Dormans & Château-Thierry

The current of the river Marne pushed the Freshwater along, and in no time we were at our next destination, Dormans. 

We couldn’t complain about the $7 euros mooring fees inclusive electricity, next to a camping place with washing machine, dryer, mini golf and ice cream for sale at the reception. Austin and I crossed the river and walked to the 15th century Château de Dormans laying in a beautiful tree studded park. Overlooking the château is a (even for French standards) large war memorial containing a crypt, an upper chapel and Ossuary. The chapel contains WWI arms, uniforms and other paraphernalia.

By sunny weather and a fresh breeze we moved on down the Marne, enjoying the gentle wine covered hills dotted with old farm houses and the families of ducks, geese and swans floating by. 

The locks on this part of the Marne are sloped with floating pontoons usually only big enough for 2 boats in a row. The best thing is that they are activated by very modern remote controls. The controls display in text, flashing lights and ring tone the readiness and phase of a lock’s cycle.

Thus guided along we arrived at a town called Château-Thierry, the birth place of Jean de la Fontaine. 

A columned war monument overlooking the town and it’s adjoining American war cemetery reminds again of the horrors of war. It is a gift of the USA symbolising the friendship of the two countries forged in WWI. 

The old “Hotel Dieu” in town played an important part in WW2 when 52 members of the French resistance were transported to a prison camp and the train they were on was grapeshot by their comrades. They wounded were brought to this former hospital, from where a large number of them managed to escape a dire fate.

The town itself is scattered with colourful illustrations and sculptures of La Fontaine’s fables. 

We visited the magnificent house where the poet was born and spent most of his life. At the heights of Fontaine's fame well known artists were competing to illustrate his works. The walls of the house are full of those illustrations. Even the curtain fabrics and crockery in display cabinets are imprinted with motifs of his fables. Country and hunting excursions with his father gave Fontaine an affinity with the animals featuring in his fables. He also was inspired by Esop, see the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. Unknown to most people are his naughty,erotic tales which, at the time, shocked the church and the king, but were loved by his friends for their cheekiness. 

The first thing to do at Château-Thierry, is of course, to ascend the steps to the ramparts and remains of the castle. Inside daily bird shows entertain children and adults. Most impressive were a couple of bald eagles and some beautiful feathered owls.

Local eagles, falcons, buzzards and Alsatian storks complete the show.

In search of our Sunday croissants we walked into crowds of early morning bargain hunters as the streets of town were taken over by the biggest flea market we have seen so far. From antique and old to the practical and the quirky, there is hardly an item you couldn't find. I would have loved to shop for my grandchildren - lots of great toys!!!

Sunday afternoon we took it easy sitting in the sun, eating the French version of take away and ice cream bought from a van at the river bank. 

       Marcia’s Flea Market Purchase

© Austin Robinson 2019