A pleasant surprise this morning. The path rounded a corner and we saw our first vineyard since Day 2 on the North Downs Way. There they were, hectares of young vines soaking up the sun, proudly holding their bunches of little grapes for inspection. Suddenly everything had changed. The landscape was hilly, the villages boasted bakeries, restaurants and attractive village squares. And little tourist signs competed with the Via Francigena signs; we have arrived in the Champagne region.
We are now in the real France of movies and travel documentaries. Almost immediately we saw a little group of people tending to the vines. I offered greetings and enquired about a glass. They laughed and pointed to “the Boss” who introduced himself as none other than Jean-Marie Goulard, owner of the Goulard Champagne House. He was just as keen to hear about our walk to Rome as we were to learn about life as a Godfather of Champagne.
We are now in an elegant neo Turkish 2 star hotel close to Reims (not pronounced Reems) Cathedral. We walked so far today to reach the city that we lost track of the distance. Paul is convinced it was 42km but my instinct is 35km. We finished our walk at the Cathedral, drank a beer then went to the nearest hotel. It is a great location but you hope tonight is not the night it burns down. 65 euros per night for the room and we’re here 2 nights.
This evening we dined nearby. A classic French burger and chips washed down with a glass of the local fizz and a blonde beer brewed on site. It reminded me of last year’s great Aubrac blonde. All very tasty.
Hello to Beat & Eveline from the North Downs Way who are deep in the Low Countries. No fellow walkers anywhere. Maybe it’s World Cup syndrome?
Lastly, for the cat loving followers, I saw a cat today…
We arrived at Reims Cathedral, one of the greats.
Paul took a quick sip while I was focussing