MAN Truck & Bus

DAY 7: SHIP AHOY –

UP THERE!

Everything is different today! For the first time, we are travelling beneath cloudy skies, and we need to cover not 200, not 300, but 400 kilometres and – this sounds almost alien – there’s a river that flows above the road. Don’t you believe us? Here are the highlights! 

Concentrated Photographer Lara Freiburger and videographer Sascha Kaliga examine new material for the Roadtrip website.

Waterway The Canal du Centre in Belgium is 20.9 kilometres long. At one point, the ships cross the road.

07:15

Let’s get going!

On this, our 7th stage, we have one main goal: to cover the kilometres. This is the longest stage of our road trip. For the first time since we started in Munich, we’re heading southwards again. From the Belgian capital, Brussels, to Rouen in France. You’ve probably heard of the picturesque little town in Normandy because of brave Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake here 591 years ago because she wanted to free France, her homeland, from the English. The closer we get to Rouen, the more we are looking forward to seeing the sea. We can almost smell it. On y va – let’s go!

10:15

Have I gone mad, or have I died and gone to heaven?

What’s going on here? Suddenly, there is a river flowing not beneath, but above our bus! And we’re not in a tunnel. It doesn’t sound real, but it is. That’s the Pont-Canal du Sart aqueduct. We didn’t warn our bus driver, Heinrich, of this curious highlight beforehand. Suddenly, as he drives the bus under a bridge on a roundabout and sees a ship up there, the usually down-to-earth Bavarian cried out in surprise, “Have I gone mad, or have I died and gone to heaven?“ 

This concrete girder aqueduct runs over the top of a roundabout and was built between 1998 and 2002. It is 498 metres long and can carry 80,000 tonnes of water. Its construction cost some 248 million euros. We asked Heinrich to drive around the roundabout 22 times, so that we could get the perfect photo and video shot. After all, this road trip isn’t supposed to be a jolly! We’re pretty sure you won’t find a carousel ride like that in heaven either. 

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Stage 7 Off to Normandy. Memories of Joan of Arc await you there.

14:45

Pure Normandy

If you ever want to visit an idyllic Norman village, you absolutely have to go to Neufchatel-en-Bray. This lovely town dates from the 11th century and fulfils almost all of those French stereotypes. The old folk of the village play boules in the park, a young lad with an accordion stands at the corner of the street giving a selection of French chansons his best shot, there’s a little bistro on every corner that offers delicious cheeses and very drinkable wines. Life is lived here! If only we could stay for a while... But we’re still 45 minutes away from Rouen so we need to press on! 

Historical monument The church of Notre-Dame in Neufchâtel-en-Bray dates from the 12th century. The stained glass windows are particularly interesting here.

Contrast Amidst the old houses, the modern design of the Lion's City E comes into its own.

Open-air museum A walk through Neufchâtel-en-Bray is like a journey into the past.

16:45

Beautiful France, beautiful lion

Our MAN Lion’s City E is at least as beautiful as the region we are now in. All the experts we have spoken to are full of praise. The epithets we hear range from “sporty” to “graceful” and “sexy”. On every street corner, passers-by turn their heads to watch the bus go past, giving us a thumbs-up. 

MAN chief designer Stephan Schönherr is the man responsible for making this bus look so good. His primary aim was for everyone who sees the MAN Lion’s City E on the road to know it is an electric bus. It was to have a clear, futuristic look. So the bus was designed to look sporty and dynamic. Because electric vehicles are the future, the bus also needed to look futuristic, says Schönherr. The interior also follows a clear approach, offering plenty of space with four extra seats at the back and feeling spacious and bright. Integral ambient lighting gives the interior a pleasant atmosphere too. We definitely feel great in our editorial office on wheels. 

Panorama Rouen is located in northern France on the lower reaches of the Seine. The city has around 112,000 inhabitants. 

Timekeeper The “Gros-Horloge” in Rouen has a diameter of 2.50 metres and a clock face decorated with 24 golden sunbeams.

Remembrance In 1431, the 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen. This church bears her name.

18:30

In the footsteps of Saint Joan of Arc

A word about light: The sun comes out again just as we drive into Rouen. Lovely! However, the town has seen its fair share of tragedy too. This is where the 19-year-old Joan of Arc was dragged away and burned at the stake by an English executioner in front of a gawking crowd on 30th May 1431. Her ashes were then thrown into the Seine. Every year, Rouen holds ceremonies to commemorate the young freedom fighter and national heroine, also known as the Maid of Orléans. Her aim was to free France from the English. She was canonised by the Catholic church in 1920.  

The site of this gruesome event, the Place du Vieux-Marché, is naturally worth a visit, as are the town’s other sights and many pretty churches. Then, like every evening, we head to the depot as the bus is thirsty for electricity. We’d prefer a nice glass of French red wine. And then quickly back to our hotel, our heads touch our pillows, and we count battery packs rather than sheep. One, two, three, four... 

Text   Boris Pieritz
Photos   Lara Freiburger

#Day 7#ElectrifyingEuropeTour#Electromobility#Bus#LionsCityE
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