Panther Enthusiasts Club UK
Annual French Trip
Coucy le Chateau September 3rd to 8th September 2008
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For this year's trip we were returning to the Belle Vue Hotel in the hilltop medieval village of Coucy Le Chateau, 250 feet above the valleys of the Oise and Ailette. Coucy lies northwest of Reims on the edge of the Forest of St Gobain. The views over the green and wooded countryside far below are beautiful. The towns ramparts were built around 1220 and are still almost complete in spite of its chequered career. Various feuding monarchs have demanded that the chateau be destructed and the Germans, who used it as their headquarters, had a go at it in 1917 with 28 tons of explosive. To their credit the town is slowly restoring the Chateau and town ramparts. Fortunately, there was no national project to rebuild Coucy in a similar manner to Carcassonne or the Chateau at Pierrefonds, consequently it hasn't become (yet) a great tourist attraction and it remains somewhere very pleasant to enjoy without hordes of tourists.
The hotel has only 8 rooms but we managed to accommodate the 23 people on the trip by also taking over a charming B&B also owned by the hotel. The Hotel is very French and both it and the B&B are within the town walls. The area abounds with scenic "D" roads which we used with good effect to get around without encountering much traffic. So empty were the roads that on the whole trip our 12 car convoy was only broken up on two occasions. A lot of credit for this must go to the drivers who kept a careful watch on the car behind and hung back if the car behind wasn't in view. Well done to you all!.
There were 12 cars on the trip, 9 Kallistas, an adopted Ferrari 308, an Audi TT belonging to long time Kallista owners Alan & Michele and Les and Pearls delivery van (they were on the way down to Spain in their Vauxhall saloon to see George & Shelagh with a load of household goods from No. 91). The full list of trippers was: Dave Turner, Peter & Leigh Heales, John & Linda Deed, Dennis & Pauline Power, Alan & Michele Grimbley, Les & Pearl Pratt, John & Sue Gibson, Tony & Sue Hulland, Nigel & Mary Plunkett, Terry & Larraine Hockley-Moore, Malcolm & Liz Jones and Roy & Jennifer Biddle.
On the whole the weather wasn't too bad. Friday was our worse day but other than that it was far better than that of the UK and hoods were down more than up.
I've broken this report up into daily pages, starting with the rendezvous at the Hotel De L'Escale at Escalles just outside Calais below Cap Blanc Nez. To see the small write up relating to each day together with the photographs just click on the links below:
Rendezvous Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Last Night
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