Day fourteen: Pontavert to Reims

We planned an early start in an effort to beat the forecast heat, even though this meant the likelihood of a coffee and pain chocolat was significantly diminished, as the BnB didn’t serve breakfast until 0800 on Sundays. As it transpired, the power went out during the night so we may have spent the €6 pp to get nothing more than an instant coffee and yesterday’s baguettes.

The early morning was a pleasant walk over hill and dale through sleepy villages – and not just sleepy due to it being Sunday. Eventually we passed through one that had a boulangerie, so our daily pain chocolat fix was fulfilled. Immediately after that village we connected with the marked vf trail, which was pleasantly shaded forest trails until we were within cathedral viewing distance of Reims. As with the approach to any bigger city, there is the inevitable transit through industrial areas, but by routing the trail alongside the Marne-Ainse canal, we were spared the worst of any industrial scenery.

Reims is quite beautiful, having been spared the worst ravages of major wars in the past 150 years. Famous for its Cathedral – the current version which was started in 1211 or thereabouts, it has always been the traditional place of coronation for the kings of France, a tradition started by Clovis as recently as 496. The city is undergoing a revitalization programme, which includes refreshed parks and public spaces, and (presumably) the cleaning of public building. Many of them a startlingly white compared to those that still exhibit the grime of recent centuries. The Cathedral has had an ongoing restoration programme for several years as they try to arrest the erosion and degradation of the hundreds (thousands perhaps?) of carvings and statues that adorn the building.

We have a couple of rest days planned for Reims as we are ahead of schedule after our impromptu ‘Tour de Flanders” on bikes at the start of our trip.

Today’s interesting roadside debris was a pristine copy of Chico and the Gypsies, CD1. Too bad we aren’t packing a Sony Discman (remember those?) as we could have had some road trip tunes.

Daily km: 31.4k

A portion of Reims Cathedral (i’m travelling with Sam’s old Nexus 5, which doesn’t have the greatest camera)

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