Onwards to Troyes – Here Comes the Snow

by Mar 1, 2019France, Winter Tour 2017-2018

I woke up early this morning to catch up on the Blog before we hit the road for Dijon. Despite the freezing temperatures Iggy is always snuggly warm in the morning.  All thanks to the fantastically good (and cheap!) gas blown air heating in Hymer motorhomes.  So on these cold dark mornings, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a peek outside as soon as I get up.  Just to see what the day has in store for me.  This is what greeted me at 5a.m. today in Troyes!  Snow! (N48.27479, E4.06789)

Hello December in the Grand Est!  Already it feels like we’ve been on the road forever. But today is, incredibly, only the sixth day since we drove out of Edinburgh on the first miles of our long journey south. Newcastle to Ijmuiden, Breda, Namur, Sedan and yesterday the beautiful half-timbered beauty of Troyes.

The snow was already threatening as we went to bed in Sedan on Wednseday night. Just the odd, solitary flake or two, pirouetting through the cutting, cold edge of the air. In the morning, as we set off for Thouars it was the same. The forecast promised snow. The sky, was full of snow. But it wasn’t quite ready to fall. Not quite…

We had woke up refreshed on Thursday morning after our lazy Wednesday in Sedan.  Refreshed and looking forward to getting out of Sedan!  No offense Sedan.  You are probably a lovely town really, and we would have adored you on a sunny day in June.  Just not a slate grey one in November!  Troyes had looked gorgeous on Google images.  All medieval half-timbered houses and Gothic churches.  We like that kind of stuff!  It was also a longer drive than we’ve been doing so far.  Three hours.  So we were keen to hit the road.  

The drive was easy and uneventful, and we had lots of time for our new favourite game of “Spot the best Roundabout.” We weren’t sure if the workers here were working on a better environment for the Boar, or actually working on the roads. Either way was fine with us.

Before Iggy, we mainly used the toll roads in France.  It seemed easier.  And safer too I guess.  I had visions of the non toll roads being packed with speeding hordes of hostile, gesticulating, crazy French drivers.  Terrifying me with  mad antics.  Swearing loudly as they screeched past our little Yaris with us shaking and a-quaking inside.  Like, you know?  In the South East of England?

Not so in France!  Like most fears this one was completely unfounded.  Main roads in France are generally quiet and of reasonable quality.  For sure they do take longer.  But that’s because they keep passing through the most adorable and picturesque French villages and countryside.  And all for free.  No contest really.

There’s also, as mentioned above, the wonderful French pastime of trying to be the Commune with the best roundabout. We don’t know if there’s actually competitions for these things, but so much effort goes in to them that I would be surprised if there wasn’t. 

I have half an idea to build an album of “Roundabouts of the World”, but of course, I’m mostly looking at maps and signposts and lost the plot Satnavs when we’re going round roundabouts. So I tend to miss a lot of them. Today’s drive was great for empty roads with “straight on” directions though, and I managed to bag a couple of great ones. 

Three hours of the usual oohing and aahing at passing scenery later we arrived in Troyes and headed straight to Carrefour Drive.  We were having a bit of a chore day and had already filled up with LPG for our heating at  Total in Sedan.  Some garages refuse to let motorhomes fill up with LPG.  This is mainly because some people refill cylinders that are not designed to use the LPG filling system.  This can, and has, caused explosions at fuel stations.  Understandably then some attendants are a little nervous!   Our Gaslow system is purpose built for the job though, and with the constant below freezing temperatures we were very thankful to fill up with no problems.

Next on the chore list was snowchains.  We’d heard you can buy them at French supermarkets and were keen to get some as soon as possible.  There was a really good selection, but unfortunately not in our size.  Never mind.  Next time!  Stocking up with far more than our fair share of French cakes we walked out into…

Here it Comes

You guessed it!  Snow!  The constantly threatening snow had arrived while we were dismally failing to get snowchains.  Though we had stocked up on antifreeze so not a complete loss!

Not too worried as the forecast wasn’t for anything likely to cause driving problems, we headed for our parking spot behind the sports centre. It was quite a walk into town, about 40 minutes, but the location was nice and quiet, with only the cars coming to and from the sports centre. Also the car park was massive, with more than enough room to accommodate a little motorhome or two.

Also, that dreaded feature of the long walk in, it was downhill all the way. Which meant, inevitably, it would be uphill all the way back. But all these things were forgotten in a flash as we reached the medieval heart of the town.

Now that’s pretty!

The town was everything we’d been led to expect from Google images.  And more!  It definitely gets a thumbs up from us. We happily wandered it’s beautiful centre for hours.  Soaking up the wonderful Gothic churches.  (If ever a church was Gothic it was a Troyes church.)  These dudes should audition for Gotham! (Sadly during the process of transferring material from our old website to this one a lot of images were lost – including almost all the ones from Troyes. But it’s basically lots and lots of this. Fi. x)

The fading splendour of gorgeously coloured 16th Century houses.  Made all the more wonderful by how lived in everything was.  This was no “show town” like the overpriced resort of Honfleur on the Atlantic coast.  Here some of the houses were a little, well, shabby.  This place was lived in.  I wondered what it was like to live here?  To be born and grow up in this medieval centre?  Surrounded by such history?  Such beauty?

The cold was getting colder, and our legs were getting number, and the thought of that long, long walk back up the hill was starting to prey on our minds. But I wanted to get one last shot of the Basilique in the dark before we left. We were sure it’s stained glass would look amazing at night.

I’m so glad I went back to see it in the dark.

And so, eventually, fingers frozen from gloveless picture taking, and legs worn out, we stumbled wearily back to the haven of our Iggy.
Past the Christmas trees, real and not so real. Past the pretty French shutters, drawn against the cold. Hands held and words used up. Apart from.
“I think it was this way wasn’t it?”
“It all looks different in the dark.”
“I recognise this bit. Not far now.”

And home. Not an apartment. Not a hotel. Home. Warmth.  Comfort.  Red wine and French cake.  And sleep not far behind.

Fi. x

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