Lan and Jane 'do' Western Europe travel blog

A walk in the woods

Gorgeous mosses

Lovely medieval Troyes buildings

We have a full day ahead to further enjoy the delights of Troyes.

Our hotel provides breakfast, so we enjoyed a continental selection of croissants, yoghurt, boiled eggs and cereals. We met one of our hosts, Géraldine, and we chatted in a mixture of French and English, discussing the merits of food in the Aube region.

We walked into town to get an inside look at the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the absolutely enormous columns holding up the vaulted ceiling 30 m above. They seem to be unnecessarily large, even given the quite substantial size of the building. It also features really beautiful stained glass windows. This site has been used as a religious site since at least the 4th century, and in fact is where the Order of the Knights Templar was established in 1128. The current building was begun in 1208 but as usual has suffered numerous disasters over the centuries, both natural and human-induced. There is only one tower, to St Peter, and none for St Paul, so it looks rather lopsided from the outside (but there are plenty of fearsome gargoyles overlooking the visitor to take your mind off that). In 1429, Joan of Arc attended mass here with the Dauphin on her way to Reims to proclaim him Charles VII of France, in defiance of the Treaty of Troyes that would have installed Henry V of England as king.

Troyes not only has numerous ancient churches within its bounds, but also several museums. Unfortunately, the ones we wanted to visit (the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Beaux-Arts) were closed, either partially or in their entirety, for renovations. So instead we went back to our hotel for a simple lunch of baguettes, ham, cheese and tomato.

The afternoon was then free for us to explore the nearby Parc naturel régional de la Forêt d’Orient, which comprises some 70,000 hectares of forests, three reservoirs and recreation areas. The forest was just gorgeous, with that luminous green that European forests enjoy. At one point there was a substantial covered platform built to allow twitchers to examine the abundant bird life. Luckily when we arrived there, we had the place to ourselves, so we could enjoy the woods in peace; but just as we were leaving a big group of Swiss twitchers arrived, armed with binoculars and enormous camera lenses, so we were happy to be departing.

On the northern side of the reservoirs is a nice long new bike path, which we noted for a potential future visit. We followed along beside this path as we headed back to Troyes for a pleasant afternoon break back at our hotel.

For our last restaurant meal for a while, we chose a local Turkish restaurant, Le Bosphore, which a passing local told us sold the best kebabs in Troyes. Indeed the kebabs (turkey!) were delicious and came with salad, chips and an unidentified grain.

Our bike and barge tour starts tomorrow. We’ll have limited access to wifi for the 11 days of the tour, but will try to keep up our blog at various stops along the way.

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