Markets, History and Pub Quiz’s at La Croix de Vieux Pont - Al Fresco Holidays

Caroline, the Al Fresco rep from La Croix de Vieux Pont, shares her hints and tips on things to see and do in the Berny Rivière.


One thing France is renowned for is the quality of its local markets. Here at La Croix du Vieux Pont we are surrounded by many French market towns. The closest market to us is at Vic-sur-Aisne; only a 10 minute walk away from the campsite. Here, every Wednesday, local farmers gather to sell their fresh produce, spit roast chicken and roast potatoes and a selection of clothes. But make sure you get there early!

Bigger markets can be found 15 minutes away at Soissons and 40 minutes away at Compiegne. The variety on offer at Soissons market makes it well worth a visit.  From the live poultry and rabbits through to the jewellery and the Chinese, North African and Indian foods and spices; there is plenty of things to see and purchase.

Every French town and village puts on a brocante sale once a year; their version of a car boot sale (where you would hope to find bargain hunt). These can sell anything from microwaves and plumbing parts through to baby clothes, food, DVDs and the produce households have grown on their own allotments; all sold cheaply.

Timed properly a visit to a market can perfect a day with a trip to the market in the morning followed by lunch, with either the exploration of a town in the afternoon or a visit to a nearby attraction.

A visit to Pierrefonds market, on a friday morning, followed by a visit to the chateau in the afternoon or to Soissons market, on a Saturday morning, with the cathedral in the afternoon can make for a great day out.

The best bit of advice that can be given to anyone tempted to visit a market is to arrive early! Most French markets will be closing down by lunchtime and also keep valuables on you at all times.

World War One

Here, at La Croix du Vieux Pont, we are not far from the battlefields of the First World War. There are a number of sights to be seen. The armistice that ended the First World War was signed in the Forest of Compiegne; a 35 minute drive away from our site. To commemorate there is a replica of the train carriage the agreement was signed in. The original train carriage having been destroyed by the Nazis, embarrassed by what it signified. Today the replica stands within remembrance gardens.

Our local tourist information office, in Vic-sur-Aisne, sells guided tours in English of local quarries used by soldiers during the First World War. During their stay the soldiers decorated the caves even going to the extent of building their own chapels inside them. These tours take place on Fridays from the 4th of May to the 28th of September.

There are a number of war cemeteries in the area.  The closest are all French but the nearest British war cemetery is about an hour away at Vendresse-Beaulne. Not far from there is the “Chemin des Dames”. Originally this was just an old road but it became a highly contested area during the Great War. Today this is has become an organised grouping of up to 16 monuments and museums commemorating the First World War. This is a visit which can be done either in whole or in part.

The biggest of these is the “Caverne du Dragon” or Dragon’s Cave, originally a quarry, which became the local centre of operations for both sides as the frontlines moved back and forth and has since been turned into a museum; there are English language guided tours of that also.

The Al Fresco Pub Quiz

Every friday night at 8 o’clock the Al fresco team put on their glad rags on and host the quiz. Its held in the summer bar and depending on how many show up is either down stairs or up stairs. There are 50 questions and some good prizes to be won they usually involve wine and sweets. So if you know about geography and are a dab hand at general knowledge then come and join us. Its fun for all ages, especially the kids with the disney rounds. See you there!

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