Sunday, 12 July 2015

Day nineteen (Friday) Chalon-en-champagne 18km

Cakes: 1 x croissant each; 1 x tartelet aux citron (Hazel); 1 x tartelet aux apricots (John); Coffee 3 x each

A top cycle touring tip - never travel without ear plugs. They are your friend. In all sorts of situations and places they can help ensure a peaceful sleep. Case in point - even though the campsite was a little on the noisy front last night I had 8 and a half hours luxurious, delicious sleep.

Rested, and not needing to stir until 8am (to go to pick up the baguette and croissant from the camp office), we dallied over breakfast before hopping on our bikes (sans luggage) to have a look at the town with its many layers of history.

On the way in we popped into a supermarche to get a few things that it is tricky to find elsewhere. I popped in leaving John with the bikes. Usually, it's fine. With my limited francais I am able to greet, apologise, ask for directions etc. So, fruit, some veggies, a few other bits and bobs and over to the checkout I head. Wait in line. The checkout lady puts through the first few things and then gets to the fruit and veg. After having a careful look at the bags she then fires something rapid at me in French. I get the bunny caught in the headlights 'please help me look', unable to remember one word of French at that point. She repeats what she has just said, a little faster, and with pointing. Nope - still the bunny feeling. The lovely man in the queue behind me hoves into action and calls one of his friends (Claudette) over (she has finished her shopping and is chatting with a friend). Claudette dashes over, grabs my offending veggies and fruit, and heads back into the which point it occurs to me that I had to weigh and tag them. Claudette comes galloping back with everything sorted. This was an occasion where being able to say thank you in a couple of ways was a bonus!! Lovely folks.

John had a good chuckle before we head into the town to wander through the churches, the incredible cathedral and the gardens. The place has a lovely feel to it, and surprises such as a timber framed wedge-shaped house butted up against a church.

Many of the religious buildings, including the synagogue, were trashed during the revolution with many of the icons taken or broken. There was also a trend for then using the interiors as stables! Needless to say, although much of the stonework is still broken, there is no remaining signs of equine habitation.

The second world war took its toll too, with gates and statues being melted down, and one of the old bridges bombed.

We are planning to head back in this evening to listen to some music (concerts libres), and to sample some more of the local wine. Tomorrow, we have a short day of 35km to Epernay so we can maybe have a glass extra :).

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