19th October 2016 - 25th October 2016
We went to France because our good friend Nick was there. Some of you know Nick and will get all the issues that Travels with myself and Nick could raise. Ross was a saint!
The first problem was Nicks friend who was also going to meet us. Jamie has a few issues that will not be discussed here, needless to say Jamie did not really want to do anything we wanted to do and wanted to do about 3 times more stuff, racing us around at a million miles an hour. We eventually calmed him down and explained we were old folk and did not race around and we also did not share hotel rooms!! Then it all went pear-shaped again and to cut a long story short, after we had booked and paid for a few tickets. Nick decided Jamie was too difficult and that he was not coming.
So off we went to France. First issue trains were not running to time table due to work on the tracks and so were stopping all stations to London, we catch a train one hour earlier than anticipated. Just as well we were early the queues at Eurostar, where awful lucky not only were we in a queue but 20 of us so they actually delayed the train we all ran and got on first carriage. The trip was uneventful. In Paris we had a super walk from the station to our hotel. Got a nice feel for Paris. The hotel was cute and the room very nice. Later that night we met Nick and had a great French meal in The Pharmacia!!
The next day was just Ross and I so we walked to the Seine with a stop at the marvellous Picasso museum. The museum was huge and had paintings from all though Picasso’s life, not just the period we all think of. We eventually got to the Seine just in time for the rain!!! We decided on a trip on the river and went to a tour operator with a bar to wait in. The guy said the girl would take our money, the boat was delayed by 15 minutes by which time I was a bit tired and over it. So we got on the boat forgetting we had not paid anyone. Result free trip and it was very nice, we got off at the Eiffel tower and had a wander around.
The day after was my day, as Nick informed me if it went wrong it was all my fault. Oh dear and I was taking them both to Monet’s Garden. We set off by train 2nd class much to Nicks disgust. It was fine. Arrival at Vernon and bus to Giverny and the garden. I was in seventh heaven. A dull day but lovely colours and the water lily garden was just as I expected, except for the commentary from the males in the party. 5 minutes and they have had enough of the garden. I managed to send them into the shop while I spent more time. Then into the house, so good not to be missed but why was it that the boys were waiting for me as I cam out. They were a bit Monet out so we went to the Museum. The exhibition was by a guy called Sorolla who does fantastic things with light and shadows. The boys were disappointed there was not much Monet!! The vote was time to go, so off we went to the bus stop. Bus gone, 1 ½ hours wait so lunch it is. We found the one place open as it is out of season! Lucky for me it was basic but good. Then after lunch we got the bus back and a decision was made to return to Paris early even though our ticket was for later (no blame). Yes, you guessed it, ticket inspector and a 50 euro fine each for travel without a ticket!!! Cheap dinner tonight.
The third day was Nicks day and we were booked at a restaurant in the country, that Nick had a connection to. 1st class train tickets to Calais Frentum, Nick explained this was a small country station and not to be worried a taxi would be waiting. We arrived at a huge station in fact it is a Eurostar connection (Nick has not been there for a while). We got to the taxi rank, no taxi’s and all the numbers to call had French answer machines at the other end, we rang the restaurant, they only speak French too. We stood in the rain and all the taxis that arrived were taken by the French train travellers, then we got one. Off to Ardres, a gorgeous cobblestoned town, a really old church, Nick and I lit candles. I think mine was a pray to get back to Paris safely (kidding). Lunch was amazing the chef had trained with Paul Bocuse. The food was fabulous. We stayed and enjoyed ourselves until we had to rush off and get the train. A fantastic day. Nick had pulled it off after all!!
Second half of our French trip and off to Reims. Someone (no blame) had decided we would see more from a bus so we caught the bus at 7:00 am. It’s a shame its dark, until 8:00 when the fog came up with the sun. Thick fog, it did not matter as everyone was sleeping!! Reims Champagne tour here we go. We did 3 houses, and guess what the two that were almost next door we had tour times as first and last, good planning!! Pommery first, a magnificent house and Art in the cellar, very interesting, two nice champagnes to taste, Oh yes two from Jamie’s ticket also. Then across the city to Mumm’s decided to go straight there as we did not want to be late! Um its lunch time everything closed for an hour and nowhere to eat. We checked out the cemetery for something to do and could not get in!! Mumms was the best tour of all and the tour guide excellent (her last tour she is setting up her own business). We purchased the bottle of Champagne that we tasted it was good. Then the last winery GH Martel. Old and basic but good. Quick Facts 250 Kilometres of cellars under Reims and about a billion bottles.
We took Nick back to the railway station and after the worst meal in France, put him on the train. It was sad saying good bye to Nick as we will not be seeing anymore Aussies for a while. We went sadly back to our hotel room and had a good Champagne induced sleep.
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Sightseeing in Reims. The cathedral was very gothic and I was thrilled to find that three of the stain glass windows had been done by my favourite artist Marc Chagall. I spent a while just looking. Joan of Arc also has a connection here and there is an altar to her in the cathedral. Then we suddenly felt all tourist’ed out and it was raining. So end of holiday in France. We went home the next day. Without incident.
Back in Bracklesham Bay