I say 30 minutes because that’s how long it would take you to thoroughly explore Ruyaulcourt.
With a sprained ankle.
Ruyaulcourt is a town in the north of France, not far from Belgium, and is where we’re living for the moment. At last count (2006), the town had a population of 273, a number that has been in pretty steady decline since at least the 60’s.
Per the Wikipedia blurb about Ruyaulcourt, it’s 2.5 square kilometers. That must be counting some of the fields. In the map up there that I made for you guys, the area highlighted in green is the part that’s mostly buildings. The rest is fields, more or less.
If the scale of the map isn’t immediately clear, consider that Rue d’Enfer, between Rue de l’Eglise and Rue d’Hermies, is about a city-block long.
1. The Church
I believe that every little town out here in the countryside, no matter how small, has a church. As you’re driving through the fields, you can find any towns within miles by scanning the horizon and counting church steeples.
I’ve not been inside, but from the outside it’s a pretty standard church, as far as churches go. There’s a tower, with a steeple and a clock… you know – it’s a church.
2. The World War Memorial
As I’ve previously mentioned, each town here in France, without exception, has some sort of memorial to those lost in the World Wars, usually right next to the church.
The dates at the top of this monument are those of WWI, but there are three WWII casualties also listed on the left side.
The text reads “The commune of Ruyaulcourt TO their glorious children”. (See note about this translation here)
This imposing looking building is (in my opinion) worth mentioning. In fact, this building used to be the ‘Young Boy’s School’ (the girl’s school being just down the street, next to the church), and as the Mayor’s office, it is open 2 hours a week.
The reason I’m a fan of the Mayor’s office here is simply because of what it is: it’s the Mayor’s office of a town that has been here for some time. Inside there are the town records – births, deaths and events of at least the last hundred years. Historical jackpot.
I got to sneak a peek at one of the old logs. This was back when folks took care with their penmanship, and the resulting documents are a pleasure to look at. Also, there was an extra column in the antique birth register that I couldn’t make sense of. It was helpfully explained that this column was for recording whether the child was ‘normal’ or illegitimate. Interestingly, about half the births seemed to be marked ‘ ill. ‘ .
4. The Bakery
The bakery is interesting because it is absolutely the only business I’ve seen operating in Ruyaulcourt. Like the Mayor’s office, the hours are rather limited, and I’ve yet to actually see it open, though I have had bread from here.
5. Fakir Jean-Pierre ‘JP’ Francky
When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of magicians. And I used to read lots of books about the old, old magicians. And they always had learned some trick or another from an ancient Indian fakir. I always thought it would be cool to see a fakir in action.
A fakir is most commonly defined as a Muslim or Hindu wise-man, who sometimes performs ‘feats of magic’ to demonstrate their abilities gained with their higher level of spirituality, or perhaps their level of discipline.
Taking the title of fakir, Jean-Pierre Francky has decided apparently to jettison the mysticism and go heavy on the freaky magic – then again, I think if you go to his show based on this poster, you’re probably not looking for spiritual guidance.
Check out his website, or Google him to find more pictures and some videos.
Seriously, check that out. Is that not a whole hell of a lot of beets?
The dog, who loves to snack on potatoes and grabs one out of the field whenever we pass a potato field, mistook these for a delicious mountain of potatoey goodness.
He was going out of his mind with excitement – until, that is, he bit into one. Then he lost interest.
So there you go folks. There’s the unabridged tourist’s guide to Ruyaulcourt.
Thanks for the feedback and suggestions, Suzy.
Hope you all enjoyed the town.
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