After waking to the sound of rain on my tent at our campsite adjacent to the suspected meth lab/junk hoarder forest just outside Marson, George and I continued heading toward the ville etape city of Epernay.
I was on the lookout for hardware shops as I’d been trying to find metho for my stove in every supermarket that we had visited. So far no luck and I have been reduced to eating cold canned food for dinner and unable to make coffee. That gets old very quickly, although it doesn’t seem to bother George in the slightest. He’s more than happy to eat a cold can of one euro cassoulet (French version of franks and beans with a lump of dodgy looking goose meat) mixed with cous cous.
Thankfully one of the first businesses we passed after getting on the road was a large hardware chain store. Think Bunnings but French. They had a very helpful lad who spoke English and found the alcool a bruler for me.
30km later we reached Epernay where we had a picnic lunch in the park, George interrogated and tested the Office de Tourisme as he likes to do, and he got his fix at an Internet cafe and updated his blog.
Reims was another 30km or so north of Epernay, and a long climb after lunch had us removing some layers. The ride to Reims was on a pretty busy road that had us riding single file on the white line and prevented any conversation.
George has a great love for Carnegie libraries and seeks them out wherever he can. So the Carnegie in Reims was his first stop. It’s certainly a nice library, built in art deco style with a huge chandelier in the foyer.
Next to the Carnegie is an enormous cathedral, built in a similar style to Notre Dame but about twice the size. We rode a lap of the building and then came upon the tourist office which George could of course not resist. Unlike most of these places, this one had a male at the desk, and he was quite an obnoxious creature, not bothering to hide his contempt for tourists asking annoying questions like these;
G: we are looking for a route out of town heading towards Laon
OC: but you are a cyclist, you have a map!
G: yes but only have a large map, not a local one
OC: you can buy a map in the shop here
G: I heard that Louis XVI visited a town near here, is there a monument in the town?
OC: No there is no monument there
G: what about a plaque or something to show what happened?
OC: of course there is a plaque! This is an important thing in French history!!
Monty Python couldn’t have done it any better.