It was great to have a more relaxed day yesterday at the Notre Dame du Haut and spend time looking around La Ronchamp Chapel by Franco-Swiss Architect Le Corbusier, it really is a is a stunning piece of Architecture. In terms of my road trip, I was at a bit of a metaphorical crossroads. I wanted to push on and maybe head across southern France towards Spain. I guess there is a sense of unfinished business from my last visit here.
I still really want to see and experience the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by American Architect Frank Gehry, plus of course, there is there is the work of Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona as well! However, my wife has just finished the first year of her MA at the Royal College of Art, so it would be great to get back home to catch up! 🙂 Looked a bit too much to try to make Calais in one stint from where I was, but I found what sounded like an interesting stop over for the night in Thieu, Belgium. It would be a long old day driving through France, Luxembourg and Belgium, but it would leave a short, easy trip to get back to Calais afterwards.
Even though I opted to go for the quickest route (that included motorways), it was indeed a long old day on the road! Glad I had plenty of last nights dinner left over for when I finally arrived 🙂 I was just finishing off my food when a cool looking, dove blue, VW split screen panel van pulled up nearby. It was the first splitty I had seen on the road since my time in Wolfsburg, Germany. I went over to chat to the two guys driving it. They were doing a night-time photo shoot by the canal, and very kindly offered to include my bus whilst I was there 🙂
Nothing like a surprise photo shoot with the super talented Kris B – love the end result of his work, a very cool pic, cheers dude! 🙂
Have to say it was a great little spot to stop over right by the canal, very peaceful. In the morning it was nice to have a chat with an older Dutch guy who was parked up nearby in his motor home. Turned out his working life had been spent on the commercial canal boats and had passed through this area many times over the years, but normally on the water.
He also was telling me about the historic boat lift number 4 of Strepy Thieu which lifts/lowers boats up and out of the differing levels of the canal waters. There are four historic lifts, but these have been superseded by a newer, massive modern replacement of the Strépy-Thieu boat lift. The canal has a height difference of 73.15 metres (240.0 ft) between the upstream and downstream reaches, and the new boat lift can lift vessels of up to 300 tonnes!
The older historic lifts became bypassed by the new Canal du Centre, and are now on the UNESCO World Heritage List, because of their architectural and historical value.
Really impressive structures, and when you climb the steps to the top, you get to see the scale and height of the lift they facilitate for the boats. It is now dwarfed by the new replacement in terms of size and capability, but still a pretty impressive structure to see!
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about this trip has been the unexpected people I’ve met, and the previously unknown places I’ve been too.