Day 26 – what a difference a day makes

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

6 comments on “Day 26 – what a difference a day makes

  1. But did you get a glass of champagne at the vineyard? Mac pleased to see evidence of cats! 🐱

    • Perhaps we’ll do a proper visit today to a vineyard. It would be interesting to see the harvest. Glad Mac liked the cat photos.

  2. Huguette

    Great you took a photo of cats. Mandy ‘ll be happy and Mac too.
    You are in the famous and rich country Tim. So I hope the hotel and breakfast are the best.
    Before you discovered the desersification in France, it’s terrible and sad for our land.
    Now at Reims stop the beer and drink Champagne.
    Congrats to you and Paul

    • Hi Huguette I will do my best to photograph cats for you and Mandy but they are shy and run off so quickly. It is terrible to see so many villages in the north without a shop or bar and it makes walking difficult. We have a long way to go.

  3. I have mixed memories/feelings about Reims. I was there in 1999 for the total eclipse. I don’t know how many people descended on that tiny village (hundreds of thousands) and they weren’t prepared for the influx. No place to eat, nothing to drink, no place to go to the bathroom, an unmoving ocean of people. So, as soon as the eclipse passed its zenith, I got on the next train back to Paris. Was disappointed that I didn’t get to experience any part of what appears to be a beautiful village. Looks like you’ll be having a much superior experience!

    • Hi DJ that’s all I need, a total eclipse to wipe out hotels etc. Sounds dreadful. Shame you didn’t find one of the wheat fields we walked past. The Cathedral is the big attraction in Reims and I’m looking forward to visiting it today.

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