. As we took a bit of a detour away from the shortest route there (which included being taken on a dodgy, puddle ridden gravel road through a vineyard by the GPS) we arrived well after the sun went down. Our hotel was right on the river passing through the town, and after unloading the car we got some great photos of the cathedral lit up at night, reflecting off ot he river. We met up in the Les Brimborions Bar (which according to google translator, is 'The Knick-Knacks'!). As we arrived so late, the only food place open was a small kebab-ery, so that made it an easy choice. When talking to the others at the bar, we heard that we had two casualties on the rally so far - the old Mercedes suffered from a brake master cylinder failing, and the Austin Allegro had a broken fuel pump. Both teams had breakdown cover however, and so were able to get a hire car and carry on for the rest of the rally while their cars were fixed/posted back to England. We did find it a bit amusing that the Mercedes team were given a Skoda hire car, which made it to the end of the rally!
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