We leave for Troyes, the city that gave us the ‘Troy ounce’, but first we drive around in Reims, pronounced Rhance with a nasal sound at the end. It’s a difficult word to pronounce. It is not especially picturesque, but we decide to find something of interest as this is center of the champagne production area.
So, we go to Mumm’s Champagne (which is pronounced moom) where it has been produced since 1827. We arrive just in time to join three gals from Boston for a tour. The tour guide is wonderful, full of life, and tells us about: the villages where the grapes come from, vintage, brut, the two fermentation processes, 25,000 bottles in the cave (cavern), 25 kilometres of chalk tunnels, the twisting of the bottles by one quarter turn, the angle of the bottles: 20, 30, 40 and 60 degrees, the sediment, the extraction – no wonder it cost a few dollars a bottle!
We finish with a glass of champagne. Legally, only France can use the name ‘Champagne’ as it’s patented. Linda discovers one she likes: demi-sec, the highest sugar content.
It’s a rainy day drive to Troyes, but the traffic isn’t too bad and we drive at an average speed observing the flat lands of this region. The fields appear to grow potatoes and turnips and very green fields.
When we get to Troyes we find the hotel is full. We check some others and find out there is a convention in town. This is the first time we have been caught like this however France isn’t exactly a 3rd world nation, and besides we have our GPS to get us to somewhere.
We decide to continue to Paris and stop at a rest stop for a coffee and regroup. Our route goes by Fontainebleau so we go there first. It has an immense ‘Palais de Fountainebleau’, over 1,600 rooms where Europe’s royalty has stayed forever. Alas, it is closed for the season so we can’t stay for the night which would most probably cost $2,000 per night.
So onward to Melun, an obscure place that takes us through the forest of Senart for about 30 minutes – formerly the hunting grounds for nobility which is huge and beautiful.
We find a hotel and a McDonalds to rest up before out final road trek back to Paris. On a trip where these newlyweds have learned much about each other, Mark discovers that Linda has never had a Big Mac before – traveling always opens one to new experiences. He buys.