Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday, September 2

It is 7C (45F) when Dick gets up. He heads into Varennes for more bread and some tarts. The other bakery in town has reopened today after being closed since August 13 for vacation. They have some wonderful looking tarts and Dick buys two pear/almandine and two mirabelle. Now to the other boulangerie for a loaf of their bread. The pretty young lady in this shop greets Dick warmly and he is out with his loaf of warm, sliced bread (€1.50) in less than two minutes.

A slice in hand, Dick stops at the Pennsylvania Memorial in Varennes. It is impressive but poorly cared for.
The grass has been recently cut but there are weeds growing in the cracks of the stones and trash scattered about. He thinks we will write to the Pennsylvania Monument Commission and bring this to their attention.

The last two slices of breakfast quiche from the Verdun bakery, toast from the bread from our local bakery, jam and tea. Yummy!

Today we get a little culture. About 11:30AM we hit the road with out proverbial tuna sandwiches, Snickers and small cokes. We pick up the A4 and head for Reims with the cathedral dialed into the GPS. Being Sunday, we find a parking place, for free, quite close and walk to it. The Reims Cathedral is stunning as you approach; lacy looking with tons of carved stone. They have situated the reconstructed city back far enough that you can see it from a distance at its front.

Inside, it is not nearly as impressive as the cathedral at Chartres
but then Reims was burned and heavily damaged in September 1914. There are only two panels of the original stained glass, high up on the left wall as you enter and toward the center.
This piece of information was provided to Dick by Vincent Rigaud, a photographer, who has the run of the place. He and Dick struck up a conversation and he talks about the loss that resulted from the WWI. The huge pipe-organ is a reconstruction from parts of the original and new parts. It is only running at 40% and, according to Ms. Rigaud, is magnificent already.
After seeing the cathedral, we split for Carolyn to buy Jack a pin and for Dick to buy three small bottles of Champagne. The shop proprietor selects three that he says represent the best of the three styles of Champagne. They are LeMesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Pol Roger Reserve and Paul Bara Brut Millesime 2004; to be tasted in that order. The shop owner said that the Pol Roger was his favorite. We will see.

From Reims, we drop down to Verneuil where we cross the Marne to the south side and drive up into the vineyards. The grapes seem small to us but they are not ready to pick just yet.

We recross the Marne and head East toward Hautvillers, where Dom Perigon supposedly discovered the process for making Champagne. The scenery is very nice and we enjoy the drive. 

We turn south, across the Marne and visit Epernay. Its central church is not much to see and we head back north of the river to head back to our Cottage.

These drives have been a joy as we have never seen a more beautiful agricultural area in all our travels. Just driving along these small back roads at 50kph is a joy.
Our GPS takes us back various back roads through freshly plowed fields and fields just ready to harvest until we finally regain the A4 and head NE to the Clermont-en-Argonne exit and then north 16k to our cottage.

Home about 6:30PM after seven hours on the road we are ready for drinks and a dinner of spaghetti, salad, red wine and two of the tarts Dick bought this morning in Varennes-en-Argonne. Showers, work on the blog and pictures and some planning for our last day here brings us to bed time.

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