Season: 2011

The Royal Road, March 12-Calais

Posted on Oct 4th, 2012 in Artists & Company

Date: March 12, 2011 | Author: John Tufts

AgincourtWrapping up our trip in Calais
Ahhh… Calais… You contain so many wonders: the imposing towers of malls, bustling, car-filled streets filled with rotund construction workers, and a beautiful coast lined with enormous, view-blocking-ferries. And here we are, holed up in one of your charming, boutique hotels with the pleasant aroma of French eau de disinfectant and a toilet you have to plug in to flush. What a way to end the French leg of our adventure!

Maybe this is for the best. If we were back in Etretat, we would be out climbing stunning cliffs overlooking the bluest waters. If we were in Fecamp, we’d be eating oysters, while watching the setting sun. If we were back in Heuchin, we’d be sipping wine with our lovely hosts, Richard and Vanessa, at the exquisite 18th Century Manor, Maison de Plumes, talking about yesterday’s visit to the Azincourt instead of writing about it. So thank you, Calais. You and this blustery, overcast day inspired us to stay indoors and get our work done. So here I am, writing a blog entry, while John edits another video.

Yesterday was a wonder. We left Amiens, crossed the River Somme, and arrived at the Medieval Center of Azincourt, by early afternoon.

The Monument to the Soldiers

The museum was simple, but remarkable for anyone with an interest in this material–a lot of hands-on exhibits with easy-to-understand explanations of the events leading up to and through the Battle of Azincourt. John got to hold Medieval weapons, look through the visors of helmets worn by English soldiers, and test the weight of the pull of a longbow. We walked through a room f
illed with 14th century artifacts, some of which were actually found in an excavation of the Azincourt Battlefield. Probably the most impressive exhibit was an 6’x8’ to-scale model of the battle, complete with miniature figures of King Henry, Charles D’Albret, English men-at-arms, and French horses impaled by pikes.

The museum also provided driving maps of the battlefield. Yes, the battlefield was so large we needed to drive around it. This surprised both of us, because most of the American battlefields we’ve seen, are pretty small. But when you figure this battle comprised of 5,000 to 8,000 English soldiers and somewhere between 15,000 to 25,000 French soldiers, the field to hold all 20,000-33,000 would have to be at least as large as this one. We circled it a few times, and I felt it again, the same feeling I got when we visited Shrewsbury, that sense that people died here. I’m not Haley Joel Osmet– it’s not like I “see dead people.” But when that many souls are lost in one place, you can’t help but feel the charge in the air that hangs above the site.

We left Azincourt and headed just north to Heuchin, where we stayed in the most beautiful home, had the best meal of our trip, and then drifted to sleep on a bed made from the feathers of angels’ wings. We woke to the smell of perfectly brewed coffee, ate croissants, brie, and fresh eggs laid by hens in the back yard. Then we drove to Calais.

Right… Calais, now that I’m done with this blog, you don’t look so good anymore.

There are two more videos left to come. As soon as they are edited, they will be up.