July 4, 2008 Bourges, France
I had always wanted to visit Bourges, a city I had passed many times during previous journeys, and now the chance came. Bourges is one of France's oldest cities, the capital of Vercingetorix, when he led the Gauls. Julius Caesar kindly
arranged for the massacre of 40,000 of his people in 57BC, whilst on his way to (or maybe from) our own fair land. The cathedral is another UNESCO world heritage site, and the city rates a 14 page entry in the Michelin green guide.
We picked a campsite called Camping Intercommunal de Lunery, in a small village on the banks of the Cher, a short drive from Bourges. We arrived in the early afternoon to find a nicely laid out site, a smart new toilet and shower block and a friendly helpful warden. However as the afternoon wore on the weather just got hotter and hotter, peaking at 33 at 7pm. It was too hot to do anything but sit with a bottle or two of 1664. As we sat there we realised the downside of a site close to a river. Mosquitoes, not just in small flights but in whole armies, probably the re-incarnation of Vercingetorix and his 40,000. At one point I counted eight of the b******s on just one of my legs, supping on my high alcohol content blood. A sudden thunderstorm cleared the air of heat, but the entire mosquito population of the village then took shelter under our awning. Then as night fell 40,000 rooks returned from their day's scavenging to roost in the trees above us and tell each other tales of their day's exploits. No sooner had they settled down for the night when 40,000 frogs started up their nightlong chorus from the lagoon by the river.
Next morning, we were woken (if that is the right term for the end of a sleepless night) by the sound of the village scrap metal merchant lifting his scrap metal to a great height and dropping it. With our ears ringing from this and the noise of the frogs, then the dawn chorus, our fingers sore from the scratching and our lungs permanently damaged by fly spray and citronella candles, we decided to leave Bourges to Vercingetorix and his army and beat a hasty retreat northwards. On our way north we passed a small hill called Chaussee de Cesar, where Caesar allegedly left a footprint whilst watching the battle with Vercingetorix. That was why he was such a great general. He had the sense to stay well clear and let his legionaries be bitten to death!