From Cahors we drove up to Orleans. We drove part of the way on ‘A’ roads and part of the way (most of it really) on toll-free motorway. The rain had returned, so the driving (which we shared) was mostly stressful and hard work. The hotel, when we arrived at it was even harder work!
I’d booked the Comfort Hotel just south of the city thinking that it would be a convenient (if longish) walk into the city. And at a bargain price. The best things I can say about it is that the bed was comfortable and the receptionist spoke English.
Orleans was closed for the day!
We drove into the city (walking was impossible on the motorways and auto-routes that cross the river) and wondered around for an hour (avoiding trams and the odd car) before having coffee in one of the very few restaurants or bars to be open. This was situated right in front of the cathedral, which appeared to be the only place of interest to be open on a Sunday. Surprised?
The only place available to eat that night, unless we were prepared to drive back into the city (we weren’t) and risk restaurants being open, was a Buffalo Grill situated at the end of the trading estate that housed our hotel.
I had a bison burger, Sharon had a bison kebab (it was described more elaborately than that but it was … a kebab with bits of bison on it). Both were very tasty, and certainly better presented and cooked than the burger we’d been forced to choose in Cahors last night.
I don’t know if anyone reading this is familiar with French burgers, but you have to expect a little redness about the meat. Tonight’s and last night’s were no exception.
On Monday, we drove on to Reims. It was a roundabout way to Calais, but we’d liked the city each time we’d visited previously and Sharon had managed to find a non-chain hotel right in the middle of the city. It also gave us the chance to call in at Pithiviers (pretty much closed) and to try and see Fontainbleau (couldn’t get parked!) en route.
We conveniently parked in the huge car park situated under Place Drouet d’Erlon, the main street and stayed in the Hotel Le Crystal. This was another traditional ‘French’ hotel with slightly faded grandeur but with excellent facilities. Like the one in Cahors (and the one I will mention for our final night in Calais) it was clean, had comfortable beds, new, clean linen and staff that were helpful and patient (although they spoke English, they still gave me a chance to converse in pidgin-Sugden French).
Unlike the Comfort Hotel in Orleans, the advertised WiFi worked well and I was able to upload some of the photographs I had taken.
We did our usual walk around, checked out the easily accessible sights (cathedral mainly) and tried to choose a venue for our evening meal. Sadly, like Cahors, Reims has become a bit more ‘Blackpooly’ than it was the last time we visited – probably eight to ten years ago. The restaurants are not as traditional as we’d expected and many are simply drinking joints with plastic menu food. We found one that looked traditional ‘ish’ and to be fair the food here was splendid.
I asked for the Aperitif Gourmand as a starter and Carré d’Agneau as a main course. Both were superb (although the started was a little larger than I’d expected). The lamb was perfect – I’d been asked if I wanted it a’point, but declined, asking for saignant instead. Ratatouille and pommes dauphnoise accompanied this dish. Sharon had a fresh tuna salad which looked splendid and which she assures me, was splendid! We’d thought to have dessert elsewhere in the town, but everywhere just looked ‘plastic’.
We declined breakfast in the hope that we would find a boulangerie or cafe en route to Calais …