Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Day of Touring in Reims

Yesterday evening we shared a pizza for dinner, with our beers, and then walked over to find the Laundromat (la laverie) that is listed in Rick Steves book….ops….closed for good! Guess we’ll have to do some hand laundry today. We also went to the Train Station and purchased our tickets for the train ride to Epernay on Thursday…she only spoke French but I had written everything out in English and French before going so it was easier to be understood. Afterwards, Jim asked me about seat reservations…forgot that one…so if it’s crowded we’ll be standing for the half hour ride! Live and learn…the joys of traveling in foreign countries!

I read my Twitter last night on the Internet and found some interesting information on the Tour de France….I follow Lance Armstrong and several other bike riders. The race yesterday created an unusual phenomenon; they said it was like skating on ice at one point in the rain…riders were all falling and even some who got off their bikes and were walking fell…like being on sheets of ice! Even Lance had a banged up elbow and bruises on his hip from a fall. Another item about yesterday’s race: we’re not quite sure why but apparently they were protesting something and that is why they all rode in to the finish line in a group and did not do any chasing….as my sister said in an email: “they may live to regret those lost 3 minutes”. All the commentary that we have is in French so we’re at a loss on the reasons. (We later discovered online that they were protesting the road conditions!)

Enjoyed a cooler evening and when we walked to the Cathedral this morning for 8 am Mass; we were actually looking for the sunshine to walk in as it was cool. Mass was held in the Marc Chagall chapel and the small chapel was full by the time it started; a few tourist like us but mostly French men and women. Walked home and enjoyed our muffins that we purchased yesterday evening at the McCafe in McDonalds that is a few blocks away. Very little opens before 10 am in the morning. The laundry (yes, we’re doing our own in the room) is nearly done and we’re off to visit the Tourist Center and museums in town.
We found our grocery store; not in the C&A as we thought but across the street in the basement of the Galleria Lafayette. It was called the gourmet … but the prices were great! Walked on over to the Tourist Office where they had a great display of bicycles from the very old to the new in preparation for the Stage ending in Reims on Wednesday. We picked up brochures, maps and information before heading to the Palais du Tau, the Bishop’s house centuries ago and now a Museum about the Cathedral; the coronations over the centuries and a wonderful exhibit about movies made on the subject of Joan d’Arc.

We enjoyed strolling through the rooms including upper and lower chapels, the Tau Room that was used for Banquets after the coronations. The Charles X room was devoted to the last coronation celebrated in Reims. There was a replica of the jeweled crown used to crown Louis XV in the 19th Century; and Coronation Robes used for Charles X in 1825…lots of blue velvet and Ermine fur! Also display cases full of religious and royal pieces of gold and silver; including the talisman belonging to Charlemagne (9th century), the coronation chalice (12th century) and the reliquary of the Resurrection. One interesting display consisted of several gargoyles (rain spouts) that were filled solid with lead…the results of the roof melting as the building burned during a fire in the twelfth century.

Completing our tour we headed back for the Galleria Lafayette grocery store to purchase our picnic food for the next three days. Back to the hotel for lunch in our rooms, some computer time and to watch today’s Tour de France on television. And it was an exciting race over many cobblestone roads resulting in several accidents and many flat tires! Frank Schleck is out of the race with a broken collarbone; Lance Armstrong slipped to 18th position, 2 minutes 30 seconds behind the leader, after a flat tire with no team car in sight! Yesterday’s accidents resulted in Garmin’s (a USA Team) leader Vande Velde Christian out of the race with broken ribs. It was nearly 5:30 pm here in Reims when the last riders arrived at the finish line. Thor Hushovd came in first today…but Cancellara regained the yellow jersey as the overall leader of the Tour de France.

We decided to go walking to discover the path that the Tour will take as it enters Reims tomorrow afternoon for a finish in town…well almost…it’s nearly out of town. We walked towards the City Hall, the Hotel de Ville, thinking that might be the finish…we didn’t find anything indicating a race tomorrow…ie: metal barriers, signs for no parking, etc. Kept walking with our map and a very nice man asked if he could help us….when we started speaking English….he only spoke French but stopped a nice young lady and asked her to help us after he made sure she spoke English. Yes! She not only spoke English she knew the route! She took our map and my pen and marked the route for us. We were headed in the right direction. Kept going to Place Aristide Briand and there we found tents and a security guard along with metal barriers stacked for closing off the streets tomorrow. He gave us some more directions and we continued to walk until we finally found one of the green “tour de France” route signs with the large arrow. That area is not more than a twenty minute walk from the hotel but if we decide to go to the actual finish we’ll have … Jim says thirty minutes….I say an hour walk tomorrow. So we may leave about 3 pm as we figure the riders will arrive about 5 pm. But at least we now know where to go.

Walking back towards the Cathedral we found a large group of students making multiple drawings of the Cathedral in their sketch books. I stopped for another photo and realized they were all speaking English. So with a “so where’re you from” question discovered they were a group of students from the University of Ohio….all Architectural majors.

Home to the hotel for a picnic dinner of tuna and rice with bread and a glass of wine from our shopping trip earlier today while watched the evening news on CNN….so nice to not only have English but compared to twenty years ago they don’t give you the same story every twenty minutes! Weather wise it’s been a very comfortable day but hot weather is a comin’….Jim is searching online to see if he can find a reasonable hotel in Colmar with Central Air Conditioning! The one we have reservations at does not…they are predicting 90+ degree weather over the weekend. I think that he’s on a wild goose chase!

I’m going to say goodnight….we’re waiting for dusk to walk back to the Cathedral when the lights come on for photos. Hopefully, I’ll share those with you tomorrow. A bientot….

1 comment:

Mary said...

Hello Jansen's in Reims
Enjoyed reading about the race..your blog plus the USA paper is keeping me informed on the race. Was interesting to read about your visit to Palais du Tau, the Cathedral museum. We missed that when we were in Reims..the Cathedral pictures were so good..memories of Marc Chagall. Wish Jim luck on the AC in Colmar