Fra(i)ncia IV – Cold Champagne

Im sorry garçon, garçon..!

Reims (which the french pronounce as Raaaans) was not too far away, I wanted to go there and just get a stamp in the Cathedral, usually I dont like going into cities looking like a homeless person. I mean theres a lot of stuff and people but the anonymity of the whole place makes it feel cold more often than not.

I found my way rather easy and saw a chair out in a field that somebody dumped there and mannn did I wish I took a photo in that now that I mention it. I freestyled most of the way and ended up walking along (what French people) call a canal, in the Netherlands we call such a thing a ditch..I have a bigger waterway literally next to my old home. I guess you dont really need canals if you have rivers the size of my hometown and youre building on top of the ruins of Roman towns built on said riverbanks. Saw a couple of awesome graffiti tags along the way.

Got a stamp at the Cathedral although I had to wait until all the customers were served, which made them feel worse than me. I left my bag outside attached to Lucy so it required me to hop around a little as well. Then a security guard came and looked at me funny, just standard big city nonsense I guess. I tried to find some of the places that looked familiar but I couldnt really recognize anything. My goal for today was to just get the f*** out of the city unscathed and with a stamp, so part 1 of that was done and getting out of the city (when you have internet) is also a lot easier. 5 years ago I had to follow a book and I cant even begin to explain how tedious that is. As soon as youre off the road then youre basically fucked and not all the paths are marked in the correct way. Then theres paths crossing and cities in general just mean a lot of hassle and absolutely no progress. Kinda makes ya wonder about cities in general. I mean everything is there in terms of supplies and “places to go” (restaurants etc.) but what do you really need? I certainly didnt need the bullshit of all these people and cars especially. Or 1000 kebab places, I did eat a kebab though so that was nice. Some people did see my shell and wished me good fortune which was nice. All these people were old so theres not much hope for the future Im afraid. I walked just over Reims and wildcamped near a cemetery, as is tradition at this point.

The next day I woke up, found a bakery and left with a newfound fire. After a big part through a forest I could see Epernay in the distance. This is the Champagne Capitol of the world, and its like walking into a different country, streets are clean, road signs actually make sense, good traffic laws. Its like being in Italy and going into Monaco. People also speak English and I would sum the whole thing up in “You can just smell the money as soon as youre out of the forest.” Last time I got a stamp from famous brand Moët et Chandon, their most famous wine being Dom Pérignon. Cant really get a stamp in the same place now can I so I decided to get one from Perrier-Jouët since they had a very impressive building, they nowhere near compare to Moet & Chandon in terms of sales but its whatever. They werent that friendly at all and their doorbell sucked, you get transferred to reception and then after 15 seconds it cuts out. I just stalked some guy that left a guest out and he was happy to help. Champagne road is pretty impressive, white marble walkway/walls, gold fences and when it got dark they started projecting their logo’s on the sidewalk, cool feat I must say. 

I ate a nice sandwich and drank a tea in a restaurant, which wasnt as expensive as you might have think. Also worth mentioning is that I saw a lot of bars where they served Amstel. Dont sue me Amstel but I think your beer tastes like piss and its target audience is mostly poor people, apparently I was wrong however and its also served in the “Champagne capitol”. Does make ya wonder a little bit about these exquisite palletes these people have and I apparently lack? 

I went around town to look for somewhere to put up my tent, this was pretty hard I must admit and the temperature dropped pretty fast after the sun went away. At the end of the Rue de Champagne were fields by Mercier, vineyards crawled all over some rolling hills with some residential buildings at the end and I decided to just put it right in the smackdab middle. 
The next morning I noticed some camera’s but a lady was walking her dog as well, she didnt seem too surprised which I found a bit odd. I mean it must not be like somebody sleeps out in the middle of a fucking vineyard halfway through November but sure, Ill take it. I spent some time in the city and I noticed that I missed a helluva lot of sightseeing last time around due to the German guy, he wasnt exactly the wandering type but more the walking your ass off type.

Walked out of Epernay easy enough, along some road and I skipped a few good wildcamping spots because I wanted to make good time. 

I saw a cemetery at the end of some village on my maps and as Im crossing a side road to that village, I come by another cemetery. Im not too picky about my where I go for a rest, as long as I wake up I mean and this place was as good as any. 

As I was putting up my tent a nice lady gave me a bar of chocolate even though she was kind of spooked at first. This is why I like France, when people see you on your path they seem inclined to help you in whatever way they can. 

The next morning some nice people came to collect the garbage cans and spotted my tent. I greeted them and explained ‘my situation’ and the guy seemed to be indifferent but understanding and the lady was nice and smiled. Later the guy came back and brought me an apple that he picked somewhere, we talked a bit and I told him about nice people in France, he slightly disagreed but his actions were a testament to this. He told me his colleague had her doubts about me sleeping on a cemetery but he kind of understood that you needed water and some form of small shelter en seclusiveness to get through the journey. 
I had already packed my tent and continued onwards, soon I was going to hit one of my first milestone stops for the journey and thats visit a friend I met 5 years ago in Sézanne called Andy. We kept in touch for the last 5 years and I would say were likeminded spirits. 

I texted him during the day and he insisted that he come pick me up if the weather turned and well, since its almost fucking November..
After a long and comfortable stroll through a forest which was nice, but it didnt rank that well on the distance scale, I went by a little town that I saw on the map called Lucy, like my dog? Get it? DO YOU GET IT?

I drank my most expensive tea Ive had in my journey so far, 8 madafaking euro’s for 2 green tea.. Holy fucking shit, my budget of the day wasted on 2 lousy fucking hot beverages haha. Fuck you Cheval Blanc in Montmort Lucy! The white horse brings poverty? Didnt mention that shit in Revelations 6:8..
On the other hand, Andy called and told me he had time so I agreed with him to come pick me up and 10 minutes later a shiny, green Jaguar pulled up on the parking lot. It was very good to see him again after all these years and only talking on the phone. He was then and still is an English teacher of UK origin in France and lived in a medium, quaint town called Sézanne. Looking forward to chilling a bit with him while also making myself useful and giving me and Lucy some respite from the cold and the rain would prove invaluable. 

I said cold AF GARÇON

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