Friday, August 17, 2007

The Champagne region

Anyway, as I mentioned below, I was in France this week. My first time ever. It was one of our usual two day whirlwind tours taking in (primarily) cathedrals and cemeteries. Here are a few observations:
  • I know there's a stereotype that French people are rude, etc., but I didn't find that other than in one place - Beauvais Airport {what a nightmare that place is}. Other than there, however, everyone I dealt with was extremely patient with this ignorant Yank, who did a lot of pointing and waving and/or mangling the French language beyond all recognition.

  • I knew that the 15th was a Holy Day of Obligation (Mass in the Cathedral), but I hadn't anticipated it being a national holiday too. Virtually nothing was open on Wednesday, but thankfully, we found a sufficient number of food outlets and activities to keep us going for the whole day.

  • Nobody lives in the Picardy and Champagne regions of France. I simply couldn't believe how empty the land is there. You can drive for miles without seeing much more than a few farms. It struck me that this part of France is much more sparsely populated than is Belgium, which isn't all that far away.

  • We went to Reims because it sounded interesting, but I actually would rather have had more time in Laon, a small city north of Reims, and spent less in Reims.

  • I almost never drink champagne, but when I saw it for less than €5 in the local supermarket, I figured I'd give it a go. And, it was tasty. I wish I could have brought home a few bottles, but of course you can't carry liquids on board a plane these days.