Six thousand people attended the service at Villiers-Bretonneux, the site of one of the key battles on the Western Front. The battle saved the town and changed the course of the war.
Pascale Boistard, France’s secretary of state for women’s rights, paid tribute to the contribution of Anzac soldiers. “When the French think about the Anzacs, they think of their courage, and they are eternally grateful,” she said. At Villers-Bretonneux, the Anzacs halted the enemy advance.

As we begin our walk on a grey day, I spend some time thinking about the close relationship France has with Australia through the experience of fighting. It is a day to reflect on the ones that died and those still living with the memories of death, as well as the good that can sometimes come from war.

We head out into the breezy hillsides later than usual because it is a short walk of 17kms, and realise there are other people also walking – some with rain gear on just in case – others with rain pants in their pack – and a few that don’t believe the forecasts anymore. Like a massive carpet, the grassy hillsides provide a wonderful cushion for walking and keeps us away from the deep ruts that have been forged by millions of boots and shoes from decades past. With a smattering of old Birch trees clinging to the hillside just above the valley below, fields of daffodils all around, buttercups adding yet a third yellow flower, and high thinly grassed hills in the background, we find ourselves alone in our thoughts and space.

Soon we are into volcanic rock country again, our grassy way becoming like a dry rocky creek bed as we now much more carefully tread our way up and down challenging pathways. Giant volcanic rocks appear like types of memorials for the death of past landforms as the loose rocky path reaches a creek that it follows down into the valley below. We have been travelling at about 1000 metres for some days but it appears we have today, gone well below that mark. We walk alongside the river La Boralde that leads us to the front door of our delightful Gite for tonight. A Belgian couple who own our lodgings welcomed us, reminded us that shoes must be taken off before entering while madame easily carried my heavy case to our room upstairs.
La Boralde meanwhile rushes past noisily maybe hoping it will never have to wash away the blood of war – lest we forget.