Cakes: 1 croissant each; 1 pain au chocolat shared; 1 tarte fraise (Hazel), one ecalire vanille (John); Coffee 2 x each
Tired legs in the morning suggested that we had made the correct decision to take a day off. Commercy, somewhere we knew little about, delivered big. It's a town full of history, restored (and very old buildings), and some delightful spots by the river. Les chats are also very friendly (and numerous), although in the heat, most are draped on various surfaces asleep.
Very short report from le poulet glace as John has written some fabulous bits below.
Currently settled in a nice little hotel in Commercy taking a well deserved day of rest. It is not your usual tourist destination but was once the exile home of Stanislas (Stanislaw) following the War of the Polish Succession. Like most of Lorraine and surrounding areas it was rebuilt after the wars but there is still a medieval feel to it in places. There is also a bit of Art Nouveau to be found here, most notably a chemists with beautiful wooden paneling and stained glass.
Temperatures remain thermostat poppingly high at over 40c by mid afternoon. Cycling has to start early and be over by 2pm at the lastest. I had thought my desert training in Dubai would help, but cycling in the blistering heat is a far different activity to hopping from a chilled house into a chilled car in order to visit a shopping mall with a ski slope and resident penguins. I wonder how the Tour de France will do when it gets here.
On the road to Commercy we saw another baguette dispenser being loaded with crusty loaves. I am looking forward to seeing (and using) my first pain au chocolat dispenser. Along the way I have also noted the large number of hairdressers in rural France. They are everywhere. There are more Chez Le Coiffeur than boulangeries and patisseries combined. But while the latter are full for the few hours they are open, the hairdressers appear open all day yet empty. There are aspects of the culture that the casual tourist will never understand.
Tomorrow (Sunday) is an early start to get us to Neufchateau and finish our trip along the River Meuse before we start heading West towards Paris. It has been an interesting opportunity to get to grips with some WW1 history and a surprise to see how much impact that this war still has on the people here. After reading of the horrors, and imagining that it was far worse than can ever be told, I can begin to understand how the impact could be felt across generations and centuries.
On a cheerier note, we are off to watch some dance tonight after a meal in the gentle evening sun at a street side cafe. For me, this is all but perfect.
Highlight of the day: Stopping in a tiny village in the shade of an old house to read the map and being offered fresh cold water by the owner, puzzled by our journey and concerned for our welfare.