Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beaune to Rheims

Something I forgot to mention about Nuit St. Georges was that many vineyards are owned by collectives, in one particular case a vineyard of 50 hectares is owned jointly by 83 individuals so each individual may own only a couple of rows of vines. Apparently, this is a result of inheritance laws and death duties.

We had an unusual day in that it didn't pour with rain while we drove but we are both getting to the end of drives feeling quite exhausted so I think that either the sheer amount of driving is finally getting to us or, more likely, the suspension of the ice-cream van is really poor and that is making us more tired than we ought to be. Either way, it isn't that far to go now and we'll be back in decent motorcars with real suspension and comfortable seats.

The rest areas on the side of the motorways are something that the french have really got right. There is a picnic area with toilets on a regular basis and, in addition to this, petrol stops which also have a picnic area attached. It was in one of these picnic areas that we stopped and had a lunch of fresh vegetables on boule-pain which was delicious.

The countryside is intensively farmed and it is just kilo after kilo of fields but, unlike South Africa, there is a wide variety of vegetables farmed. One just doesn't get the same crop for mile after mile like one does in the Free State.

Our last stop in France is Rheims which is in the Champagne region and doesn't have a campsite as far as we can tell from the rough guide, DK, AA camping guide and the GPS camping guide so we checked into a hotel for a couple of nights. We've been camping for about 2 weeks constantly so we're due a couple of nights to remind us why we don't like hotels.

The one we're at was built in 1920 at the same time as the whole of Reims was built after it was destroyed during the first world war, the French are still a little bit bitter and twisted about it, and has a very nice courtyard. The rooms are small but reasonable, the bathrooms good but for some reason Caron and I just don't feel comfortable in hotels.

We went for a walk down what I think is the main drag in the town which has been pedestrianised and there were loads of stag and hen parties going on. It has bars and restaurants all the way down and Caron and I engaged in a game of 'what do you want to eat? - I don't mind, what do you want to eat?' which seems to be our default when we get tired and don't want to actually make any decisions.

One of the unfortunates having to fish rubber ducks out of the fountain with a goldfish net which was way too small.

We eventually decided on a restaurant and Caron had a salmon taglietelle and I had a vegetarian hamburger. Yes, they actually had vegetarian on the menu, in France I must add. The world is changing!

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