We parted ways with Ellen after a day of skiing in Chamonix and a night in Lyon, a lively city we all agreed rivals Paris in beauty. The weather was especially kind to us as we strolled along the riverbanks of the Saône in the late afternoon.
Continuing westward, Ben and I explored the medieval ruins of Chateau de Châlucet, a castle near Limoges occupied by the English during The Hundred Years War.
It was a cloudy day, and as we approached its crumbling watchtower I half expected to see the ghost of a wary sentinel inquiring as to the purpose of our visit. Parts of the castle were completely overgrown with ivy and bluebells sprouted freely along the crumbling ramparts.
Later that night, we stayed in a creaky B&B in the nearby village of Solignac. At breakfast, our gregarious host regaled us with his supernatural experience at Chateau de Châlucet where he witnessed La Dame Noire (a lady in all black – counterpart to the famed Dame Blanche) traversing a field in front of the castle and suddenly disappearing before his very eyes. I don’t disbelieve him.
The final stop on our homeward-bound journey was a sobering one. Oradour-sur-Glane was a small village massacred by Nazis on June 10, 1944. They murdered 642 people, including 193 children, and abandoned the town in flames. While a new town has since sprung up nearby, the original remains of Oradour-sur-Glane have been reverently left untouched since that horrific day.
As we walked down the burnt ruins of the main street, we passed rusted cars and hollow storefronts, espying everyday household items scattered among the rubble.
At the edge of town, an underground memorial listed the name and age of every victim. The youngest at 8 weeks had yet to be christened. I cried for them all.
Although an exceedingly somber site to visit, what remains of Oradour-sur-Glane is a powerful reminder of mankind’s senseless, violent tendencies that must be avoided at all cost.