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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Champagne Ardenne, France

Oct 8, 2018 - Saint-Quentin

We took a slight detour through the Orient Natural Forest and lake area on the way to St-Quentin for something a little different and were well rewarded with its quiet beauty. A little further along the way we visited the ruins of a 12C chateau at Fere-en-Tardenois which was spectacular. The entry bridge was amazing and very much like a Roman era structure. Nestled next to the chateaux's moat was a 19C hotel which was gorgeous but very expensive. While in the Somme area we visited the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery from WWI and WWII and were...

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Oct 7, 2018 - Troyes

The closer we got to our overnighter at Saint-Andre-les-Vergers near Troyes the more vineyards there were. Although quite a large town Troyes had a great atmosphere along the Seine and especially within its medieval centre. An incredible number of 15th and 16th C wattle and daub buildings remain intact in defiance of their age while many others are undergoing restoration. It was the capital of Champagne prior to the French Revolution and dates back to the Roman era.

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Oct 3, 2018 - From cathedral to forest

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...

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Oct 2, 2018 - The cat and the rabbit

We were to bid farewell to Épernay today. After breakfast in our lovely apartment, we packed up the Fiat 500 and headed into the town to explore it a bit more. We found a place to park next to St Peter and St Paul’s Church, which was a pretty standard as churches go in France. However, there was an organist practising up above, which was a nice surprise, and he serenaded us with La Traviata as we left. We walked around the town a bit but it was pretty quiet, so after a cuppa at Le Progrès brasserie (same as our first night), we hit the road...

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Oct 1, 2018 - On the champagne trail

It was our last full day in the Champagne region, so we thought it would be nice to follow one of the many champagne tourist routes that we’ve spotted around the place. So we decided to take a circuit to the west of Épernay along the Vallé de Marne. We started following the Marne River along its southern bank. Once again, the slopes were blanketed with vines and punctuated with tiny little villages, each with their own champagne makers and cellars. This area too, especially to the northwest, is rife with Romanesque churches, in various...

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Sep 30, 2018 - Gothic glory

Today is our day to revisit Reims and redeem our memories of the city. Last time we were there we had booked into an appalling, noisy hotel, and so escaped first thing the next morning to a luxury hotel in Luxembourg. We saw nothing of the rest of Reims, so we really needed to fix that oversight. Reims is only about half an hour’s drive north of Épernay and we headed straight for the cathedral this time, and holy cow, what an architectural marvel. Having been being heavily damaged during World War I, it has been (and is still being)...

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Sep 29, 2018 - Grand Final blues and champagne

Jane woke early this morning to watch the Grand Final between the Pies and the Eagles. It was a close, tense match but disappointingly went the Eagles’ way in the dying minutes. No singing of the Pies anthem today! But we got on with our plans and after a hotel breakfast walked up the road to get our Hertz hire car for the next few days. Happily we have been given a super cute three-door Fiat 500, a driver’s car, with sensitive steering and a responsive, if small, engine. We're particularly happy because, not surprisingly, it's so much...

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Sep 24, 2018 - Sedan Castle

On our last night on the road, we stayed in Sedan, the fortress city on the French-Belgian border where the final battle of the Great War was fought. At Sedan, the Allies captured the most important German rail supply line. We didn’t really have any WWI sites to tour in Sedan, but we got our final briefing at our overnight hotel, which happened to be in a castle that was first built in the 11th century. Lots of additions since then, but still...really old. Part of the castle has been converted into a 5-star hotel with an absolutely...

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Sep 19, 2018 - Rheims

We are staying tonight in the ancient city of Rheims, where we will make our base for 3 days as we go out to tour other sites. Founded by the Gauls, Rheims became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire and played a prominent ceremonial role in French history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. The Cathedral of Reims (damaged by the Germans during the First World War but restored since, although they are still working on it) is a gorgeous Gothic cathedral with many similarities to the cathedral at...

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Sep 17, 2018 - Beginning the World War Battlefield Tour

Met my tour group this morning at 8:30 to board the bus. There are 15 of us, including 5 women. We have 2 guides, one of them a WWI historian and the other one the guy who does all the logistics. He and about 2/3 of the group are from Gettysburg and have all done several of these battlefield tours together. I’m about the youngest, except for Anthony, the unofficial tour photographer. I thought most of the people would have ancestors who had fought in the war, but it turns out that only 3 of us are in that category. The rest are just...

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Aug 27, 2018 - Stage 3 St Dizier to Chaumont

Overview/ Highlights Text to be added Distance Today. 90km Total Distance 217km Elevation Gain 384m Weather Overcast or light rain for most of the day. But it wasn’t cold. 20C Accommodation Hostellerie Au Rendez-vous des Amis Food Picnic lunch and 3 course evening menu at hotel for €[4.50 # Punctures.1 Helen Total Punctures 1

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Aug 26, 2018 - Day 2 - Chalons to St Dizier

Today the perfectly manicured champagne vineyards are behind us - just a memory. Instead we rode through farming country or (au contraire) with water to the left, or water to the right, or water on both sides. This is aquatic highway canal country and mostly very flat. The building of these canals must have been at the time major projects much like our 8-Lane highways. How they built them by hand, with picks and shovels, seems a miracle. Smoko today turned into lunch, due to a late start - it was in Vitry Le Francois at 34km, under the...

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