Germany - France
June 2o24

 Verdun - Reims 26 June 2024
125 km /75 ml

I was on the road this morning by 8:30 am, fortified by my double dip of pain au chocolate and cafe au lait, which I needed because I headed immediately in to some long climbs as I pulled myself out of the Meuse valley and over some ridges.  That was the story for the morning, until I came to an upland plain.  All along those ridges was evidence of the fortifications that were built for the battle at Verdun, and the Maginot Line of fortifications which the French built after WW1 to defend against the Germans in the future.  Except that in 1940, the Germans just outflanked them by going through Luxembourg and Holland and taking them from the rear.  The ridges were clearly strategically important points.  He who holds the high ground gets to win the battle.

It was a long ride today, some of it along roads that were a bit busier than I liked, so I kept finding alternative quiet ways  to keep out of the way of the traffic.  Reims, like so many of the towns around here, has a beautiful cathedral, all medieval 12th and 14 century, which still dominate the towns and countryside. The communal effort and expense that went in to building these places must have eaten up a huge slice of the local GDP, all based on a very literal and strong faith.  I like the story that the stone masons took as much care and attention to the back of the stone they were dressing or carving, because even though it would not be seen by other humankind, it was still seen by God.  I think Reims has been extensively restored, the statues especailly, which were vandalised during the Revolution.   

Reims itself is the centre of the champagne industry, but I didn’t see any vineyards along the way.  So, where do all those grapes for champagne come from.  Bits of Reims are very classy, other bits pretty run down, and with a diverse population, including quite a few druggies and down and outs on the streets.  France is not all fromage, patisserie, champagne and cognac.  The main drag in Reims was packed last night, it was a balmy and very pleasant evening, which seems to have brought out the crowds who were in all the restaurants and spilling out on to the streets.

I would have camped again tonight, but the only campsite I could find was quite a way out of town and didn’t seem to have the necessary services for eating and drinking that I am not prepared to go without.  So I had an AirBandB, not the best, but adequate and most importantly somewhere I could store my bike.  The next few days as I wend my way home are going to be a mixture of bike and train, so that I can get home by the weekend and get myself ready to a little trip to the opera at Glyndebourne, a lovely place of music and English eccentricity, where all the women look like some version of Joyce Grenfell, and all the men seem as though the dinner suit they are wearing they have owned since they were an undergraduate at Oxford or Cambridge, and they all need a good haircut, and the nose hairs and ear hairs trimming.  There are some sights.  But, the opera will be sublime - it will be Handel’s Giulio Cesare - and the surroundings and gardens in the Sussex countryside stunning.  A real treat.


Berlin-Lutherstadt  :   Lutherstadt - Bernberg. :   Bernberg - Blankenberg  :  Blankenberg - Einbeck  :  Einbeck - Kassel  : 

Kassel - Kirchheim  :  Kirchheim - Marburg  :  Kirchheim - Limberg/Diez  :  Limberg/Diez - Mainz  :  Mainz - Koblenz  :

Koblenz - Krov  :  Krov - Remich  :  Remich - Verdun  Verdun : Verdun - Reims  :  Reims - Amiens  :  Amiens - Arras


We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details in the privacy policy and accept the service to view the translations.