Can you imagine going past seemingly hundreds of cellar door champagne outlets and not sampling even one of them? Yes? You must be a bloke, because I can’t remember meeting a woman who didn’t drink champagne.
Me, I would have loved to have sampled any number of the many, many types on offer along the Champagne Route, a tourist drive just outside Paris. But I was riding a borrowed motorcycle on the wrong side of the road, so it was No Champagne for Me (with apologies to Sienfeld’s Soup Nazi).
Never mind, it was a great ride. Peter from Yamaha recommended it when I told him I had a few days in Paris with a bike, and it sounded as good as anything else I heard of, so off I went.
I only got a little lost leaving Paris – navigation is difficult when all the signs are in a foreign language (can’t imagine how hard it would be in a country which doesn’t at least use Roman script – I’ve been flying Etihad and Arabic is completely indecipherable).
Anyway, back to the champagne: which is actually a region, not a grape or drink, which is why you can’t buy Australian champagne: there’s only one Champagne, and it’s in France. Anything else is sparkling crap, or at least that’s what the French want you to believe. To reinforce that, check the the price of a bottle of Dom Perignon: it should come with four pre-paid hookers and a taxi home it costs so much. I didn’t buy a bottle.
I would have loved to have done the cellar tour at Moet & Chandon, but I physically couldn’t: the blister caused by my boots when I did all the walking to get to Yamaha was giving my absolute hell. I did stop and bought some bandaids, which helped, but the fact it was VE day meant I’d gone nearly all the way to Moet’s cellar before I’d been able to buy any, and by that time walking was hell.
I probably looked like I’d copped a Boche bullet the way I was limping. And it was a small blister. Seriously, I needed a large can of harden the F&@! up…
Anyway, at least the blister didn’t hamper the riding. Awesome stuff around here: French roads are pretty good: there is the occasional bad one, but really they’re few and far between. And while the reputation for French arrogance is probably deserved – but I doubt it’s as bad these days, they seem used to tourists – they can seem to be a bit short and intolerant of anyone who doesn’t speak French.
Then again, they seem to be short with anyone, French speaking or not: I’m not convinced they really single out tourists (and your comments on this matter are welcome below).
Back to the Champagne Route. It’s a fun ride on a bike, lots of twists and turns, although nothing to get your knee down on – more a fun riding road than scratcher’s delight.
There are numerous little towns to pass through along the way, mostly picturesque ancient villages, although there’s some modern developments, which individually look fine, but when they build 100 in the same area, it’s as ugly as any new suburb in Australia, and does spoil the ambience a bit.
Which the French probably don’t give a rats’ arse about. Housing is expensive anywhere, and if building homogenous homes is a way to put a good roof over a lot of people relatively cheaply, upsetting the sensibilities of a Australian tourist isn’t likely to be a major consideration.
Having posted my last blog entry and then gotten lost getting out of town, I was running late, again. So I had lunch in Epernay about 3pm and decided to hit the freeway for the return journey.
A 130km/h limit is a seriously good idea. Flexible policing means 150-160 is the average for big bikes. It’s worth the constant tolls for these speeds…
So by the time I got back to Paris it was getting late. I had a good run back, having decided to stick to the ‘Paris’ signs until I really recognized some landmarks, which would give me the best chance of getting back to my hotel without getting lost en route.
This approach worked, but the landmark was Notre Dame… which is so close to a bunch of other landmarks I decided to stop and photograph them. I think I finally made it back to my hotel about 8pm.
Being VE Day, I assumed there would be some celebrations around the Eiffel Tower, so after a shower I was on the metro (underground trains) and over to have a look. At least by getting rid of the motorcycle boots I could walk again… But there were no celebrations. I hung around for a while and got chatting to a couple of amateur photographers from Germany and Columbia, but essentially the Tower was nothing more special than it usually is.
When the rain started to sprinkle, I decided it was time to find some dinner. But I went the wrong way and ended up in a quiet part of town, so with an aching foot and tired eyes I hit the metro, bought a pizza and took it back to my room and watched a podcast about making eBooks for the iPad. As I type this I’ve just ordered an iPad via WiFi from Abu Dhabi Airport from the apple Store in Australia.