After passing through two locks, one of which was followed by thick vegetation, we stopped in Honnecourt-sur-Escaut. We walked downtown where there are scarcely a few dozen buildings. We found the bakery we were looking for and then set out to find the small eatery we saw on the map. We had no internet once in town so we stopped to ask a woman for directions. She said there was no place to eat in town but given that this is VE (Victory Europe) Day, the mayor was hosting a gathering just ahead in the Maire. We went in, up the stairs and into the busy room with probably about 50 people there.
Immediately we were greeted by a friendly 85 year old man, who found the Mayor for us. The Mayor brought over some “amuse bouche,” small fancy snacks that amuse your mouth. Then he brought over some champagne. We explained that our fathers fought in France during the war.
He asked how we came to be here. When he learned that we came by boat, he said he wanted to buy one he could live on with his girl friend, whom he invited to join us.
VE Day is a big deal in all of Europe. It’s a topic here complicated by the country’s capitulation to Germany and the Vichy regime, which some complain was more cooperative with the Nazis than necessary. Given the support that someone like LePen had in the just completed election, there is more cause to wonder if there was indeed more popular support for the Nazis than otherwise most of us thought.