Shearwin's in Europe 2018 travel blog

The previous night was not without undisturbed sleep however we felt fine to rise at 0630 hrs and to get on with the day.

We departed the Ibis Hotel, which we thought as very average at 0815 hrs for Kaye to walk Epernay central. Our first stop was an appealing Patisserie/Chocliatter where we had our regular arrangement of three pastries and a coffee; all very delightful.

As we walked the town, I assumed the role of tour guide having walked the area last evening. We concluded with a walk through of the local market which was operating, but not to capacity as it was an off market day

We returned to the hotel at 0930 hrs to check out. An exercise that was not completed without a lengthy discussion over monies already paid and monies on hold. As a consequence we agreed not to pay ( my CC had already been debited ) and for the hotel to draw on monies on hold. Our next exercise was to pay the Marie’s parking fee at Central. A 24 hour stay could be either €8.70 or € 15 and that depended on whether you paid at a machine on entry or was unaware and tried to pay as you left within the 24 hour period. After a lesson on how to operate the most complex parking machine I have seen we were able to negotiate the €8.70 charge. Even then we had difficulty clearing the stations boom gate.

As we were leaving for Verdun we drove along Rue de Champagne, a spectacular street of champagne wine houses like Moet Chandon, Pierre Joulet and Pol Roger.

We were so impressed that we parked and walked the street for the next hour admiring the architect of these magnificent buildings; they truly reflected the wealth and style of those involved in the champagne industry.

The drive to Verdun was through gently rolling paddocks of rich green early crops and scattered corpses of heavy vegetation. A snack break at a roadside servo provided a goats cheese roll and coffee that was shared. The break lifted the drivers spirits."

On reaching Verdun with the intent of touring the significant first World War battlefield, we drove direct to Fort Douaumont to view the fortification so strongly defended by the Germans and recaptured by the French with staggering losses. What had been a solid defensive structure of stone was now a mound of pocketed dirt. However, the subterranean structure is still in place, albeit cold and wet and clearly shows how the fort functioned. It was a well worthwhile visit which I understandably took on my own.

We next visited the battlefield memorial, the Ossuary of Douaumont which contains the bones of the many killed and unrecognisable. A significant and impressively designed monument that shows the high regard the French have for those that died in what was one of their nations greatest battles of all time.

We next toured the Fleury Devant Douaumont Museum which educates on the battle. The exhibition is small but very informative; one would not try to compare it to our War Memorial exhibitions especially as the French have so many to care for and we have only the one. Still a very worthwhile visit.

As we had arranged to meet the host of our Gite for the night at 4pm we departed for the short drive to his house and were on time. We are in a nice attached apartment that has been well appointed. As he speaks only French we had an enjoyable experience communicating using Google - a very pleasant person.

Dinner recommendations matched those of trip advisor and in the end we elected to dine at the Chez Mamie, a very French styled restaurant with character. We elected the three course menu - an escargot voulevent and white asparagus for entrees, veal in cream sauce and salmon and bacon in cream sauce as mains. We finished with a single cheese and brûlée. A Pinot Noir from Colmar supported what was a very tasty meal but far more than we needed, food that is. It was a memorable dining experience for every reason to dine out.

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