Day 2, 23 May 2013, Germigny to Dormans

We saw advertising for our hotel last night a few kilometers away and followed it to the hotel.  It advertised the hotel as “charmant”, which, translated means that they tack a few euros on to your bill.  However it was charming and served a superb meal.  We went well over budget.

The weather has been iffy, but we started the day in sunshine, with a tail wind.  We left the village through a beautiful avenue of trees providing access to some very nice houses on large wooded blocks, which explained how the village could afford an expensive restaurant.  Through the morning we rode through hill country away for the Marne River, before dropping back into the Marne valley.  It was cold, around 10C.

We are picking our route using our Michelin road atlas to select minor roads and then programming TomTom when we need to.  We only get into trouble when we think we don’t need TomTom.  The issue here is riding on the maze of smaller country roads which requires significant navigation.

We realized when we arrived back in the Marne valley that we were in Champagne country.  We had no idea of exactly where champagne is made. We rode through one village and there where sign posts to a tourist champagne route, so we followed it.  We dropped in on one of the many vignerons advertising along this route, and the owner spent an hour with us passionately explaining how he made champagne, and showing his setup.  He knew he had no chance of a sale, and we were very appreciative of his time.

This is very pretty country, rolling hills, vineyards with occasional fields of bright yellow canola.

There are a lot of villages in this champagne area, and the striking thing his how hollowed out they are.  We rode through many sizable villages, with not a single open shop in the main street, not a café, shop, bank, pub or even hairdresser.  And yet this is an area that has probably been pretty immune to the recession.  Even though there is clearly a lot of activity related to the champagne industry the tourist infrastructure we would expect to support it is absent.

 We had a few issues in the afternoon.  We solved a problem with Roz’ bike, made another navigational mistake, and had a few problems finding accommodation.  We finished the day caught, at last, in a hail show and then very cold rain.  The temperature on the bike computer was 4C, so we were well and truly chilled when we rolled into Dolman.  We found a hotel here quickly, and then went out for a burger and chips for dinner.  We didn’t exactly choose the burger and chips, but that appeared to be the pick of the available choices, which only goes to show what I was saying about tourist infrastructure in the area.  Unusually, the burger joint sold "Belgian burgers" and champagne was on the menu, something we had not struck before.

We have spent well below what we would normally expect to spend today, which makes up somewhat for yesterday.  Our policy is to pay what we have to and not to sweat it over an unusually expensive day.  It tends to work out.

 93 Km for the day.

 Tomorrow we continue to head eastwards towards our next main destination of Mainz in Germany.

 No WiFi tonight, so this will be posted a bit late.

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