Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday 12 February - Reims and Champagne

We took to TGV this morning from Gare de l'Est to Reims. The first ten minutes or so are on conventional tracks but the high speed part was quick and comfortable.

We took the bus out to St-Timothee and had a coffee in a bar close to Taitinger where we had, in effect, a private tour as we were the only ones for 1000.  It was in French but our delightful guide had spent some time in the USA so we had no problems . The introductory video was well done but the highlight, apart from the tasting, was the tour of the caves which have been dug in the chalk and run for several hundred kilometers under the city.
First World War graffiti carved by those who sheltered down here

We tasted three types of champagne

After Taitinger we were ready for lunch which Mary had arranged at "Au Plat du Jour" a good restaurant close by.  The house champagne was Martel which we were to visit in the afernoon so we decided on a bottle of red Saumur Champigny from the Loire valley.  We started with a plate of sliced dried meat and sausage and the ladies had a beef stew with four enormous pieces of meat (too much) while I had a very gigot de lapin (two rabbit legs) in a rich tomato sauce.  Dessert was greengage tart.

Martel was close by and we had an excellent tour in English which concentrated more in the method of champagne production.  Afterwards we sampled a champagne,made with black grapes, a rose and a vintage which had been oaked.  We preferred the first one.

A bus took us back into town where we visited the enormous cathedral which was very dark inside on this cloudy and rainy day.
A model of the front when it will have been fully restored

Marc Chagall window
We walked back to the station in the cold rain admiring the Reims trams with their bright and different colors.



The journey back was again in first class on the top deck of the first car.  This duplex train had monitors that showed the speeds whenever we were traveling above about 230 km/h. We traveled for much of the way above 310 km/h briefly touching the maximum allowed 320 km/h.(198.8 mph).

We arrived back at the Gare de l'Est a few seconds ahead of our scheduled time of 1801.  The metro would have been crowded so we decided to take the no. 30 bus which starts here.  There was no difficulty getting a seat and the journey to Villiers took about 30 minutes.  It is always an interesting one, along rue de Magenta with its formal wear shops then through the Pigalle and past the Moulin Rouge to the more sedate Batignolles.

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