Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Day three La-Ferte-sous-Jouarre to Chateau Thierry

Day three La-Ferte-sous-Jouarre to Chateau Thierry 30km 2.5 hours

Cakes: 1 croissant each; 0.5 pain au chocolat; Coffee 2 x each

Another short day. The places to stay seem to be a little thin on the ground, and we appear to have arrived before the high season has really kicked in. So we have to work around towns where there are places to stay. This is good in that there are way fewer people around and not so good in that many of the potential places to stay are still closed. Having said that we are satying in a 16th century Chambres d'hotes tonight. It's amazing. You walk up a lot of steps going ever upward in a spiral, and arrive in a room that is done out in a mix of Arabian Nights meets Chateau Thierry 'making the most of a under the beams loft space'. We love it!!

We woke up to fog this morning (at last a chance to say au fait du brouillard - and I could be way off on the spelling there - something I learned at school but never had an opportunity to actually say in an authentic context). The fog cleared to give us wall to wall blue skies, and a chance to cycle in the sun. 

We set off on a road that was supposedly busy, but in fact was lovely and quiet. The rolling fields of ripening corn, barley and oats, interspersed with ancient churches, abbeys, and chateaux, continued to line out route. A few turns later, and we crossed the border into the Champagne region.

Almost immediately we spotted vineyards - lots of them - striding up hills in straight lines, being tended by hand and by this great machine that trims the vines by driving over the top of them. Well - maybe not literally. The trimming blades and cab are perfectly positioned, high up, so that the driver can go up and down the lines of vines trimming off the tendrils that are not required.

The cycling was blissful. We stopped off in a couple of tiny villages, and had morning tea beside a water fountain in an art commune.

Having reached Chateau Thierry we booked in for a tour of the old hospital (dating from the 1300s). At this point my school girl French was stretched to past breaking point, as the tour was in French. I could understand...about 1 word in 20, and possibly more when the guide was talking about subjects such as eating and ablutions! The Musee de l'Hotel-Dieu un Tresor was an eye-opening mix of exquisite embroidery and carving, along with interesting details such as (I think...translation allowing) nuns who were not allowed to wash, so had copious quantities of flowers and pot pourri around the place to mask the smell.

I'm just about to turn in. We're still wresting a bit with jet lag, and general 'stress hangover'. Very much looking forward to tomorrow.

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