Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

JBee

Next week's Somme visit.

Recommended Posts

JBee

Hi all

 

I've only just joined but have been reading posts for a good while now.  I love all the info and support on here. I've just been off work ill for the last week so have had time to read many (many!) posts. I'm learning so much and find the more I know, the further into the subject I want to go. I now have an impressive library of books from recommendations on here and love the in-depth reports from those who were there and those who have studied it. It truly is fascinating and compelling.

 

I'm driving solo to the Somme area Mon 2nd Sept and will be there for 5 days. It's a challenging thing for me to do as I suffer from depression, but I want to push myself to go.It's a pilgrimage and yet it's something I can't put my finger on, no relatives were in the war, both my grandfathers were too young (16 & 17) and wouldn't have been allowed by their parents even if they had wanted to! I've read posts on here from people who feel the same, as if the men out there are wanting us to be visit, for their stories to be heard.

 

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I'm getting slightly anxious now about the whole journey. I've got third party cover as standard on my car insurance but wondered if I should make it comprehensive? I know we have to carry V5 and car insurance certificates and all the car kit such as high-viz etc. I have a tyre pump, health card, mobile phone coverage and even today have been writing the British consulate number for Paris in my notebook!

 

I suppose I'm just after reassurance. I have been so long waiting for this trip that to have a low of depression that floors me only a week prior has unsettled me. I have ferries booked, accommodation booked, list of places to visit and have been on Google Street View so often I feel as if I've been there already.

 

From what I read, many of you have been out there regularly , is there anything I might have missed in the 'preparation' for the trip?  No idea even where I'm going to get petrol out there so maybe someone can start with that? Many thanks, in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michelle Young

Most supermarkets have petrol stations, not always manned, so you have to pay at pump with credit card. Like the UK, petrol in motorway service stations is more expensive. Be aware that if you go into a village and there's a road sign with a yellow diamond, it means that you have to give way to traffic joining on the right, which can be very disconcerting! 

Have a fantastic time, well done for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking the plunge to go over. 

 

Michelle 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jervis

Hi JBee. 

 

It sounds like you are really well prepared for the trip and the most important thing to do is relax and enjoy the trip! 

 

 The Somme area has nice countryside; quiet and peaceful with lots of interesting historical sites. I would suggest not to “over plan” the trip and stress yourself with a strict timeframe. Pick a couple of key items you want to see and leave plenty of time for just enjoying the trip and the unplanned. 

 

Have a great trip. I am jealous. 

Jervis. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
aengland

Sound advice from Michelle above.... I have always found that driving on the right hand side of the road an easy thing to do; indeed I have in the past have had to really concentrate on driving on the left when I get back to the UK!

 

Take your time.... and relax into the experience.  Go with the idea that you are going to enjoy it, and you surely will.  Have your maps ready, plan your route; better still if you have a SatNav.  My SatNav works just as well in France as in the UK.   

 

'Stop' signs in France do mean 'stop'! It sounds absurd but to the French police 'Stop' is very different to 'Give Way'.  I always absolutely stop, count to two and then set off.  A friend was ambushed by a gendarme in front of me, for not stopping (i.e. dead still) and paid £80+ for the privilege!  French drivers may do it differently but I take no chances.

 

I assume that you have a place to stay.... always a good idea that!

 

Keep a log of where you have been, note things that move you, made you emotional, interested you, ideas to chase up on your return, things that were positive, and even things that didn't go according to plan (and find time to laugh at the latter! seriously, do that).  

 

Just think that this will be the first of many such experiences.... and have a great time. And you will.

 

Andrew

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
aengland

JBee

 

If I had read your post fully, then I would have seen that you do have a place to stay.... may I enquire where?  Is it in the heart of the Somme?  You will find that much of the obvious sites are fairly close to each other.  Have a great time.  You will be fine; the most difficult thing was deciding that you were going to go!

 

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michelle Young

Oh, and a good tip is to take a photo of the cemetery name before you enter. That way when you sort your photos you won't be scratching your head looking at your pictures when you get back! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chaz

as Michelle mentioned , the right hand junctions are a pain, many village ones also have priority but most are not signposted. no yellow diamonds. over the last three years our village has gone from unmarked to a white line and stop signs. unless signed ASSUME traffic pulling out have right of way. general rule is if they have a white line across their exit they have to stop BUT beware. also speed limits, 55mph is around 80kmph, 30mph around 50kmph and many villages and towns have 30kmph speed limits usually near the school.

try to keep to the limits, figures I give are approximate as cant read speedo to close tolerances when driving.

google French speed cameras, they come in many shapes and sizes from posts 3" square to half sized Reliant Robins that get towed from village to village, generally all are painted grey with just a sngle strip of diagonal black and yellow tape to identify.

we top up our insurance with continental cover and breakdown cover, we have had to be recovered once and it was a trial. available from your insurance company for as little as £25.

have you got your E111? wont have them for much longer!!

you should have two breathalysers in the car, although they are not calibrated , the gendarmes wont rely on them but you must have them, if driving at night need headlamp converters, all should be available at places like MAidstone services or Eurotunnel presumably at Docks as well.

the hiviz is in the car with you as you are supposed to put it on before you get out, not get out and then fish it out of the boot.

 

pm sent

Edited by chaz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
harley1962

If you have a sat nav a good idea is to download from the cwgc site a file of all the cemeteries that can easily be transferred to your sat nav.

Are you self catering ? We always take some essentials to start with but there are supermarkets in Albert and Perrone.

Don't forget waterproofs, walking boots, rucksack and a flask.

Don't worry too much, just enjoy your time there and what you cannot fit in this time there is always next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
3 hours ago, Michelle Young said:

Most supermarkets have petrol stations, not always manned, so you have to pay at pump with credit card. Like the UK, petrol in motorway service stations is more expensive. Be aware that if you go into a village and there's a road sign with a yellow diamond, it means that you have to give way to traffic joining on the right, which can be very disconcerting! 

Have a fantastic time, well done for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking the plunge to go over. 

 

Michelle 

Thanks for the encouraging words Michelle. It is a long planned for trip and not one I would want anything to stop me from doing.

Re the petrol pumps, do they accept only credit cards or debit cards as well?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
48 minutes ago, harley1962 said:

If you have a sat nav a good idea is to download from the cwgc site a file of all the cemeteries that can easily be transferred to your sat nav.

Are you self catering ? We always take some essentials to start with but there are supermarkets in Albert and Perrone.

Don't forget waterproofs, walking boots, rucksack and a flask.

Don't worry too much, just enjoy your time there and what you cannot fit in this time there is always next.

Hi Harley (my dog share dog's name!)

 

I'm in a B&B so breakfast only then eating wherever is open! I've got a few places earmarked.

 

Looking at going back over Christmas (Brexit permiting) though and may do self catering at that time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
1 hour ago, chaz said:

as Michelle mentioned , the right hand junctions are a pain, many village ones also have priority but most are not signposted. no yellow diamonds. over the last three years our village has gone from unmarked to a white line and stop signs. unless signed ASSUME traffic pulling out have right of way. general rule is if they have a white line across their exit they have to stop BUT beware. also speed limits, 55mph is around 80kmph, 30mph around 50kmph and many villages and towns have 30kmph speed limits usually near the school.

try to keep to the limits, figures I give are approximate as cant read speedo to close tolerances when driving.

google French speed cameras, they come in many shapes and sizes from posts 3" square to half sized Reliant Robins that get towed from village to village, generally all are painted grey with just a sngle strip of diagonal black and yellow tape to identify.

we top up our insurance with continental cover and breakdown cover, we have had to be recovered once and it was a trial. available from your insurance company for as little as £25.

have you got your E111? wont have them for much longer!!

you should have two breathalysers in the car, although they are not calibrated , the gendarmes wont rely on them but you must have them, if driving at night need headlamp converters, all should be available at places like MAidstone services or Eurotunnel presumably at Docks as well.

the hiviz is in the car with you as you are supposed to put it on before you get out, not get out and then fish it out of the boot.

 

pm sent

Hi Chaz and thanks for the reply.

 

Yes did renew the E111 but know it will be useless after 31.10 by the look of things. Just a precaution I guess.

 

Your help is invaluable re the stop signs, speed cameras etc. HI-viz will be in car. not boot. 

 

Think will get extra cover above third party. Just cause I'm cautious, doesnt mean others are!

 

 

2 hours ago, Michelle Young said:

Oh, and a good tip is to take a photo of the cemetery name before you enter. That way when you sort your photos you won't be scratching your head looking at your pictures when you get back! 

Great tip. Never considered that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
2 hours ago, aengland said:

JBee

 

If I had read your post fully, then I would have seen that you do have a place to stay.... may I enquire where?  Is it in the heart of the Somme?  You will find that much of the obvious sites are fairly close to each other.  Have a great time.  You will be fine; the most difficult thing was deciding that you were going to go!

 

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Andrew

 

Yes, staying Bernafay Wood! So can walk to a fair few places around there without more driving so will do that area initially. I've read quite a bit this week about the battles around Guillemont/Ginchy including by Ernst Junger. Incredible and awe inspiring stories.

 

Also plan a visit to Serre as am from Sheffield so need to pay respects to the lads out there.

 

I honestly cannot wait. 

3 hours ago, Jervis said:

Hi JBee. 

 

It sounds like you are really well prepared for the trip and the most important thing to do is relax and enjoy the trip! 

 

 The Somme area has nice countryside; quiet and peaceful with lots of interesting historical sites. I would suggest not to “over plan” the trip and stress yourself with a strict timeframe. Pick a couple of key items you want to see and leave plenty of time for just enjoying the trip and the unplanned. 

 

Have a great trip. I am jealous. 

Jervis. 

 

 

Thank you Jervis. I am really REALLY looking forward to this trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chaz

I use my NatWest debit card at the Leclerc or Carrefour self serve pumps, when I get back I usually get a better exchange rate than if I had taken cash bought here, if using a manned kiosk a local Carrefour fuel station the operative sits in a small shed and passes the card machine out to you , you punch your number and return to him. if travelling on your own , a bit of a pain as you would have to get out and walk around the car. the small opening in the shed is only big enough for the machine and angled to suit drivers sat in their cars.

 

as doing B&B , we used to pick up a bowl of salad and easy food to eat in the room during the evening, hopefuly you should have a tv and tea making things, expect croissants and boiled eggs not a full English.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jervis
3 hours ago, chaz said:

you should have two breathalysers in the car, although they are not calibrated , the gendarmes wont rely on them but you must have them, if driving at night 

 

And “the fine” if you don’t have  a breathalyser is....zero.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ServiceRumDiluted

Hi JBee, nice to have another Sheffielder here. I always find driving in France to be a much more relaxing experience than driving in the UK. (Especially after driving along Woodseats Rd at School run time!) A solo trip can be difficult at the Peage gates as you will need to lean across the passenger seat!  So, though a little longer, I often take the A roads, and it is a real pleasure, they lend themselves to pootling along and I never met a French driver yet who was reticent about overtaking, so let them by and enjoy the view.  Take the boys at Serre a bottle of Hendos for me and enjoy your trip.

Edited by ServiceRumDiluted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ricard 51

Bonsoir JBee....Be vigilant on the roads and do keep an eye on the speed. Roads are much better than in england though. Excellent supermarkets and boulangeries in both Bapaume and Albert.Various restos and brasseries around all offering reasonable choice at fair prices. As in england we too suffer from pikeys and other low lifes here that delight in stealing from parked vehicles in more remote spots. They know that  foreign visitors wandering around cemeteries and memorials will more than likely  be carrying both the kitchen sink and more likely the family jewels.  Easy pickings for the vagabond crew who,due to our super road system,can be on the autoroute and out of france before you can say gendarme!. This info is not meant to alarm you but merely to assist. People here are helpful and respect visitors to our sector. Above all do enjoy your stay and l'm sure that you will be back for more. Remember that you have the knowledge of many  amazing folk on this forum who are only too willing to both assist and enrich your visit. Oh...  and do tell our friend at serre that the colonel says bonjour. He is a good man.Bonne route et bon vacances JBee.

Edited by Ricard 51
Spelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jay dubaya

There be Sheffield folk everywhere SRD, and pleased to know Woodseats is still the same at school run.

 

The traffic joining from the right is probably the hardest thing to get your head around whilst driving in France it doesn’t always make sense. Most petrol pumps will accept credit and debit cards as will the tolls on the peage.

Bernafey Wood is a perfect place to stay and easily get to other places from there, you’ll have a memorable time where ever you go JBee

 

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ricard 51

Bonsoir JBee.... if you are a first time driver in france it's a good idea to always.... THINK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT.  Having dealt with many road  collisions over the years involving english drivers it is often the case that the problem occurred when the driver returned to the road having stopped to obtain fuel, or visiting a point of interest or after having made a stop at a bar(naughty, naughty). They had simply reverted to thinking english and re- commenced their journey  driving to the left. An easy but sometimes fatal error!. If you remain vigilant you will find our roads to be in very good order with few, if any potholes and a joy to drive on. Most english drivers are happy driving their right hand drive vehicles in france. Just be cautious and allow more time when considering an overtaking manoeuvre because of the slightly reduced vision, but then, why the rush, as you are on holiday after all. JBee, you will have a wonderful experience visiting la somme  for the first time and there wil be great memories a plenty  for you. Enjoy the moment!.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
On 22/08/2019 at 21:46, ServiceRumDiluted said:

Hi JBee, nice to have another Sheffielder here. I always find driving in France to be a much more relaxing experience than driving in the UK. (Especially after driving along Woodseats Rd at School run time!) A solo trip can be difficult at the Peage gates as you will need to lean across the passenger seat!  So, though a little longer, I often take the A roads, and it is a real pleasure, they lend themselves to pootling along and I never met a French driver yet who was reticent about overtaking, so let them by and enjoy the view.  Take the boys at Serre a bottle of Hendos for me and enjoy your trip.

Hello!

 

I actually live at Woodseats, so know the bottleneck well!  I did wonder how I would manage paying at toll but I'll sort it somehow!

 

I'm really looking forward to it. There's a young fella from Woodseats buried in Railway Hollow so am taking a small cross for him (and others). HIs folks are buried in Norton Cemetery on the hill above Woodseats and he is mentioned on their headstone there. 

 

Already got the Hendo's. One as a gift for the farmer at Serre and one for my hosts.  

 

Really looking forward to it all. 

On 22/08/2019 at 20:25, Jervis said:

 

And “the fine” if you don’t have  a breathalyser is....zero.

I'd heard that. Not sure I want to chance it with CHARMANT :thumbsup: gendarmes though so will err on the side of  caution! :-)

Edited by JBee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken Lees

As you are staying at Bernafay Wood, just be aware that finding somewhere for lunch in the locality is nigh on impossible. None of the local villages has a cafe where you can can anything more than a drink. If you head into Albert there is a reasonable choice. You can't help spotting McDonalds on your way into the town, and whilst I wouldn't recommend it, next door there is an excellent boulangerie where you can buy a huge, filled baguette, pizza slices, etc. for lunch. Lots of tourists eat there and the staff can speak enough English to help you out.

 

If you send me a private message I will give you my phone number in case you need anything while you're over there. I have a house a couple of miles from your B&B and will be happy to help if you need an English voice.

 

Have a great trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
23 hours ago, Ricard 51 said:

Bonsoir JBee....Be vigilant on the roads and do keep an eye on the speed. Roads are much better than in england though. Excellent supermarkets and boulangeries in both Bapaume and Albert.Various restos and brasseries around all offering reasonable choice at fair prices. As in england we too suffer from pikeys and other low lifes here that delight in stealing from parked vehicles in more remote spots. They know that  foreign visitors wandering around cemeteries and memorials will more than likely  be carrying both the kitchen sink and more likely the family jewels.  Easy pickings for the vagabond crew who,due to our super road system,can be on the autoroute and out of france before you can say gendarme!. This info is not meant to alarm you but merely to assist. People here are helpful and respect visitors to our sector. Above all do enjoy your stay and l'm sure that you will be back for more. Remember that you have the knowledge of many  amazing folk on this forum who are only too willing to both assist and enrich your visit. Oh...  and do tell our friend at serre that the colonel says bonjour. He is a good man.Bonne route et bon vacances JBee.

Bonsoir Ricard.

 

I have a small gift for our friend at Serre from Sheffield, and will also pass on your wishes. I'm actually hoping to see him now!

 

I'm not alarmed, even being alone on quiet lanes or in fields. It sounds tranquil and peaceful from what I read, so different now to the horror of what went before.

 

My car is cheap, and old and I will carry little with me so thieves will be very disappointed. Even in Sheffield I can leave it unlocked anywhere and it has never been touched. It's so bad that no-one wants it! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
2 minutes ago, Ken Lees said:

As you are staying at Bernafay Wood, just be aware that finding somewhere for lunch in the locality is nigh on impossible. None of the local villages has a cafe where you can can anything more than a drink. If you head into Albert there is a reasonable choice. You can't help spotting McDonalds on your way into the town, and whilst I wouldn't recommend it, next door there is an excellent boulangerie where you can buy a huge, filled baguette, pizza slices, etc. for lunch. Lots of tourists eat there and the staff can speak enough English to help you out.

 

If you send me a private message I will give you my phone number in case you need anything while you're over there. I have a house a couple of miles from your B&B and will be happy to help if you need an English voice.

 

Have a great trip.

Ken, that is so kind, thank you.

 

I will send you a PM. Jill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ricard 51

Bonsoir JBee .... s'il vous plaît, not all us  gendarmes are grumpy!!. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBee
10 minutes ago, Ricard 51 said:

Bonsoir JBee .... s'il vous plaît, not all us  gendarmes are grumpy!!. 

Ricard, je m'excuse!

 

I did not know you were a gendarme. I have amended my statement. 

 

It was meant in fun. :thumbsup:

Edited by JBee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KIRKY

Our first trip to the Somme way back we nearlyt starved! But be aware that some places to eat close at weekends or early in the week. Our favourites are Stomboli in Baupaume, Tommies in Poziers, Corner Pub in Albert , many places in Peronne and a Chinese Buffet in Albert!

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...