(I apologize if I have forgotten names or gotten them incorrect -- go ahead and send me corrections by email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The reason was an invitation-only workshop on ``Cluster and Computational Grids for Scientific Computing,'' held at Le Chateau de Faverges de la Tour, (web site) a beautiful little chateau about 35 miles east of Lyon.
I was sitting next to Henri Casanova, who was doing the translation, and even he was impressed with ``quintessential'' juice, which would be as representative of juice as juice can be. It was good juice.
Dinner was over at 10:30 and I was exhausted, so straight to bed.
The wine caused a bit of a stir later in the dinner. I believe we were all expecting a shift to red wine at the main course, but no, we received this rather bland blush wine the entire time. Jean-Yves and Yves expressed their disgust to the Maitre D (``I don't acknowledge pink as a color for wine'' was the quote), who informed us that it was a local vintage and very expensive. No one believed him....
Anyway, this is the route up at Sassenade, a few miles out of Grenoble. At one time, I believe this may have been the only route from this side of the Alps.
A dispatch was sent to Britain and a militia of roughly 400 was built in various camps. The dispatch was lost, however. Moreover, the Germans thought that the territory was too much of a bother to mess with, so the residents garnered hope that the restoration of France lay with them. (This is my paraphrasing, by the way. I could be wrong).
When the British discovered their oversight (July, 1944), they gave an approval of the idea, but my impression is that the French were a bit overzealous in their acceptance. Over 4000 troops assembled there, and it was declared part of the ``Republique'' again. American planes with rations and munitions parachuted them in Vassieux en Vercours, and the Germans saw it. Bad idea. (Actually, I'm not sure that the parachutes were really the cause -- I imagine German intelligence had something to do with it -- nothing said this, of course, but it's more believable to me -- how did they know there was an airfield there?)
So now the Germans were pissed, and I'm guessing they were more than a bit concerned with the goings on in Vercors, so they flew in something like 15,000 troops, using an airfield in Vassieux that the French had constructed. Everyone was killed. Men, women, children. No building was left standing. Not a soul in Vassieux (population of 100 or so) survived. The Germans also sent troops over the mountains to reclaim the area. Let's just say you didn't want to be French and living in this relatively desolate part of the country. You were to be tortured and killed.
Anyway, the memorial museum is up on that mountain to the left -- you can see the road going up to the pass. After testing out the town (it looked like all the other little towns in Vercors), I went up the pass to the museum.
Before we leave this spot, I was impressed that while the horrors of the occupation and massacre were made crystal clear, the exhibits humanized the German soldiers, and did not treat them like ogres. I am guessing that the French believe, rightly I think, that once their civilians tried to assemble an underground army, the Germans were only doing what they would have done -- squashing all potential retaliation. Very similar to our soldiers in Viet Nam and Korea. Once civilians stop being civilians, all bets on safety are off. Sad, but true.
This picture is of some bad planning and bad allocation of resources. I had a 40 minute layover in Frankfurt, and had to get through passport control during that time. We packed into an elevator, and here was the view as the doors opened. No room even to get out of the elevator. It took about a half hour of pushing and wedging to get to that door you see under the green sign.