Wandering – Monday 5/14/2007

Pears on the communal breakfast table at the B&B. Our last morning there. Sigh. There was also yummy yogurt, bread, butter, jam, and orange juice on a big lazy Susan in the middle, along with coffee and tea.

We’d sat with Meredith and a young couple with a child on Sunday morning, listening to her tell tales of the B&B trade. The couple had just bought a place and were going to turn it into a B&B. It was interesting because although Meredith paused to summarize for us in English, I found I could understand enough of her French to have an idea of what she was talking about. Cool!

This morning, we had Meredith and Bill to ourselves for a while. Bill and I talked about photography…basically I picked his brain after looking through portofolios on the coffee table in the other room. Most of our travels over the past couple of days were on Meredith’s recommendation and we were so glad. She said enough to pique our interest without telling us too much about what to expect, so we felt that rush of discovery.

We took off intending to stay somewhere between Nancy and Strassbourg.

Needed a shot of this window cleaning station at a French fuel station. Aw! They even give you little disposable plastic gloves to wear! A little disconcerting to see the word “raclette,” here describing what we’d call a squeegee. Remember that yummy raclette dinner the first night? 😉

Each and every time we fueled up it was difficult. The first time, we had to figure out what kind of fuel to put in it… Okay, diesel, but which one? Oh. It was written on the inside of the gas cap. Clever rental company! Then figuring out where to pay. Huh! Seemed a little different each time.
Inside the station. They have some really different expectations of their potato chips over here!

We followed a sign that said “Fraises – 800m” off the two-lane highway and bought a kilo of fresh strawberries from a lady in a little caravan by the road. Fabulous: large and sweet.

Went to Domremy, the birthplace of Joan d’Arc. They weren’t too nice to her when she was alive, but they are sure proud of her now. You see “Joan was here” all over the place! This is the door into the house where she was born round about 1412. Explored the house and the chapel right next door.

We thought we’d stay there in a place mom and my niece stayed ten years ago, but oddly, all the hotels were closed! Huh!

An example from a small town along the way (St. Dizier?) of how much room you have to walk in along some roads. These villages weren’t built for two way auto traffic!

Stayed in the dodgiest hotel of the trip this night, in Neufchateau. Just didn’t have the energy to keep looking after a cold and windy day. Bought a bottle of Gewurtztraminer and some cookies at a discount market and ate those with the strawberries from St. Dizier and the last of the cheese from the street market in Dormans.


Reims & the Champagne Route – Sunday, 5/13/2007

It took us a little while to figure it out, but indeed the Champagne Route is not just one road. It’s a whole area. You think… Ah, we’re on the Champagne Route heading generally south, so we’re okay. Not so. But it’s a great area to get turned around in. We really loved being in the vineyards and seeing the towns dotting the green.

They’re cleaning up Notre Dame de Reims (pronounced Rrrrahs, yikes!). At first I wasn’t sure about the removal of the patina, but you really can see a lot more detail in the cleaned up section.

What a task! See the cleaned area in the lower right corner!?

Mom and I both found this more impressive than Notre Dame de Paris (the one you think of when you think of Notre Dame…unless of course you think of the Fighting Irish.) It’s also nice inthat there are informational signs inside that tell you about the building and history of the cathedral in French, English and German.

Sadly, some of the statuary on the left side (as you face it) were damaged by a bomb during World War I. That must have been heartbreaking. I read that this church was built by volunteers over the course of 200 years. Even though that was centuries ago, I imagine that a lot of pride and a sense of belonging come from having a place like this in your midst. These images must have been someone’s favorites.

Just a mossy rooftop in a little village on the Marne river on our way back from Reims. Blue sky. We haven’t had a lot of that on this trip.

We’d had a good lunch, so we finished up the second of the three cheeses with bread in our room. I climbed up the hillside behind the B&B (that’s it in the foreground) to write and watch the clouds roll by.

The Marne Valley must have operated on birdsong before the days of automobiles and trains. It seemed like everywhere we got out of the car in the countryside, we’d hear layers and layers of song bird voices. I sat here and listened to short calls, long calls, the cooing of doves. Behind me was a woods that Meredith told us used to be part of the original chateau grounds.