Whilst we knew about the role of Bergues in the film ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis‘ we had not known about its history as a fortified town, until that is we got off the train. the picture on the left shows one of the gates to the town and behind it the former barracks for those defending the town. The extent of the remaining fortifications can be seen on the map of the town:
I had known about the engineer Vauban (wiki) from his work on the defences of Strasbourg after it became part of France in 1681. Something I have become more interested in during the time I have been here, although I did have a concern about regressing to a childhood love of castles and forts until JTO said it was something she found not disinteresting and, for me, is a part of finding out about the history of central Europe that I previously had not known about. For example one of the places in Alsace I am keen to visit is Neuf-Brisach (wiki) built by Vauban after France lost its fortified town of Breisach on the East-bank of the Rhine and a prime example of a Vauban fortified town built from scratch.
So, as well as spending time walking about finding out about the film related connection with the village I spent time walking about findng out about the fortified towns of Northern France and found that there is an association of fortified towns in Northern France and that there is also a ‘route of fortified towns’ pretty much as there is in Alsace a ‘wine route’, a route from the North to the South of the wineries in Alsace. The association features many places in Flanders. There is also an association of fortified towns in Alsace and an association for the many sites in France associated with Vauban. Like the memory of walking into Bergues across a drawbridge there is plenty to keep me busy through the Winter.