After seeing the fortified castle of Vic-sur-Seille, we walked through a narrow street to reach the center of the village. It was easy but I wondered at first if we could get lost. So the church would be our landmark.
We arrived near another square where children were enjoying the spring fair, merry-go-round, cotton candy and duck fishing. It is also the square where you can find the Tourist Office.
It is in the Hôtel de la Monnaie, a big house built in the second half of the 16th century (the balcony was added at the beginning of the 20th century). In spite of its name, Hôtel de la Monnaie means "hotel of the coins", there is no proof any coin was made there.
Then we walked around the village, saw more half-timbered houses, bridges above the small river called la Seille, and found the main square where the other part of the spring fair was. People were selling food, clothes, small things and cars. It was very lively.
It was worth doing this trip to Vic-sur-Seille, and we haven't visited the museum about Georges de la Tour, the painter, yet. He was born there.
When we arrived in Vic-sur-Seille last Sunday, we discovered the spring fair was going on and that we had to park out of the center of this big village. Driving a bit further away, we found a square with children playing on the grass and just near them two big towers with the remains of what used to be a drawbridge.
In Vic-sur-Seille springs with salted water brought an important income, so important that, in the 13th century, a bishop called Bertram de Metz decided to build a fortified castle to protect them.
Later, bishops of Metz came to live in Vic-sur-Seille all year long, then to have breaks there. So they changed the castle. In the 16th century, 7 meters high towers were built to replace the old entrance building (which was higher). This is the part we can see today, with part of the moats and of a big wall.
The castle became barracks for soldiers of Napoleon and a fire destroyed a big part of it in 1815. The towers were repaired at the end of the 19th century and the work was really finished recently.
After a short walk on the castle square, we visited the village and this was another pleasant discovery.
In 1920, a French military cemetery was built in Courbesseaux for the soldiers who died in the area during WW1, a lot during the battle of Grand Couronné in August and September 1914.
There are now 2679 French soldiers in this necropolis, in 976 graves and 2 ossuaries, one on each side of the main path. A lot of names are missing and families may know soldiers died near Courbesseaux but won't be sure where they have been buried.
In the center of the cemetery, Eugène Gatelet, a sculptor, made a monument in 1924. It shows a country man wearing clogs, who is putting flowers on the grave of a soldier mort pour la France (who died for France).
The cemetery is out of the village and from there you can see the countryside. It was beautiful last Sunday, and so peaceful. It is difficult to imagine that 101 years ago this area was the place of a terrible battle which killed so many soldiers but also helped France not to be invaded by German armies.
When I wrote the article about spring days two weeks ago, I was happy to have warmer days but pollution had spoiled the beginning of the new season a bit. It is different now.
Apart from Saturday morning, last week was very pleasant and sunny. Yesterday it was warm and so bright again. A lot of people were walking, riding bicycles ; children were playing outside. We all enjoyed this spring day.
To have a change we decided to have a short trip to Hoévile to the viewpoint indicator. We saw the Vosges mountain from there but a bit in the mist.
Then we stopped in Courbesseaux at the French military cemetery. I had not been there for more than forty years. I will write an article about it, there is quite a lot to say about this place.
One sunny week, from Easter Monday, was enough to let daisies and violets flower, and also a few cowslips. And grass is definitely greener. Trees are colourful too.
This week end was perfect to forget all the grey months of last winter. Such a nice change.
When we were in Pont-à-Mousson in March, an association was celebrating Napoleon years showing what people used to eat at this time but also marching in the corridors with a drummer to draw the attention of visitors.
And in the last few weeks we have seen more about Napoleon on television and about the Cent Jours (a hundred days) when the emperor came back to France in 1815 from Elba Island.
I have checked if Napoleon the emperor, or Bonaparte as he was called earlier, stopped in Lorraine. I am not sure if he did, really. His aide-de-camp is said to have come to Anthelupt, 30 minutes away from Nancy,and asked for food. He only got hard boiled eggs and this is nowadays the name of the inn he stopped at, L'Auberge des Oeufs Durs. Troops of Napoleon have also been near Saint-Avold in Moselle. And his sisters used to go to Plombières in the Vosges to enjoy the spa town.
Well, 200 years later, we speak about him, see his soldiers around but his presence in Lorraine is not obvious. I can't remember about it in my history lessons. Anyway all these costumes are quite pleasant to look at.