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Remembered Today:

Bar in Fricourt


Petroc
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Guys n Gals,

a rather overdue message considering that my last trip to the WF battlefields was in the Spring of this year, but it occurred to me that the service in the bar in the village centre (I regret i forget the name, though I believe there was a degree of British hilarity associated with the name) needs a major plug. Me and my gang hit it on a lazy Sunday lunchtime, no food available, and the landlord told us that things were tight for village buisnessmen in the area and how he reckoned the people in Amiens and Arras were draining his potential income away; Nonetheless, he immediately sent his mate out to a local supermarket or whatever and within an hour our crew were tucking into plates of chips, omelettes, salads, etc, all cooked by his missus that he'd asked to come downstairs on our behalf. He also presented one of our party with a souvenir beer glass as a memento.

So if you're in the area, and he's open, give him a go; this kind of hospitality on the battlefield itself is wonderful

Andy

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Needs must, I guess Paul, but like you say it's good to see at least one village in the area willing to cater for casual drop-in visitor without at all compromising the integrity of normal day-to-day life. The landlord was a great guy, furnished us with a number of well-pulled ales, and set us all on a rather jocular return route to our vehicles (I might add it was your Bois Francais-Mametz-Fricourt walk we were doing at the time, so I might hold you semi-responsible for the mutliple choruses of 'hello, hello, who's your lady friend?' as we wound our ale-laden way back over the country paths to the cars!!!)

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When I first wrote the book I was going to put a symbol in indicating whether it was a 'wet' or 'dry' walk. Sadly that information would have been out of date within a few years, as so many Somme bars have closed.

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Things change, as with people, priorities and developments mate. Not dissimilar to anywhere I suppose. As I 've posted previously (probably a few years back now) there is an understandable desire for members of the Commonwealth to keep things as they are but an equally understandable movement in France and Belgium to permit the economic development of the region which they view (justifiably) as free, liberated and therefore open to investment and expansion. Maybe a difficult one to us Brits, Irish and those from the more distant parts of the Commonwealth to grasp?

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Absolutely. My feeling was that it was more a testimony to how the French countryside is fragmenting rather than anything else. A sad thing to see so many villages with nothing at all, and ever diminishing population.

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Not that different to rural parts of the UK, I guess!

Being over there, Paul, and not wishing in any way to denigrate or demean the respectful efforts of individuals and organisations, do you think that some modern memorials have been 'ok'd' by local communities in F&F with an unstated but totally natural desire to attract folks and thereby to encourage them to spend money? I realise some who might read this might write back with somewhat assaulting replies, but I think it's a valid question

Andy

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I don't think so, to be honest. In all the cases I know of, ground has been given or support leant simply because the local commune wants to be seen to do the right thing. There are many smaller gestures that take place in background that most never hear of, and no-one has anything financially or otherwise to gain from them, but in several cases they have everything to offer. I can only speak for France, but I cannot see that it is any different in Belgium.

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Andy & Paul,

I used this bar several years ago when I popped in there on a freezing February lunch time, after I had foolishly agreed to a mountain bike trip, there was no food on offer but a very kind local took pity on us and leaving his Pastis on the bar took us in his car to the bakers (only approx 100 meteres away) where we purchased ham/cheese baguettes that they invited us to eat in the bar!

Regards,

Scottie.

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Not that different to rural parts of the UK, I guess!

Being over there, Paul, and not wishing in any way to denigrate or demean the respectful efforts of individuals and organisations, do you think that some modern memorials have been 'ok'd' by local communities in F&F with an unstated but totally natural desire to attract folks and thereby to encourage them to spend money? I realise some who might read this might write back with somewhat assaulting replies, but I think it's a valid question

Andy

Perfectly valid. I think some would call it Cultural Tourism - linked closely to community and past and heritage and industry, though I suppose one could argue that cultural tourism is less about the protection of indigenous cultural identity and more about the promotion of a particular area as a cultural site of interest. More specifically: the battlefields and memorials of the Western Front in this case. The question is: what are the socio-economic and regional benefits which might be gained through tourism. From what both Paul and yourself have said there do not appear to be too many if things are proving tight in a number of villages outside the larger conurbations.

Regards

Al

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That's very good to hear, and despite my apparently cynical request for information it confirms my own impression of the heartfelt appreciation of local people in the liberated areas; my mind also goes back in a similar vein to people in Normandy in a later conflict and to those in Holland in the vicinity of the September '44 drops, despite the amount of civilian casualties incurred in both operations.

It is also a terrible, though utterly undersandable (I have a friend with Polish roots who lost 90% of his family) shame that the hideous crimes of committed by a later generation of European invaders means that it is difficult for so, so many people to also remember the deaths of young men from another army in another era, a shame that is perhaps reflected on their fathers and brothers who lie in France and Flanders but who never lived long enough to even see the barbarity of Nazism; invaders they may have been, but from what I have seen in some of the German cemeteriesI have visited, there was no distinction in death between Jew and Christian in the Great War

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Andy

Is it the L'Auberge'in, Rue d'Ipswich?, if so it's my favourite cafe/bar on the Somme, we always visit it when we are walking around Fricourt, guaranteed a great welcome from the owners and locals, recommend it to anyone walking around Fricourt.

Regards Doug.

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this bar in Fricourt is a great place to visit. A few of us a couple of years ago were doing a walk on a rather wet day and the owner kindly allowed us to munch our food in his cafe and we gladly ordered a few glasses of wine/coffee in return. Sadly there doesn't seem to much locla trade in the cafe these days.

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Doug,

Recollections are that it isn't the place you've mentioned, our gang had spent a number of hours tramping away and ended in the village and, I think one of ours might be able to show if I e-mail him, much Tommy-kind of humour was vented by the fact that the place concerned was called something like 'the big cock' or something similarly sniggerish to those of us with that childish sense of humour and a woefully awful command of the French language. Nonetheless, as stated earlier, if anyone is on the Somme and fancies a pint or five drop in there, the welcome is strong and the ale washes away a battlefield walkers thirst!

Andy

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Andy

The one I'm thinking of sort of sits high above the village square. Whichever it is, it seems that everyone gets a good welcome in Fricourt :D

Doug.

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Andy

The one I'm thinking of sort of sits high above the village square. Whichever it is, it seems that everyone gets a good welcome in Fricourt :D

Doug.

The Bar where you practiced your spoken French to order us all a round of coffee's and beers during our annual visit to see Roy's cap badge.

Stephen

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I had a similar experience in one of the bars in Hebuterne once where baguettes, pate and salad appeared despite no food being available, and also in Violaines where Wayne and I had a great meal after the proprietor nipped out to a local shop to get some food for us.

Michelle

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Andy

The one I'm thinking of sort of sits high above the village square. Whichever it is, it seems that everyone gets a good welcome in Fricourt :D

Doug.

We walked into Fricourt from the Mametz road, passed the signs to the German military cemetery and then into the village itself; one of our gang is diabetic and needed some sustainance and on peering around the bar was above us on our right with the sloping green at about two o'clock from us. A rather amateurish location description I admit (!) but is it the same place you've mentioned?

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I had a similar experience in one of the bars in Hebuterne once where baguettes, pate and salad appeared despite no food being available, and also in Violaines where Wayne and I had a great meal after the proprietor nipped out to a local shop to get some food for us.

Michelle

It's something special isn't it Michelle? Whilst there's an obvious economic imperitive behind such gestures it's always hard to disassociate respect for what happened all those years ago from a simple 'pint and a sarnie'. Fair play to them all, and I hope that Forum members on their trips to the battlefields will patronise local bars and cafes to the year dot, just as their ancestors did

Kind regards,

Andy

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We walked into Fricourt from the Mametz road, passed the signs to the German military cemetery and then into the village itself; one of our gang is diabetic and needed some sustainance and on peering around the bar was above us on our right with the sloping green at about two o'clock from us. A rather amateurish location description I admit (!) but is it the same place you've mentioned?

That sounds like it to me, there's a rather nice French memorial in front of the green near to the road.

Stephen

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Just back from the Somme with a party of 6, shame this wasn,t on just a couple of days earlier. We spent some time looking for bars and lunch stops apart from the usual Le Tommy. La Poppy now appears to have gone upmarket from the good quality drivers stop it used to be now now all tableclothes and totally reserved. We found a similar friendly bar in Mailly Mallet on the high street to the left of the church where a hand written menu was produced within a few minutes. We had coq au vin and a bucket of chips, very good. Of course there is always Avrils Ocean villas but we were staying there so wanted to spread our wings a bit. The cafe at Grandcourt station appears very and perhaps finally shut anyone know if that is so?

Also ate out at the Hotel de Basilique in Albert Square ( No east enders pun intended) and at The Auberge D,Antoine i think it was, opposite the Historriel at Perrone, Both very good. Set menus at about 20-25e-s.

The auberge at Authille was absolutely chokker Sunday lunchtime apparently even has a michelin star now!!

Typical French sunday about 3pm when we peeped in and just about on the second course!!

SG

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