So after nearly a week in Paris, we embarked on yet another exciting adventure…going to Reims. Reims is about an hour and ten minute train ride from Paris. Our plan was to head to Reims today, hang out & get our bearings, then find out the best place to be for the Tour de France stage ending there the following day.
And away we go! Brian was not feeling the best. I think our late night, plus the illness he battled for the majority of the trip, were taking a toll on him.
We caught our subway from Tuileries to Gare du Nord train station. It was a Twilight Zone-esque kind of place. All sorts of strange birds were flying around, including actual birds, in a hurry. We were unsure how long it would take to get to the train station & aboard our train, so we were actually very early. At this point, I was really exhausted and tired of having to think so much. My high school French was not nearly as good as I thought…thanks a lot, Madame Connell.
Fortunately we were safe during our stay at the train station. And this gives a whole new meaning to security guard:
Finally it was time to board our train. In fact, we nearly missed it. We did not realize that the destination screens displayed only the final destinations…since we had a connector train (more on this later), it did not show our destination on screen.
After we settled in for a long winter’s nap for our train ride, Brian took a much needed siesta, and I attempted to take pictures of the countryside. Unfortunately, I ended up with a lot of blurry shots of bushes:
After we switched trains in Epernay, I was able to get a few decent vineyard shots. After all, we were headed to champagne country.
When the train arrived in the Reims station, we weren’t quite sure what to do next. Everything I read about our hotel said it was “just minutes” from the train station. However, “just minutes” in which direction was not specified. I had done a google maps walking tour of the town before we left (I really know how to burn up some free time)…however, it appeared there was some remodeling going on & detours set up everywhere. I vaguely remembered virtually ‘walking’ through a park to get to the city center. We saw a park past the construction & off we went.
It turns out we were about a city block from our hotel. After walking through the park, we ended up in a cute area that was closed to vehicle traffic. Both sides of the street were lined with restaurants, hotels, cafes, and bars. We just had to figure out how to get to ours. Finally we found it: Latino Cafe. Latino Cafe in Reims, France. Makes sense.
This was our first experience with a room that did not have air conditioning. Since it was a sweltering 95 degrees outside, I knew this could get interesting. Our check in experience was okay…They spoke about as much English as we did French, so after a lot of pointing & head nodding, we found our way to Chambre Huit.
Our room was open to the street, and the view was excellent. Three flights up the narrow, steep stairs, less excellent. The room itself was no frills, but clean and had a funky little decor going on…I liked it! We were happy to be out of Paris and in this cute little town.
The views from our window…
We were both starving at this point, so we headed downstairs & decided to try the food right at our hotel. Delish!
After dinner, we walked around the city for a little bit to get acquainted with our surroundings. Lots of bars and people milling around, but we were so tired we went back to the room around 11 p.m. We left the windows open while sleeping & around 2 pm, the restaurant below up really cranked things up…I never heard them but Brian said they were having a whole lotta fun down there.
The next day, we got up and headed out for breakfast. We found an excellent breakfast spot & had the best coffee of our trip. The food wasn’t too shabby either:
After breakfast, we decided to head towards the tourism office to find out about the Tour de France. We figured they would know, and hoped that someone there would speak enough English to point us in the right direction. We were right!
The tourism office was right behind the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims. This was a huge cathedral that was once where France appointed their kings.
We walked around the Cathedral and took in some of its history. The intricate detailing truly took our breath away. Some of the statues were beginning to crumble due to age, and they were being redone by historians. An exhibit was set up in the church showing how this process was completed.
And Brian found a flat penny (or would that be euro?) machine for Chloe…well, sort of flat penny. More like a gold coin.
After touring the church, Brian decided to head back to the room for a few minutes so I could do some shopping. We decided to meet back in an hour, so we could start heading out for our 30 minute walk to the Tour de France stage finishing area.
I hit a few cute little shops, plus Monoprix. Basically this store was a French version of Target & had cute little inexpensive items. I was disappointed there was no Isaac Mizrahi for Monoprix line, but I did pick up a cute gray ballerina sweater!
After my little shopping excursion & Brian little nappy poo, we were off! Heading out of the Reims city center to the Tour de France stage finish!
What we encountered a long the way:
After all that walking, guess what we needed next: