Travelling on Friday, a chance to visit a British War Cemetery close to Arras before checking-in to stay at a hotel in the heart of town, a former monastery. Saturday morning around the markets, into the see a spectacular exhibition on loan from Versailles 'Arras Vous Fait La Cour', then in the afternoon a choice of either joining the local Pride March or visit to the 'Historial De La Grande Guerre 1914 - 1918', the Battle Of The Somme at the Chateau de Peronne. Wine and dining that evening in the Grand Place.
On a glorious Sunday, a warm welcome and greeting by the walk leader Olivier in Place des Heros followed by introductions to the other handsome members of ChtiRandos. We embarked upon the 23km walk in and around Arras (city and countryside) passing another small British War Cemetery followed by a canal and waterway, the Place Victor Hugo, along to the Citadel, through a nature reserve to the Memorial Britannique designed by Lutyens. Picnics to share with wine flowing then out to the surrounding countryside and along the riverbank finishing the walk back in the centre of town in the Place des Heros for a welcome drink together and for some a bit more! A perfect day and sad to say "au revoir" to our new friends.
The following day on the return journey, an opportunity to pay our respects at La Necropole Nationale De Notre Dame De Lorette which contains the graves and the remains of French soldiers along with The Ring of Remembrance extending 300 metres, the biggest engraved memorial in the world which bears the names of the 580,000 soldiers, nurses and workers of all nationalities who fell in Flanders and the Artois. Lastly, before heading back to the ferry, a chance to pop-in to the new Louvre-Lens for a couple of hours.
An exceptional and memorable weekend. A massive thank you to Olivier and Nicolas for making it all possible, also to all the wonderful men who joined us in such a warm, friendly way, and their hospitality. It is sincerely hoped it is not long before we all meet again and can organise another event on either side of the Channel.
For those who may be interested in seeing more about the 'Pride March' (Diversity Parade) and perhaps even joining in next year, you may be interested to find out more, courtesy of Ahmed Smith on Facebook: Divertsity Parade Arras or on YouTube: Diversity Parade 2015 "2ieme Edition" @Arras.
Commentary, as follows - Known for its history and its beautiful baroque squares, Arras it turned an afternoon into a true temple of open house. Indeed they were about more than 500 to attend the second edition of the "Diversity parade" organized by the association ARTOGALION this Saturday, June 13, 2015. The weather was at the venue or the youth and the young have parades together rating next to the devilish rhythms sounds electro & techno for a single cause. The objective of this market's pride was first to actively combat all forms of discrimination against the "Gays, Bis, lesbians, transvestites and Friendly".