Some of the best village ramparts in France
Champagne is a marvellous wine but I am not a huge fan of the scenery of the eponymous region! This is the France of the stereotype. A high rolling plateau cut by wide deep valleys. The roads are straight, very straight and the fields are big, very very big and there are no hedges at all and very few trees except for the glorious mature plane trees lining many of the roads. The day was grey, misty and gloomy and we took few photos as we travelled today although the autumn colours would have been magnificent with just a little brightness. Even the vines were turning golden in the vineyards along the road.
The highlight of the journey was crossing the Seine which was a big river even 80+ miles upstream of Paris. It was a sort of marker on our journey that we are now south of the Seine and thus south of Paris. The big marker is a few days away yet, when we cross the watershed between the Loire valley and the Rhone valley, from rivers flowing to the Atlantic and rivers flowing to Mediterranean. We can but dream of such exotic locations at the moment.
We arrived at Saint Julien-du-Sault at 12:30 which we thought was a very civilised time to finish the days drive. Plenty of time to service Bertie at the free (!) services, cook a proper lunch and have plenty of time to explore this little medieval town.
The aire is great. Free water and waste disposal is rare and very welcome. Hot showers on Bertie tonight as we can fill up the water tank again tomorrow. The Aire has 12 generous spaces with hard surfaces and marked out with hedges. Did I mention the free services? There were three French vans when we arrived and a Belgian van has just arrived as I write this at 5pm.
After a lunch of tuna omelette and veg made with much travelled eggs from Kinloss (thank you Alison and Owen) we trotted off to explore the town. We followed the route kindly displayed on the aire noticeboard alongside the little stream and passed the old mill. The town is lovely. A higgledy medley of buildings all squished together with no clear order or design. This place clearly evolved over very many years! We did not go in the church as there was a funeral taking place. We did however walk over two miles around quite a small town. There were just so many tiny alleyways, courtyards and little roads to be explored. There is a big museum in a super timbered building but sadly closed in the winter. One of the highlights was the piece of stone saved from the ruins of the Bastille and set up in a wall with an inscription to explain that it was put there to celebrate the second anniversary of the Revolution.
Whilst many of the buildings are very French others are more Germanic and I guess this is because this area is close to Burgundy which was a separate country for a long time and only became French in 1678. Some of the buildings we saw will be quite a bit older than that.
Whilst we were walking around the town we saw a large v shaped skein of large birds fly over. At first we thought they were geese such as we have seen so often in Scotland. However these did not honk to each other, were in perfect formation and had long legs behind them. I am pretty sure these were storks.