15-18 July – Reims

So, England are out – even beaten by the Belgians – and it’s a France / Croatia World Cup final.  We decided to have lunch out and ate at Edgar’s located in The Forum.  We weren’t holding much hope of a decent meal but were both very pleasantly surprised by our meals.

By 3pm we were finished and decided to walk towards the Fontaine Sube.  As we get closer the crowds thicken and it’s clear there are several bars and cafes that will be showing the match.  Blue, white and red is being adorned on bodies and faces and we are soon in among the eager French supporters waiting for the game to start.  It was a great atmosphere but as it got busier people started to let off fireworks in the street. Bangers mainly, but some of them packed a punch.  We had the dogs with us and they were starting to get jumpy so, with still 2 hours to kick off, we headed back to the boat.

During the match, every time France scored the supporters roar of encouragement coming from just about every hotel, home and business around us was amazing and when the final whistle blew they took a to the streets – in their droves!!

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The halte nautique in Reims is next to an intersection of roads and every car that passed was sounding their horn, waving flags and kids out of their windows and carrying joy riders in their open boots.  It was a sight to see but nerve wracking watching some of the antics and after a few hours and few bangers being let off near the boat we were getting fed up with it.  In fairness by half past midnight it was pretty much over and normality was restored.

We’ve taken the opportunity of our stop here to get a few jobs done so Monday was a work day.  So was Tuesday morning but Tuesday afternoon we ticked a box on our ‘To Do’ list.  We visited Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin for a tour.

What a great experience!  The aging wine is kept in old chalk mines known as Crayères approximately 25meters below ground.  This area is pretty much built on chalk and there are over 1000 Crayères in Reims alone.  450 belong to the house of Veuve Cliquot and they alone store 40 million bottles of wine in 25kms of this cold, strange underground cave system.  Considering each bottle contains 7 million bubbles (apparently) it makes the mind boggle how many tiny bubbles sit beneath Reims – imagine if all the corks popped at once!!!!

One final lovely fact about the house of Veuve Clicquot, is that every employee who reaches 40 years service has one of the Crayères dedicated to him/her and a plaque is erected in their honour.

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Of course, the best bit of the tour was the tasting afterwards and we sat out in the garden of the visitors centre in the sunshine drinking 2008 vintage champagne for a very pleasant hour….perfik!!

Now today we await news of Frank’s bike being repaired and the redelivery of fenders ordered from the UK.  They didn’t deliver at first because the company we bought them from messed up the address – badly – and even though there is only one halte nautique in Reims the courier said he couldn’t find us. We’ve located the local parcel pick up place and the nice lady said she would call the man and get them delivered to her instead.  At 9.30 this morning she said she’d call me as soon as she’d spoken to him – it’s 2pm now. Oh well – C’est France!!

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