2022: OSCAR in Val Joly in the Ardennes
In Sémur-en-Auxois in Burgundy hosted the last big OSCAR in 2019. We parted to meet again in Wrocław/Poland in 2020. But then OSCAR 2020 had to be cancelled. Now it's 2022 and things are finally starting to come back to normal.
This year's OSCAR was organized by the French section of Lille by Sylvie Henry and her team. It took place at the Madame Vacances resort at the ValJoly reservoir near Eppe-Sauvage in the Ardennes, 2 km distant from the Belgian border. Monday 27th June 2022: 85 participants arrived during the afternoon: 48 from France, 33 from Germany, 2 from Great Britain and 2 from Switzerland.The first jumeleurs arrived in heavy rain, but fortunately the weather improved.
We were accommodated in wooden cottages with a maximum of 4 persons. The cottages had 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a separate toilet, a living room with kitchenette and a terrace. Some of the houses were on the slope towards the reservoir near the restaurant where we had breakfast and dinner, some were further away in the heights without a view of the lake. So some of us had to walk 1 km to the restaurant for meals; but after all, we had come here to be active. During the aperitif and dinner It was very nice to once again meet friends again whom we had not seen for 3 years.
As always at OSCAR, there was walking or cycling on 2 days. There were 2 walking groups and 2 cycling groups. Some jumeleurs did not take part in either cycling or walking and made their own arrangements. On the day in between all participants went on an excursion. Tuesday 28th June 2022: The 2 cycling groups and the 2 walking groups met, equipped with packed lunch, to set off on their walking and cycling tours. The weather was ideal: sun and blue sky.
I (Alfred) was in cycling group 2 with 14 participants, on a tour of 60 km, for cycling group 1 it was more arduous with a tour of 100 km. At 9:30 am the cyclists of both groups and 4 professional guides dressed in the blue company dress met at the reception of Madame Vacances. While the 8 participants of group 1 as well as the young leaders of both groups relied on their own muscle power, this was the case for only 3 people in group 2.The others were equipped with e-bikes. Right at the beginning there were 2 hills to master, where the participants with e-bikes effortlessly passed the 3 motorless ones who were struggling and panting as they tried to keep up with the group. After that, however, the terrain became flatter and the 3 of us without a motor were able to keep up more easily. The tour led mainly along departmental roads that were rarely used. There were several breaks, one in Trélon where we met the mayor and visited a small side street full of funny scarecrows. At lunch break near Liessies we met group 1, who were also having their picnic. Harald realized that he had foolishly also packed his wife's picnic, who had originally wanted to take part in the tour before an unfortunate fall prevented her from doing so right at the beginning. Not wanting to let her starve and with the reservoir not far away, he used the time allotted for the lunch break to take Sylvia her picnic, intending to return to the group afterwards. Unfortunately we didn't see him again on this tour! Christian, who is rumoured to have a sixth sense for beer pubs, had already discovered the nearby restaurant with its beer garden, where he lured almost all the participants of group 2.
The tour after lunch break did not differ in scenery from the tour before lunch break until we came to a former railway line at Lev Fontaine; this had been converted into an asphalt cycle path with a small incline. This path led us back to the lake in a straight line. It was noted that this path is part of the European long-distance cycle route EuroVelo 3. Passing the dam wall and a final climb, we reached the starting point in front of the reception of Madame Vacances.
For the smaller walking group 1, the programme on this day was to walk around the reservoir with a total distance of 20 km. Rudi Schug was with this walking group and reports as follows: Enjoying the most beautiful summer weather, 18 participants of group 1 started in the morning from the centre, departing from near the swimming pool and walking in a wide loop around the Lac du Val Joly reservoir. The path first followed the lakeshore, then climbed up to the village of Eppe-Sauvage and then veered to the south side of the lake. Here the group followed a walking path with a variety of ascents and descents through the forest of the Liessies Abbey domain with an arboretum in which diverse tree species are planted. Lunch was had at a landing stage by the lake and then, with renewed energy, we continued to the village of Willies behind the dam and then followed the north shore of the lake to the holiday resort.
I (Irmi) was on the way with the larger walking group 2 consisting of 35 participants. According to the programme, the route was 6 km long. Right at the beginning, our walking guide drew our attention to the many swallows and storks in this area. Later, on our way east along the reservoir, he often stopped to point out botanical specimen. Walking past croaking frogs in the water and small toads along the way, we continued to the village of Eppe-Sauvage. To get there we had to leave the path by the reservoir and walk uphill. Through hedgerow country we passed pastures where cows and sheep were grazing. As it had rained the day before, some narrow paths were muddy. At lunchtime we arrived in the centre of Eppe-Sauvage at the town hall, the school and the church. There we took a lunch break on a long wall and ate our picnic. For some it was too hot in the sun and they fled to the shade. Some filled up their bottles with water at the nearby cemetery. Up to now we had already walked 7 km and that meant another 7 km walk back. Before we left Eppe-Sauvage, some of us visited the church. On the way back we were glad to be able to walk partly in the shade. A chat, sometimes in German, sometimes in French, made the way home appear to be shorter than it actually was.
Wednesday29th June 2022 was our cultural day. We went to Trélon in 2 buses. Bus group 2 first went to the two-storey brick castle there, also called Merode Castle. Before we were led to the interiors, we took group photos on the grand staircase and our guide provided us with pleliminary information about the castle. Originally it was only 8 m wide. Later it was doubled to 16 m and provided with a round tower. It has been the private property of the Merode family for over 450 years. The castle passed into possession of the family through marriage in the 16th century. It was badly damaged in the Second World War, but was extensively restored afterwards. The Louis XIII style castle has been a listed building since 1986.
During our guided tour, we walked through numerous castle rooms: the castle chapel, the large and small saloon, several bedrooms, the library, the vestibule and the large and small dining room. Worth mentioning are tapestries with zodiac signs and astrological motifs as well as seating furniture in the large saloon whose backrests show embroideries with initials of noble-women who were imprisoned in the castle during the Reign of Terror. During the tour, Eleonore from the Bonn association, who also leads tours in foreign languages, expertly translated everything from French into German.
After the castle tour, bus group 2 went to the AMV - Atelier-Musee du Verre in Trélon. This atelier museum is a former glassworks from 1823 and displays a collection of machines, tools and glass productions. In two hot glass furnaces that heated up the room, the molten glass glowed bright red. A glassblower demonstrated how to use a blowpipe, tongs and other tools to form not only bottles but also baubles, vases and snails from a lump of molten glass. We learned how glass is made from sand and potash and which salts are responsible for the colours in the glass. Blowing the bottles of wine, champagne and later perfume was a tough job for the men who worked with their blowpipes directly in the heat of the large glass furnace. The children had to take the cooled bottles out of the mold whilst the women were responsible for quality control.
After a delicious lunch, we left for the MTVS - Musee du Textile et de la Vie Sociale in Fourmies.
This museum of textiles and social life is housed in a worsted spinning mill dating from 1863. A steam engine powered numerous machines via belts and wheels that drove the many textile processes from cleaning the cotton to spinning the threads into the finished woven fabric. At that time there were no safety precautions. You could quickly lose a finger, which led to the loss of your job.
A museum tour takes the visitor into the everyday life of the working class at the end of the 19th century. The reconstruction of a pub, a worker's flat, a classroom and a street with shops shows the daily life of these men, women and children. Some participants were so exhausted from visiting the museum that they took a nap in the entrance hall.
Back in ValJoly, in the evening we were pleased to welcome Peter Backes, President of Eurojumelages. Afterwards we lined up in the shape of a star for a photo, wearing our green T-shirts. The participants with blue, yellow, green and red caps each formed a ray of the star.
Thursday 30th June 2022: Rain was predicted. I (Alfred) was again on the road with bike group 2. Despite the cool temperatures and grey skies from which the first drops were already falling, we rode off. We had our rain jackets with us.
This time, of the 10 remaining participants in group 2, I was the only one without an e-bike, since Herbert and Harald preferred to continue exploring the railway line, which had been converted into a cycle path. I had the feeling that this tour was more strenuous than Tuesday’s tour, probably because there were fewer and shorter breaks. We only stayed longer in Solre-le-Château with its impressive church tower. Although it didn't rain much - I only really got wet when a waitress tipped half her tray of kir over me at dinner - the mood was such that we decided to skip the afternoon tour. This turned out to be a good idea, because the sky really opened its floodgates in the afternoon.
Due to the weather forecast, on Thursday both walking groups were smaller than on Tuesday. 16 km were planned for walking group 1 on this day. Rudi Schug was with this walking group and reports as follows:
Despite the weather forecast with continuous rain from late morning, 13 brave walkers equipped with rain protection started from the centre at the swimming pool along the lake to Willies, then plunged into the extensive abbey forest and reached the chapel of St. Hiltrude, hidden deep in the forest. A short rest was taken there. The route continued along varied paths to the village of Liessies with the former abbey in the centre of the village. When visiting the venerable abbey church, the gold shrine with the bones of Saint Hiltrude in the aisle catches the eye. Afterwards we picnicked in the beautiful abbey park. The route continued over the hills with fields and farms until the group reached the lake again near the holiday resort. Shortly before reaching our destination we were caught in a heavy rainfall.
6 km were indicated for walking group 2, which, based on Tuesday's experience, would mean twice as much. The walking group consisted of only 17 participants, including Peter Backes. The rest preferred to walk with like-minded people near our accommodation to return quickly when the rain would set in. I (Irmi) was one of them and went on a short walk with Michaela along the reservoir towards the west. We repeatedly met other jumeleurs walking individually. The continuous rain actually came during the day, lightly at first, but then more heavily. For the final evening we had to use umbrellas.
After a speech by Peter Backes, Sylvie announced the results on the kilometres covered: total: France 1950 km, Germany 1910 km, Great Britain 400 km, Switzerland 220 km cycling: 1. Dijon 620 km, 2. Konstanz: 610 km, 3. York: 400 km walking: St. Quentin 390 km Thus the OSCAR trophy goes to the association of Dijon, the walking trophy to the association of St. Quentin. The handlebar was awarded to Harry Manicor as the youngest cyclist.
André Rousselot from Dijon, the father of OSCAR, was also honoured. He celebrated his 90th birthday in May. Michaela Alber, the new chairwoman of Eurojumelages Germany, then used PowerPoint to present OSCAR 2023 in Germany: 11th to 15th September on Sonnenmatte in the Swabian Alb.
Friday 1st July 2022: After breakfast our ways parted again. Goodbye until next year at OSCAR in Germany.
Irmi & Alfred Corbet
association of Darmstadt