Monday, 11 June 2012

News from Langres....

Langres is a delightful cathedral town which sits on top of a hill with enchanting views all round of France, even as far away as the distant Jura Mountains, the direction I am headed next. The only problem about Langres is the hill bit which is a bit of a killer such that, like the Grand Old Duke of York once you're up there, you stay there; anyway, all good training for what is to come.

Langres cathedral is beautiful, understated in a way that Reims was elaborate and fussy like an over embellished bauble; but there is much more to Langres - it was the hometown of the philosopher Denis Diderot and was frequented for a number of summers by the artist Raoul Dufy who, as you all know is of Scottish ancestry. The town has magnificent ramparts that were significantly restored/remodelled or just plain buggered about by military engineers in the 19th century which gives them a certain air of being more contrived than authentic, which they most certainly are.

Having been on the road for ten days, Langres was an important laundry stop and my room looks like Widow Twankey's wash house with kit festooned everywhere like a ship on the Thames Pageant. Needless to say I caught myself at breakfast yesterday morning and the scent was not for the sensitive of nostril...

521 miles in and Switzerland is on he horizon; I will cross the border on 21 June and reach the Grand Saint Bernard Pass on 29 June. I am very excited at the prospect of a new country and towering mountains - although I will be sad to leave the pretty Haute Marne.

So, it's the road to Besancon tomorrow, which I should reach by 16 June. Another pack of French maps has been backloaded and my bergen gets lighter by the day, deep joy.

Best surprise of the week was bumping into Jason Cook and Garry Burns while walking down the street last night; guardsmen and old friends who served with me in Hong Kong. Breakfast was late this morning...

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