On Monday we did a day trip to Troyes (pronounced ‘twah’ as in un deux trois) by train. 19 years ago this was our first stop when we took off in our little Renault Twingo from Paris. It is a very cute medieval town although arriving by train gave us a completely different perspective than navigating our way in with the car and finding parking. All I recall from the first trip was the cute old town centre, not the run down but more modern surrounding streets.
The train trip was great. I could sit on a gently swaying train cruising through the French countryside for ages. The trees were bare, the fields very green and the villages sparsely scattered.
Troyes is the historical capital of the Champagne district and coincidentally or not, shaped like a champagne cork!
The guy that we met on the train gave us lots of information about Troyes as he had lived there while he studied. He showed us where to catch the bus to the discount shopping outlet for which Troyes is apparently renowned. It was also once a centre for clothing manufacturing.
He also mentioned one of the more recent bars that had opened that sold many champagnes by the glass. Actually he was quite horrified that we were going there for pleasure. As a uni student, a country town had not held much interest for him…
After we said goodbye to him we went to the tourism office who informed us that most shops, including the new bar, were closed on Monday in Troyes… Of course they would be… She also informed us that unless we had a car there was no hope of a champagne tour… a bit poor for the capital of Champagne! Thankfully I had checked that the shopping outlet would be open before we left Paris.
After we completed our 2 hour SIM card experience in the Orange store (Orange in France is Telstra on steroids with the twist of a language barrier!) we decided to tackle the discount shopping outlets first as they were a 20 minute bus ride out of town.
I think that I threw out about 50 Bonjours and maybe not so many Merci Au Revoirs… You are always greeted when you go into a shop, no matter how busy they are and you are always thanked and farewelled. It’s the farewell bit that gets me. I look for the sales assistant as I am leaving and they seem busy with a customer but when I am all out the door except for the last foot, I hear Merci, Au Revoir and have to nearly walk backwards to return it or feel guilty. Drives me nuts!
The shopping trip was well worth it as it turned out as I finally found winter coats on sale. I walked away snug as a bug in a down filled jacket with fur trimmed hood. Finally I looked like all of the other half frozen French rather than a fully frozen Aussie beacon in my burnt orange trench coat (which will forever remind me of le Plombier)… My purchase was even more timely as it started to drizzle after that and my new coat is waterproof!!
We returned to Troyes and walked the old streets stirring up old memories. The old town centre is full of winding streets, lined with half timbered buildings.
Our favourite street is Ruelle des Chats, which is purportedly so named because the buildings are so close together at the top that cats can leap from one building to another! We loved that little fact on our first visit and had to find the street again.
We even stumbled across the same tea house that I had visited last time. I now have a photo of me sitting outside it from each trip (19 years apart)!
The return journey home was equally relaxing, if a bit late due to the Orange experience. Then we made matters worse by going off track when walking from Gare l’Est to our apartment. We missed by a Boulevard and a Rue or two and added a few kilometres at a time of night when we really didn’t want to…
We walked about 16km that day and finished off with the usual 119 stair climb and a 10pm dinner. Day 3 in Paris done!