Day 6

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Our journey. Paris to Reims to Epernay to Nancy to Strasbourg to Colmar to Langres to Arc-en-Barrois to Provins

Getting out of Paris wasn’t easy, but I (luckily) avoided crashing our rental car and we eventually found our way out of the city. I’d never driven a car with a navigational system in the dash (I realize they’re standard these days, but I am a hick). It definitely would have been a help. Once we figured it out, a couple of days later, getting around became much easier.

We stopped for lunch in Chateau-Thierry, a town on the Marne.

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Afterwards, just outside of town we stumbled upon a monument in honor of American WWI soldiers who fought nearby.

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On a beautiful site atop a hill overlooking the countryside, the place was deserted.

All week we passed through beautiful and well-tended farmland. France is an agricultural nation, with one of the world’s leading agricultural economies–the largest in the European Union. France is second only to the U.S. in agricultural exports. Unlike the U.S., however, the French countryside is not dotted with farmhouses. Instead, French farmers live in villages and work the farmland that surrounds the village. I’m guessing that this way of living dates to the Middle Ages, when gathering in villages improved security. I regret not having taken more pictures of the farms and countryside.

The first stop on our journey was Reims, famous for its 13th Century cathedral and for its champagne.

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As you can see, the place is getting a face lift.

The kings of France were crowned here for nearly 1,000 years, anointed with sacred oil said to have descended from heaven when the bishop of Reims baptized Clovis, the king of the Franks in the 5th century. Probably the most famous coronation was in 1429, during the 100 years war, when Charles VII was led into the cathedral by 19 year old Joan of Arc. Wearing her armor and carrying her white pennant, it was the climax of Joan’s amazing campaign to defeat the English and restore the crown to a French king.

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Joan of Arc’s story fascinates me. Many years ago we visited Rouen and the saw the place where she was executed, burned at the stake. Convicted of heresy, her principal crime seems to have been that her example challenged the authority of the church hierarchy, and that she dared to wear men’s clothing. She remained a hero to the French people, nevertheless. In 1920 she was canonized.

The cathedral was badly damaged by German bombardment in 1914 but has now been largely restored. Some of the most beautiful stained glass is by Marc Chagall.

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At the end of a long day, we got a hotel room near the cathedral, intending to finish our visit the next day.

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16 comments on “Day 6

  1. avwalters says:

    You drove in Paris! You’re a braver soul than me. I love the Joan of Arc tale, especially as I don “men’s” apparel and head out to tend the bees.

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    • Bill says:

      I can assure you it will never happen again. I drove a rental car out of the heart of Paris on our first trip 16 years ago too. Both times I’ve done it I’ve come within an eyelash of wrecking. This time I stalled the car on a roundabout. If we ever go back we’ll just take the subway back to the airport and depart from there. Trying to be prudent I compared the cost of the train to the airport versus the extra fee for dropping off the car at a different location and the latter was slightly cheaper. But in hindsight, not worth it!

      I find Joan of Arc to be one of the most interesting persons ever. What a fascinating story.

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      • avwalters says:

        My favorite surprise in Paris was the Chapelle Expiatoire, in the 8th. I get a little stir crazy in cities–not enough foliage for me to be comfortable. So we were walking and found a property surrounded by garden and trees (in more the English fashion), surrounded by an iron fence and gate. I had to check it out, if only for the moment of quiet surrounded by greenery. It turned out to be a Chapel dedicated to Louis IV and Marie Antoinette–with a number of stories about their incarceration and assassination. Only in this one quiet little place did I see any humanity and regret about how the revolution short changed these monarchs. It’s a peaceful place, a nice stop from the bustle of Paris.

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      • Bill says:

        That sounds like just our kind of place! And we’re both fascinated by those two, especially Cherie. This will go on our list of places to visit should we ever be there again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No driving for me in Paris, Bill. You are a brave man. Beautiful photos of Reims. –Curt

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  3. shoreacres says:

    While I’m sure the reversed lanes and steering make things much worse, driving in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, wasn’t much better. That was such a strange town. From the minute I arrived, all I could think was, “Get me out of here.” I only stayed two nights, and the morning I was slated to leave, I asked the B&B proprietor to forego my breakfast. I was gone before full dawn.

    As for Joan of Arc, one of my early memories is of meeting Jean Seberg, who played her in the 1950s movie. Seberg lived in Marshalltown, Iowa, about 30 miles from my home town. There was a locally famous eye clinic there that we used, and one day, Seberg was in the waiting room when we arrived for an appointment. She was entirely gracious, signed an autograph, and gave me something to tell Daddy about when we got home.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve driven through Arkansas several times. Cherie’s parents used to live in Ft. Smith. But I don’t recall ever having been in Eureka Springs. From your comment, it sounds like we didn’t miss anything.

      Great story about the actress. I don’t recall ever having seen that movie, or any other movie about Joan. It’s such a great story I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t turned into a movie lately. But thinking about how badly they’d likely mangle the story, I suppose that too is a good thing.

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  4. Zambian Lady says:

    Beautiful photos and it seems you had a great time and learning moments. I also find it interesting that farmers live in town and then commute to their fields in some countries. Similarly in Zambia, some tribes have individual homesteads while others live in a village as a community and walk to their fields everyday.

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    • Bill says:

      Interesting. I can see the advantages of gathering in a village like that. I think individual homesteads was the way rural people lived in Great Britain, which probably explains why that become the model here in the US too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. hamertheframer says:

    You’re getting the hang of this travel-blog malarkey!

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  6. I think you’re brave for driving yourself in such unfamiliar surroundings. Love public transportation on tours to new places, but can’t get to all the good stuff that way. Thanks for sharing more photos. The architecture!!!! Wow.

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    • Bill says:

      We stayed off the major highways. Navigating the back roads was easy and fun. Beautiful countryside and hardly any traffic. Reminded me of home. 🙂

      On those occasions when we had to go into a city however, that was an entirely different story and produced plenty of stress and opportunities to mess up. The navigational system in the car was a huge help.

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