Champagne and Metz

Who knew? Not me, seems to be the recurrent story.

We skipped Veuve Clicquot and headed for Epernay, where our tour of the Mercier caves was twice the fun (I guess) and half the price. Who knew that Mercier alone have 18km of tunnels kept at 10C? Who knew that champagne is frozen so that the sediment can be expelled before the final fermentation? Not me. Who knew what Blanc de Noir is (as opposed to Blanc de Blanc, or just Brut). We do now, and we bought some.

And so to Metz. Who knew that they too have stained glass by Chagall and Brigitte Simon in their cathedral? Not me. Who knew that Metz has a superb (and huge) underground car park with displays telling you where the vacant spaces are?  After following a random queue to “Parking” we do now.

And so to Alaincourt le cote. Who knew it existed, let alone had a B&B in a street which is scarcely distinguishable from a farm yard? Who knew about Le 12me Borne in Delme, which looks like a run-down village hotel but serves a gourmet dinner for €25? We didn’t, but we do now.

France is full of pleasant surprises – so far. I can’t help feeling that it must get worse, although we scarcely saw the sun today and had to put on a sweater this evening.

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Reims Cathedral

Incredible stained glass. Why did I not know that the cathedral has wonderful windows by Chagall, by Imi Knoebel, by 12 generations of the Simon family and by an unknown abstract artist (who I must look up)?

The disappontment of finding that the Veuve Clicquot tours were fully booked was compensated by a pavement cafe which sent out to get us croissants to go with our coffee, and lunch on a boat on the river Vesle. 13,000 steps this morning so having a quiet afternoon to recuperate before sallying forth to Les Halles to find a meal this evening. We have promised ourselves Champagne.

OK, the other windows were by Brigitte Simon, and are unlike any I have ever seen. Here is one example, called Stream:

  

Reims

Eurotunnel only an hour delayed, straight on to the E26 to Reims in two and a half hours (but the toll was €22).  Novotel is excellent, found a splendid restaurant and had moules frites in the setting sun. We won’t take the car out today – cathedral and champagne in walking distance.