Day 11

We enjoy traveling without any preset plan and without any reservations. That way it feels a little more like wandering, and gives us the freedom to linger in a place, or leave it quickly, depending on how it suits us and without being required to be in a particular place at a specific time. Traveling that way has put us in an anxious spot a few times, but it’s also led us to some of our most memorable and interesting places we’ve been.

When I sketched out an itinerary for the driving part of our vacation, I had nothing on it after Colmar. I knew we needed to turn west, back towards Paris, but beyond that I had no idea where we should go. Looking through a guidebook in our hotel room, we decided to drive toward Langres, an ancient town in southern Champagne. That turned out to be an excellent decision and the day turned out to be one of the best of our trip.

Langres is a walled town, on a high hill overlooking beautiful countryside. Despite its beauty and charm, we seemed to be the only tourists there.



We had the cathedral to ourselves.






The streets were also quiet and uncrowded

We had lunch at a cafe in the town square, where I enjoyed my first moule frites of the trip.



M. Diderot overlooked the restaurant

Unsure if we should stay the night in Langres, or press on, Cherie looked to see if there were any Airbnb options in the area. She found a place not far away that looked interesting and booked it with her phone. That turned out to be a great decision.

Our room was in a chateau in the tiny village of Arc-en-Barrois. It was probably the most beautiful place we stayed during the trip. It was also the least expensive.


Our chateau

We had the place almost entirely to ourselves. There were two other couples there but we only saw them briefly.



The dining room seemed a little larger than necessary



There was a beautiful old church right outside our window. Its bells called the faithful at 7 a.m., loudly enough to wake the dead. Fortunately for us we’re morning people.




The village was also quiet and peaceful. Our kind of place.





Every village has a memorial to those who died in WWI.

We ended the day reading quietly and enjoying a bottle of wine, one of the highlights of our trip.


It was a wonderful day–one I expect we’ll never forget.


24 comments on “Day 11

  1. My kind of travel, Bill. Flip a coin and see what happens. The Airbnb was quite the find. Really liked the old church and the flowered walkway. –Curt


  2. Allison says:

    That airbnb choice was amazing! The whole day was amazing. You two traveled very well that day.


    • Bill says:

      It was a very lucky find. This was the only time we stayed at an airbnb on the entire trip. If someone wanted nightlife and restaurants they probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it much. But it was perfect for us.


  3. Ed says:

    I like to travel the same way as well. Back when I was single, I used to simply take off not knowing where I was heading but knowing once I got there. My two kids are still young so I haven’t done that kind of thing in awhile but I hope to return once they’ve grown a bit.


    • Bill says:

      We’ve done it with kids, but it’s definitely riskier. A couple of times we’ve had trouble finding places to stay, but it always worked out. We don’t travel much anymore, but when we do my wife insists that we have a reservation for the first night. After that we just drift along.


  4. Michelle says:

    Oh my, that does look like a PERFECT place to be! I can imagine hanging out there and taking walks around that beautiful city and countryside for at least a week! I’ve never had the privilege of traveling like that, so I love to do it vicariously through others’ experiences; thanks for sharing.


    • Bill says:

      We spent a lot of time in cities and crowded places on this trip, but I’ll take a day like that over a day in a crowded city any time. 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


  5. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, architectures that take more than one life time to build just amaze me. Building that take 100 years to build are unheard of here in the states. The intricate statues and carvings are beautiful. It’s a bit over whelming to think about the number of hours of labor that went into building those elaborate structures. To construct those massive buildings without power equipment is a engineering feat in itself. It truly is marvelous what mankind can accomplish when they have focus and goals.

    Thank you for sharing your travels with us. Have a great garden down time day.


  6. avwalters says:

    We could gladly skip nightlife and such. Your day seemed perfect to me. We have trouble moving out of “burning daylight” mode–and slowing down enough to enjoy. We save that for rainy days and blizzards, but it’s tough to plan a vacation that way.


    • Bill says:

      Believe me, I understand. That’s why we went 12 years without a vacation.

      It’s funny to me as I look back at this post. I’m sure my reaction will resonate with you. Immediately after posting that I went to a friend’s place to help him process a hog. This morning when doing a routine check of the back pasture I found a goat with her head stuck in the fence. I don’t know how long she’d been there, but it had been at least a day. I got her unstuck and she galloped away, without so much as a thank you. After breakfast I looked outside and saw a huge red tail hawk swoop down and land in the door of our chicken coop. I jumped up and raced for the door, but before I could get outside a crow dive-bombed the hawk and chased it away. This evening I shot and field dressed a deer, then carried it over to a neighbor who will make it into summer sausage for me. When I got back home the last bit of daylight was fading away as I went out to shut the door on the coop where earlier the hawk had attacked, and been defeated by a crow. As I locked the chickens in for the night a row of geese flew overhead. It was so quiet out that I could hear the sound made by their wings.

      A couple of months ago I was sipping bordeaux and reading Balzac in a 300 year old chateau in Champagne, which we had to ourselves. That makes for a good day on vacation. Those other things, I think, make for a good life.


  7. Oh what a beautiful exquisite place to visit.. Sometimes following our intuition is often the best guide ever.. What a memorable experience you had..
    Such stunning views and to have the place almost to yourselves to explore.. 🙂 Fabulous..

    Thank you Bill for dropping in.. its good to be back here again on WP after my absence..
    I send you and yours my best wishes for a beautiful Christmas.. Enjoy your relaxing time if you have any 🙂 And sending Love and Peace for 2017 and way beyond..

    Hugs Sue 🙂


  8. What a perfect day!

    Hubby and I used to travel without reservations, but in the past few days, we have given up on that as several times we were unable to get a room and had to drive miles and miles further. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a literal ‘roach” motel we HAD to stay at –and we got the last room there. Don’t know if that was a score though, as I ended up with bed bug bites. Horrible.

    But oh, do I miss the “spontaneous” trips. You guys sure had a great trip!


    • Bill says:

      We’ve had a couple of late nights looking for a place and have had to stay in sketchy places a few times. But never that bad. I can’t blame you for not taking the chance any more!


  9. jan2132 says:

    Loved your travel post. My son and his bride spent a bit over a month travelling by hired Renault all over the place. We are Australian and Australia is an ancient land but basically has a young culture. They fell in love with the place. Are saving up for next trip. They drove across to Mont St Michel then south, east and north. Pretty well all Air BnB. They thoroughly enjoyed several nights in a village of six houses somewhere outside Strasbourg. A little old wood heater, well over a century old and a slow combustion cooker similar to one I used to have. My son enjoys splitting wood and split and stacked a large load for the owner, welcome exercise after driving many days. Owner rewarded him with a couple of nights free, so I have knitted a new hat and scarf to replace his old one which had more holes than fabric.


    • Bill says:

      That sounds like our kind of trip! If we ever go back we’ll do more Airbnb stays. We’re Airbnb hosts ourselves.

      By American standards we have an old culture here in Virginia. By European standards we don’t. 🙂


  10. shoreacres says:

    This is exactly the way I like to travel, and the sorts of place that I love: tourist-free. I don’t begrudge anyone their right to flood to the places that have better PR people than the out-of-the-way spots, but they can have them. There’s enough in the world to see for us all, and I’m a wanderer. As the good Mr. Tolkien wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.”


    • Bill says:

      Your comment makes me smile. That Tolkien quote was the motto of a good friend, who died tragically–way too young. He loved wandering and he loved Tolkien. I’m glad to have him brought to mind.

      I can handle cities and crowds, in small doses, but I don’t like them much. I prefer places that are quiet and uncrowded. I think this was the best day of the trip.


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