Day 8

Leaving Epernay, we drove out of Champagne and into Lorraine.

Throughout the trip we avoided freeways and toll roads, sticking instead to small roads in the countryside. The navigational system on the rental car made it easy for us to get from point A to point B, even via the least-traveled roads. I was somewhat surprised to see how rural and farming-oriented it is in this part of France. We saw lots of pastures, dairy and beef cattle, vegetables and commodity crops (corn and soybeans). And vineyards of course. I found it interesting that in Champagne the rows of grapes always run up the slopes of the hills, rather than being terraced. I regret not getting good pictures of the countryside.

We spent the afternoon and evening in the lovely city of Nancy, probably best known for the Place Stanislas, a large 18th century pedestrian courtyard (very much like a Spanish plaza mayor), named for Louis XV’s father in law, the exiled Polish Count who built it. Today it is a World Heritage site, and a fine place to relax after a long day of driving.

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I had my favorite meal of the vacation here. At an Italian restaurant.

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14 comments on “Day 8

  1. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, It really looks like you had an amazing trip. The French have some very interesting farming and gardening techniques. Much the same as the Italians. They will farm every inch of space whether it’s a steep hill or flat ground.

    France is one of those countries that has been around for hundreds of years and has a fascinating history. It’s the very country that helped our begin. If it wasn’t for the French we probably wouldn’t be a country today or our history would be much different.

    So what was your favorite meal of the trip? Maybe you have already said but my computer was in the shop for a spell and I haven’t been online for a day or two.

    Have a great day filled with vacation memories.

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    • Bill says:

      Eating was a real challenge for us. Cherie is a vegetarian, and I am too when I’m away from home. The concept of vegetarianism just doesn’t register with the French and it was very difficult to find French restaurants where we could eat. On the other hand, “ethnic” restaurants had lots of great vegetarian options. We could always get a good meal at Asian or Middle Eastern restaurants, for example. My favorite meal of the vacation (leaving aside our picnics) was a pasta dish I had at an Italian restaurant on Place Stanislas in Nancy. It was superb. I intend to do a separate post about our food experiences in France. Maybe soon.

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  2. Bill, Thanks for posting your travelogue with pictures. It’s enjoyable traveling virtually with you and your wife.
    I traveled across Europe many years ago, hitch-hiking though, so missed a lot of these historic sights.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Daniel. These posts aren’t typical fare for this blog, but I thought some folks might enjoy seeing the sites. I’m a fan of travel blogs myself, though I don’t claim to be any good at it.

      Hitch-hiking would have its own set of rewards I’d guess. Back when I was in school (well over 30 years ago now) I knew quite a few people who hitch-hiked across Europe, although I was never able to go myself. I wonder if that is still a common or popular thing to do…

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  3. avwalters says:

    You are brave, driving in a foreign land. I did once, in Mexico. I was taking my life in my hands! I admit that a GPS would help a lot.

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    • Bill says:

      The GPS made it MUCH easier (and we still had a couple of close calls). We enjoy getting off the beaten path so it’s worth a little risk to us. But I wouldn’t do it if it involved much city driving and I’m not sure I’d try it in Mexico!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the idea of traveling the rural roads.

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  5. rhondajean says:

    Bill, I’m just catching up on a few of my favourite bloggers and see that you and Cherie have had a holiday in France. How wonderful! Great photos of your trip, thanks for sharing them.

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  6. Surprised to see it must have been quite warm there but without checking the map I would guess this is the south of France. We too were surprised by all the farming country in the parts we drove through in early 2002. Must get back there soon!

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    • Bill says:

      We were there in the first two weeks of September so it was still plenty warm.
      When I later researched it, I discovered that France has the sixth largest agricultural economy in the world–first in the EU. That was a surprising discovery. Beautiful countryside too, as I’m sure you remember.

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  7. shoreacres says:

    I stayed in Madrid once, and you’re right that the courtyard resembles that city’s Plaza Mayor. Not only that, Franco still was alive, and although he’d stepped down, his influence was obvious. It was my first experience of being in a place filled with armed soldiers. In Spain, they all had guns. After being told dinner wasn’t generally served until 9 at night, I asked if it was all right for me to be walking the streets alone at that hour. I was told I’d be completely safe, and it didn’t take long to figure out what. Perfect safety isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

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    • Bill says:

      You’re right, I think. There is tension between safety and liberty.
      Your comment makes me think of Michener’s Iberia, which tells of his time there in the mid-60’s. I’m sure you’d enjoy it, if you haven’t already read it.

      There have certainly been some profound changes since then. When they threw off the Franco era, they threw it off with gusto.

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