Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Au revoir Angleterre; Bienvenue à Grenoble!

So I've been in France a week already! We left Stoke-on-Trent early on the Monday 17th in order to get the train from Folkstone that afternoon and by 6pm local time I was having a beer in a cafe over looking a town square in Amiens, France!

We spent only the one night in Amiens before heading to Reims (2 nights), Chambord (1 night) and finally Lyon (2 nights) before arriving in the town I now call home!




Amiens is home to France's biggest cathedral and it was beautiful, and set in a stunning city too. We could see it from our hotel room and it was breathtaking to be able to see the love and devotion that went into building such a stunning place of worship. We pretty much checked in and then went off in search of a well needed beer and found a cafe bar which served Affligem rouge. Kind of a fruity beer but not as sweet as cider and not as strong as an ale. YUM! Now slightly tipsy we found somewhere to eat and had some more to drink and then staggered back to  the hotel to get an early night ready for a day of sightseeing in Amiens and then driving on to Reims.

Amiens Cathedral

















On our way, we decided that seeing as we were close to the Battle of the Somme sights, we would stop and have a look at one of the memorials. Having done a couple of battlefield tours with school a couple of years ago, I suggested stopping at Thiepval which is the largest memorial in the Commonwealth. Steve actually found the name of his granddad's brother carved into the memorial, which made the whole emotional experience even more touching and moving.
Thiepval Memorial
Thiepval Memorial

Nicholls, J.

















Once in Reims and checked into the apartment, we found the tourism office and booked some activities for the following day including a tour of the cellars at Mumm Champagne house which included a tasting session, and audio-guided tours around the cathedral and basilica, all for €16 each! The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the town a little and finding somewhere to eat and drink, and given that we were now in Champagne country, pretty much everything we ate or drank now contained Champagne!! We had an amazing meal at a fish restaurant and I tried snails (ticking that off my bucket list) which I quite enjoyed and can only liken them to squid, but blander and served with a lot of butter and garlic! Main course was a medley of fish fillets, all cooked perfectly, and the meal was rounded off with a Cassis Royale dessert which was blackcurrant sorbet and Champagne. Hic!

Up early the following morning to get to la Maison de Mumm for 9:30am. The promise of a glass of proper Champagne got me moving very early! (Maybe this should be used when trying to get me out of bed in England too!!) The tour was very interesting, and I learnt a lot about the process, history and the huge amount of time and care which goes into making each bottle of Champagne. I've bought a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut to celebrate with when I graduate. Roll on 2014! Food in the evening was about as French as a meal can get. Continuing on with the bucket list, I tried frog's legs which do, like everything, taste like chicken. This was followed by an amazing pot of mussels with mushrooms and Champagne ("Hi, my name's Lotte and I'm addicted to Champers!") all washed down with, yes you guessed it, a Champagne cocktail. I think my liver was pretty happy to have left Reims.


Outside la Maison de Mumm
A girl can dream!



10:30am. THIS IS THE LIFE! <3


A last miniute change in plans meant that instead of going to Dijon we would head a little more to the west of France, towards the Loire Valley and check out a Château. This turned out to be perhaps the best thing we decided on the whole trip purely for comedic value! The Château itself was beautiful and full of unique features and amazing artwork. The hotel we stayed in on the other hand was a typically quaint and charming French-looking hotel. On the inside, it was a mixture of "Allo Allo" and "Fawlty Towers"! BRILLIANT! The person who greeted us on reception looked like "Ros" from "Monsters Inc." and none  of the staff spoke any English. I knew we were deep in the country when I didn't understand half the menu, although I think that this is acceptable when the waitress couldn't explain what anything was. "Its a native animal to this region that runs around wild in the forests." That could have been anything from a squirrel to a deer. Thanks to wordreference.com I worked out it was the latter. The evening was spent laughing a LOT about Steve forgetting to take his p.j shorts off before putting his trousers on (LOL!) and the fact that Mum and Steve didn't just not have hot water, but no water at all. I think it's safe to say, we weren't too sorry to leave in the morning and head to Lyon. 
Me and Mum outside Château de Chambord

Lyon: Oh how I love thee!! It was like going home after a 2 year holiday. I got to show Mum and Steve one of my most favourite views in the world, take them to some of the places I ate at and introduce them to one of my very best friends who I haven't seen since leaving Lyon in 2010. The hotel was pretty much in the city centre which was a nice change from being 20 minutes out the last time I was there and being on the 37th floor was also a bonus as I got to watch the sun set over a city which has captured a piece of my heart. <3. We took the tram up to Fouvière and the view is still as breathtaking, perhaps even more so as I had missed it so much. And thanks to Mum and Steve I explored the Basilica a little more too and we discovered the church which is under the Basilica. Stunning architecture yet again. I had arranged to meet up with Mina in the evening to go to a friend of hers' birthday party which as parties go wasn't amazing but it was fun meeting new people and having very random conversations, rejecting French men and getting slowly drunk. We planned on getting the last tram home at about midnight so naturally at 1:30 we were using the city's equivalent to "Boris Bikes" and cycling home. SUCH A LAUGH! I was up early the following morning for the last leg of the trip to my new home.

So. Grenoble. I don't think I could be living in a more spectacular place. Whilst the views in Lyon were awesome from the top of a hill, the views from the bottom of the Alps isn't half bad either. Feeling truly blessed to be able to wake up, throw open my window and see the Alps. For the first time in my life I'm looking forward to it snowing, and I'm hoping for lots of it!! Roll on the ski season! I'm just as excited as starting work and after meeting up with a couple of guys last night (24th), I can't wait to meet some more at the training days we have on Monday and Tuesday, although the lack of definite details and an itinerary is making stress a little. The next blog will come next weekend after my first week here working. Eeeeee!!!

I was going to add some extra pictures of Lyon and Grenoble, but it won't let me. There are plenty on fb, check 'em out! xxx

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