TROYES

Everywhere we travel now we are often confronted by huge harvesters, tractors and other sorts of farm machinery on the roads and in the paddocks. All the wheat on the farms look to be ready and everywhere you look you see the big rolls of chaff left after the wheat has been cut off waiting to be collected up. I just love the look of them in the paddocks. It is obviously an incredibly busy time for farmers as they harvest their crops. The wine growers are also about 3 weeks ahead of time due to the very hot summer they have had this year so grapes will be getting picked early too. Some of the harvesters we see look like something from out of war of the worlds to me.

We have been told that Troyes is a nice town and there is a large carpark handy so we will get another big town fix. The main area is a mix of old and new and the cathederal away from the square is very ornate with detailed cornices, statues and beautiful colourful stained glass windows. Even though we have seen heaps and they are in every village, town and city somehow we are drawn to them but more for their beauty rather than the faith. In a hot busy town they are a cool and quiet haven for 10 minutes or so.

We head back to the main square check out the info centre to save walking trying to find the main sites. There is not really anything as a must see but Vicki has seen that there is meant to be a cat street so of course she wants to play cat mother. However we are told that the Rue Des Chat is not a cat haven but a street that slowly had the buildings fall together which has enabled the cat population to jump between the houses for centuries. Looking at all the bird feathers I am sure that it also lets them catch a few fat roosting pigeons! Talking of pigeons & doves there doesnt seem to be hardly any around in France that we have seen in nearly every place in Europe. We have a cold drink in a quiet bar, check out a few souvenir shops then head back to the van. Troyes does have a lovely feel to it and we are glad we stopped.

Vicki has picked out a free aire in a little village so we pull in about 5ish. There are a couple of vans already there but also a few kids on their 2 strokes and cars, and while we are there a few more turn up being the school holidays. We spy a kebab shop so decide to have an early tea but by the time it is ready the area next to us is full of teenages and a bit older,  noisy with doof doof music, screams of bikes & cars so we say bugger this they will be at it all night so find another aire which unfortunately costs but at least it will be quiet as it is on a farm area, lots of room and a shower and electricity for coffee in the morning. After a nice quiet night sleep we head off  towards Fontainebleau.

CHAMPAGNE REGION

We leave Paris camp ground and head back to the Champagne region. We just didnt get time to see anything there and after all the wine we have tasted and drunk, we cannot leave without having some of the worlds famous bubbly.

Our first nights stop is located at a small winery called Jaques Chopin in Venteuill, a very small village with a hand full of wineries. Its Sunday and they were supposed to be open until 3pm but when we arrive at 1pm they are closed. Damn shame as we were looking forward to having some champagne. They only take a handful of campers so we took a spot and stayed the night.

In the morning i went in to pay as they normally charge for electricity and a shower and toilet (that were locked though) but the fellow didnt want any money. He convinced me that i should have a champagne tasting at 10am and since i wasnt driving i agreed. We learnt so much about champagne it is quite amazing.

I thought it was just the name that caused it to be so expensive but how wrong was i. All wine growers in the champagne region are governed by an authority body that regulate the industry. They can grow as many grapes as they like but each winery is given the amount they are allowed to pick each season. The grapes are not allowed to be watered/irrigated or sprayed during their growing period, they must remain natural. The vines must be pruned a particular way and anyone doing so must have completed the certified course. When the grapes are to be picked the authority tests that they have the correct sugar amount for the type of grape and give the go ahead to the winery. The pickers also have to have done a certified course and they must be picked by hand in a certain way. They must press the grape in the allowed way. The bottle they put them into must be a certain weight and have a certain glass thickness which is why they all look alike. Some do 3 pressings of the grapes, the first is what they use, the 2nd is in case they do not have the required amount or to bring the sugar content of the 1st pressing up and the 3rd pressing they use for any apperitifs they might make later. They often keep aside a reserve of extra wine in case one season has a huge failure and they can use their reserve stock. Also champagne is aged much longer than any wine is so it isnt available for many years.

Now when i buy champagne i will appreciate that so much extra effort has gone into making it what it is. Unfortunately these small wineries do not have the means to export so the only champagne we get is from the huge wineries and it isnt necessarily the best either. The champagne we tasted here was devine. The grapes can be different in the  many champagnes and we learn what some of them are. We thought the price was very reasonable at €15 a bottle so buy 2 that are lovely. Actually much better than my palate thinks of Moet and the others we have in Aus which this wine maker tells us are really thought of as rubbish in France, but for their marketing and hugeness plus ability to export we probably wouldnt buy it.

We took off for Epernay after our champagne lesson as i did want to go to the Moet and Chandon house. I was going to book us in for the tour and tasting there but at 24euro each i am glad i didnt when i can get tastings for free at the smaller wineries which i enjoyed far more. We still had to go to Moet and Chandon though as they are also the makers of Dom Perignon which would have to be one of the finest champagnes in France. I tasted Dom when i got engaged as a 23 year old and my memory tells me it was the most devine thing that i have ever had in the vein of alcohol. In fact i hummed and haaed over buying a bottle in Epernay but at €140 a bottle, i wondered if  having another bottle would spoil the memory of that candyfloss style bubbles that i had so long ago, so restrained myself and we moved on.

Epernay was not very big and not a very interesting place to be so after leaving Moet and a quick walk around the town we left. The parking aire was not a desirable place to be either and it was really hot and we needed to have windows open all night to cool down.

We drove up into the hillside wineries to a place we had been told about called Mutigny. There were only us and another GB couple there and we had a wonderful view over all the surrounding vineyards.

After a hot night, the next morning wasnt much different, we walked around the few streets around us to check out another local champagne tasting place. We found most were closed but a local village town hall was open. They did charge for their tastings but when one of the ladies heard we had travelled to her home country of Croatia, she opened a bottle of pink champagne and sat with us and shared it as we told stories of our travels there. What a lovely couple of hours we had there chatting to them.

We then headed away from Montigny and down towards Troyes. On our way we passed the huge processing plant of Moet and their glass houses of wine vats. An amazing sight, it was massive. It was mid afternoon by this stage so decided not to go too far as it was still a scorcher and we couldnt keep windows open if we went to Troyes that night. We stopped at another winery with another Spanish couple. We all had our togs on and were going to the tap on a frequent basis to hose ourselves down. Unfortunately the owner of the winery wasnt a very pleasant lady and strangely made us not feel very welcome. I think she hated the idea that our French wasnt fantastic. Also she wouldnt do any tastings if we werent going to buy 6 bottles. I didnt know the words for ‘what if i dont like your champagne and dont want to buy any after tasting them’??? Stupid woman. Im sure she wouldnt have sold very much to campers stopping in her aire with that attitude. I always wonder at people like that, not understanding why they encourage people to stay at their place if they dont actually like people very much.

BASTILLE DAY, PARIS

We leave Verdun and head towards Paris where we will be for Bastille Day and we look for an aire closer to make the trip better. We settle for Chateaux Thierry which we find after debating going back a bit as we need fuel. We have been a bit slack about filling up as we put a deisel injecter cleaner in the fuel and want to run it down before we refill with premium deisel. We decide to risk finding it tomorrow than drive back 25kms to the Total we know is there. The aire is ok but backs onto Maccas so there is the noise of orders and with the school holidays boy racers on their noisy 2 strokes till around 11pm. We pay the fee but not for power as it is for 12 hours only which means no coffee in the morning. We put the power on next morning so we can have Nespresso – $2.50 well spent.

We head off towards Paris and happy days see a servo so fill up so risk averted. It is like a golden rule to fill up when under half as fuel runs out real quick and, murphys law, we will not find servos. We cant afford to run out as apparantley you have to get the vans computer rebooted plus the many card machines wont take foreign cards. We work our way towards Paris on the motorway with traffic getting heavier by the mile. The van is still smoking and running sluggish so hope the cleaner and premium deisel will kick in. We are a bit worried because as you get closer to Paris the pollution laws kick in but luckily our campground in outside the area. We pass a refugee tent camp just off the motorway and it looks like what you see on tv in africa with plastic and makeshift tents and rubbish everywhere. So close to the best city in the world and the government cant stop it so sad.  After winding through a myriad of streets and lanes we find the camping ground, settle in, have lunch and pack everything for our three days in gay paree. The bus comes right to the door every 15 minutes takes us to the train station we get an overground to another station then the underground to our stop a short walk to our hotel. We are instantly hit with the noise, drama and exitement of downtown Paris which where we are has a huge asian look about it which we dont remember from 8 years ago even though we are in the same area. Maybe we just didnt notice it then but lots of japanese restaraunts especially.

We find our hotel which is central to the louvre and all the areas we want to see. We have a rail ticket for two of the three days so can travel on trains and buses if we want. Our room is fantastic for the type of hotel (or is it the fact we live in a camper?) with a large bed-firm- and great (but very tiny)shower. No view but who cares we have luxury, a real bed and a shower that is not a facecloth! We have a short rest, I have a refreshing beer and we set off to Sacre Coeur and the Montmatre area as this is close enough for a late afternoon walk. Vicki has an uncanny knack for direction and can remember areas from last time we were here but I have no idea and just go with the flow and we walk the mainly uphill journey to where the Sacre Coeur sits on top of a high hill. This is where I proposed to Vicki so it has a special place in our hearts. The climb is quite long but we are rewarded by the sight of this beautiful church and the not so beautiful sight of the 294 steps to get to it. It is really packed with tourists both just sitting around revelling in the wonderful views of Paris and lining up to get into the church via security. We opt to bypass the church for the moment and head to the Montmatre market and art area which has a cultural and quirky feel to it. We look around as Vicki missed out on getting a painting as a souvenir last time but it seems to have changed a bit and less local and meaningful work and geared more to tbe quick buck portraits and crap sketches. A lot more of the artists are of Asian descent and it seems to me that a lot of the paintings everywhere are not painted here but are the same as what we see everywhere where the style is so Thailand/Indonesian mass produced with a French theme. How different from last time and very disapointing though the atmosphere is still here but nothing to what it was like when it was the bohemium enclave of painters an artisans that made this area so marvellous. Vicki bought a neat french t shirt which is at least printed in france and we head to the Irish bar for a drink-Guiness for me wine for Vicki as a reward for the 294 steps! Then it was back down the stairs and off to find a pizza place which we find and have a yummy pizza and carafe of red. Then its the quiet meander mainly downhill back to the hotel basking in the Parisness of this amazing place.

Bastille day next morning so we are up early (as it turns out not early enough), have our croissant and cafe breakfast and head out. Paris have a military parade on at 10.30am and we know it will be crazy and the security tight. What we hadnt anticipated was the approx half a million people all trying to get there as well and the fact that the security was so tight, they had blocked off all streets within about 1km of tbe champs elysee and made all spectators walk about an extra 3km around the outside of the no go zone. They only allowed us to enter at a couple of points. By the time we got there, there wasnt a hope in hell of seeing anything as the crowd was at least 10-15 deep and some points impassible and it seemed we should have got up at 6am to get there early. So we stopped on a side street where we could get a glimpse of the passing parade and lucky for us all the horses came and waited down our street to join the end of the parade. We also saw about the 60 odd aircraft flying over which was cool. It wasnt quite what we had hoped to see but we were there. It was almost as if more people than normal had come out in solidarity taking a stand saying we wont be fearful of attending these events.

The parade finished about midday and we headed away which was a long trek, but stopped for coffee on the way. We found a metro station that was open and took it to the Louvre which isnt far from our hotel. The Louvre is free on Bastille day and i had read that it doesnt get as busy as you think so we checked out the line for about half a second and decided the 2 hour wait wasnt worth it. We sat and enjoyed the sun in the Tuilleries along with hundreds of others before going back to the hotel for a rest for an hour or so.

We headed out early to the concert and fireworks that were on at the Eiffel Tower. The concert started at 9pm and the fireworks at 11pm. We walked to the metro and took it to a nearby station but discovered there was also a massive exclusion zone around the Eiffel tower and we had about another 3km walk to get to the concert. The security was really quite unbelievable. You could not have snuck in anywhere. If you lived in the exclusion zone you had to show paperwork and photo id to get in and no cars were allowed. We had bag checks at one point and then to get into the concert we had another bag check. We had 2 water bottles which they wouldnt let us in with unless we threw the tops away. So you could take any topless bottle in which we thought was hilarious. We watched those who knew and they pocketed their tops well before security so it wasnt a problem. We decided to sit outside the concert area where the view was acceptable of the tower. Since we were early we had to wait 3 hours for the fireworks. Not so bad if you were maybe having a few drinks, however they had maybe 12 toilets for the half a million spectators – something France does incredibly badly and so the queue was about an hour wait. Scot even had trouble finding a bush with the thousands of soldiers and police patrolling as he didnt want to be in trouble. I just didnt drink as it wasnt worth the hassle. At no time did we feel unsafe there and the police and soldiers were watching everyone closely, occassionally pulling someone up and searching their bag and body. They were ready for anything but thankfully it was an uneventful night for them.

Although our view was limited a little, the 35minutes of fireworks are the most spectacular we have ever seen. The view from the gardens across the Seine would have been awesome but they had reserved that for vips. It was worth the trip but i wouldnt do it again. We then had to walk back to our hotel as the metro would have been so full it also wasnt worth the hassle there either. Our hour + walk was tough after maybe already walking 15 or more kms that day. It was lovely to finally see Paris by night – a first for us both. I had wondered about walking back to our hotel at that hour but we were joined by hundreds of thousands of other revellers so i think it was only the last 100m we walked in almost solitude. It was about 7km back and my body and legs were killing me. I dont know the last time i walked nearly 25kms in a day.

The next day we had a slight sleep in and after breakfast packed our bags, left them at reception and did the walk up the Tuilleries. We continued on up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. The big thing here now is to hire a Lambourgini or Ferrari for a drive around Paris. I have no idea of the cost but there were those signing up. The latest scam is the Romanian beggars getting you to sign a petition and giving over money to them to help some cause or other which was obviously pocketed. We didnt get approached but saw people telling some who were, not to do it. We walked around a bit more and eventually went back to the hotel, picked up our bags and headed back on the metro, train and bus to the campground and Morrie.

We love the atmosphere in Paris and it was nice to be back for a short stay.

VERDUN

We leave quite early as not much to hang around for and it is not the most pleasant outlook and head towards Verdun. This is one place I have always wanted to visit & experience but not for the enjoyment. Verdun was the area of the greatest battle the world has ever seen in the later years of WW1(1916). It lasted for 10 months and killed, wounded or lost more than a million from mainly France & Germany and other countries. It was so bloody and horrible that it truly defies logic but by that stage of the war all common sense was gone and it was like they did not know how to stop. For example in the first 6 days over 2 million shells were fired.

We first visited the memorial Douaumont Ossuary in the forest above the city. This was finished in 1932 and was built to home the bones of the 130,000 men never identified. These are housed under the building and can be seen through tiny windows and is quite chilling. The grounds before the monument has the graves and crosses of the 15000 identified soldiers and is very sad. At one point a tourist lady was ranting on the phone to someone and in the silence for reflection was very disrespectful and I glared and gestured to her husband but thankfully she moved away. We then went into the building itself and the two long wings has all the names of the dead, so many born in the 1880 & 1890s only boys some as young as 15 when they died. I couldn’t help but think of my kids born on 1985 and 1990 a century apart and hope to hell it never happens again.

We paid admission and watched a film on the longest battle of the war and it was very sobering though educational as well. The battle lasted for 300 days and 300 nights. It was then up the tower to a small museum and sweeping views of the surrounding countrside and graves which from up here gives a better scale of buriel ground.  We then travelled towards our next stop which was the Douaumont Fort a huge fort built into & under the hillside, heavily fortified with a big gun that rose out of the turret to fire at the enemy sometimes miles away as well as steel machine gun pods . It was built by the french, taken over by the germans then back by the french towards the end of the war. Again it is impossible to describe the conditions they would have lived in but it was like an underground city with all amenities. We walked all around the different levels inside as well as the big gun turret that gives you an idea of the size of the bloody thing, the kitchens, sleeping areas, toilets etc. Though now empty you get an idea of what it was like but now it is very dank and wet with water dripping and the beginnings of stalagtites from the constantly dripping water through the limestone. As fascinating that it is, like the KGB headquaters in Lithiuania it is very depressing and you can feel the bad energy not surprising when you take into account the hundreds plus who died here. At one point 60 odd germans died in one area when a bomb hit. The memorial room is still there. We saw all we wanted to see and Vicki was starting to feel ill as the whole atmosphere is very disturbing.

Back outside gratefully but its cold and wet so we head off but stop just outside on the road and look at the original communication trench that runs for miles. Just inside the forest are concrete bunkers all collapsed, from the war bombardment or time we are not sure. The landscape is weird as though there is now a full forest the ground is very ‘lumpy’ as this was absolutly shelled to smithereens for hundreds of miles and would have looked like the moon barren and lifeless, mud and waterfilled craters now overgrown with new trees and undergrowth. God only knows what still lies beneath.

We find the aire in Verdun which is near the bus terminal which has room for 5 campers but we are the 6th but park up anyway. We bike into town which is a pretty one and has a quite wide river and a lovely feel about it. Verdun would be a nice place to spend a day but tbere are hopefully better places down the track and we are concious that we dont have a lot of time left here in france. Verdun has what I think is the best war memorial I have seen in a town. Quite large with double stairs going quite a way up adorned with stone sculptures. I cant resist so run up the 50 odd stairs and rewarded with a sweeping view of the town and river. We dont want to spend any more money today so resist the urge to have a drink (easier for Vicki than me) and head back to the van. I would have liked to have visited the museum but no time and feel I have seen enough war today.

METZ

We left Pont a Mousson and headed to Metz. Pronounced ‘Mess’ it is quite close to the German border and is a city with a huge cathederal with the largest expanse of stained glass windows in the world and I think the 3rd largest in France. Again as much as cities can be a busy hassle it is often worth it for the buildings. We find the free aire in a municiple carpark next to a caravan park. This costs around 40 euro a night so we opt for free though carparks do bother us and this has its fair share of long term caravans probably gypsies. The aire only holds 5 campers and it will be full by late afternoon.

We head off into town, about a 20 minute walk and it is still hot as as we meander down along the river. There is a beautiful church on an island that is very old and flowers adorn the many bridges making everything very pretty and colourful. We first find the info centre after walking around the cathederal which is bloody huge and has amazing ornate features. We find we have missed any free concerts the night before like we had at Pont de Mousson, most places are having these for summer, but we will get a good look at Metz. We first take a look at the cathederal which is as cavernous and huge on the inside as out and the windows are absolutly amazing. My only gripe is that though they are restoring & cleaning the outside slowly the whole aura inside is let down by the grime and dirt covering the windows and taking away the light effect.

We head outside and wander around trying to follow the touristy highlights. For some reason there are heaps of foot patrols of soldiers in groups of 4 and police everywhere so not sure if this is normal security for Bastille day coming up. It is a little un-nerving as they hold their machine guns with their finger on the trigger in a ready to fire position. However it does make us feel more secure. We walk past a man on the street begging and though we tend to ignore them as there are to many to help this man does not look like your typical beggar and has a sign saying he is hungry so we buy him a sandwhich and he is very appreciative. Most want money but we feel better giving food. Scot contemplates giving him one  of his beers but he may be a recovering alcoholic so dont want to tempt him.  (Lol….Scot wrote this but I don’t think he wanted to part with one of his newly bought beers)

We find ourselves on the outer of the old town area by the river and the old 12th century walls and newer castle fort which we assume once protected the city. We have a coffee in a small bar then head home towards the large scenic park and river boat walk. It is very picturesque and we love that the french spend so much effort on gardens and cleanliness with mature trees everywhere.  We try to find a church we are told is the oldest church in France – goes back to about 600 or 700 century but the lady in the tourist bureau has given us wrong instructions and after a long walk we deem it to be too far away so give up the idea. We get back to the van have dinner and crash.

 

 

PONT A MOUSSON

It’s Friday morning and we leave Nancy.  It is still so hot and I for one will be glad to be away from the city to a quiet place we can have our windows open without worrying.  Today is the start of the French school holidays and as we drive north on the motorway, the traffic driving south is manic.  We have been told about this – everyone is leaving for their summer holiday and doing so a little early.  Every 2nd car is loaded to the hilt with luggage, kids and bikes and are in the huge backlog of traffic thankfully going a different way to us.

We need to find a laundry which has been a little difficult this time.  We are going to stop only a short way between Nancy and Metz to have a break from the tourist thing.  I have found a place called Pont a Mousson where there is an aire on a marina again with all included in the price for 9.50euro a night.  Not bad.  We find a Laundromat and get the washing done.  These little Laundromats are located with a supermarket and they consist of a small shell with a large washing machine, a small one and one dryer.  A lot of people use them to wash their large doonahs as the large machine takes 18kilos.  Unfortunately I just beat another lady to the large machine and she is pissed off, but hey that’s life and my whole weeks wash has to be done, not just a blanket!

We head to the marina which I am aware is very popular and will fill quickly so we hope there is still parks available.  We are in luck and settle in.  Canal boats stop here and it seems to be popular with them too.  An English lady who chats as she passes tells us that even the washing machine and dryer are free here, so great value for money with showers and all (except we just paid to do our washing down the road). In the Moselle river which the marina feeds off there are lots of swans and nearby mother ducks with the ducklings which are just gorgeous.  There are swans by the marina walkway nesting and she is sitting on eggs that should soon hatch.  Shame we won’t be here to see them.

Saturday night we found out there was a concert on in the local market square so we went for an hour to listen to the music.  It was quite good and they had a really good crowd gathered.  It was standing only unless you got there really early to get a seat.  Why is it that being so short, every man and his tall dog seem to want to come and stand in front of me so that I can’t see a thing.  It happens all the time and I can’t figure it out.  I am feeling like I must be so short I am becoming invisible to the average Jo blogs.  Scot said I need to look more intimidating, so am contemplating face piercing and tattooing to see if that works….Lol.

Anyway, this is where we are now.  We decided to have a break for the weekend and stay here since the heat is killing us and here it is safe and quiet to keep all windows open at night in the hope some cool air might come in. It has been 26+ every night and the forecast keeps telling us we will have a storm but never happens.  Tomorrow – Monday 10th July it will be cooler supposedly and we are heading up to Metz.  Our plan for this week is Metz, then Verdan and then closer to Paris – sticking the van in a campground for 3 nights and we have accommodation booked in Paris for 2 nights so we can help celebrate Bastille day there.  Our next posts will most likely be on/after next weekend.

 

NANCY

After leaving Haut Koenigsbourg castle we head down the long road away. We briefly stop at the bottom to get our bearings and decide where we will head for the night. We could stop where we are but time is a marching on and we want to get to Nancy in the Lorraine region. We decide we will head west on the highway to get through the Vosges Mountains and into Lorraine. The highway has a 6km tunnel and you pay the price to travel on it – 10euro for the privilege and Morrie does not need another hard grind over mountains it was bad enough up to the castle.

We decide to stop on the way to Nancy at Saint Die de Vosges, an ordinary town where the aire is about 5euro for the night but has free power. We now know why we pick and choose big towns as really unless there is something special they just aren’t worth the hassle. We find the way to the aire but there is a tiny bridge that is really difficult to fit over so go into the parking lot of the large swimming complex (wouldnt it be a nice swim but there are too many kids) to work out how to find another way across the river. A lady pokes her head in and asks if we are lost so we explain our situation and she tells us about a bridge up the road. Again we are blown away about the french helping tourists especially in dodgy areas as we find later when we pushbike to get supplies and  go through typical immigrant settled highrises.

We head away the next day so that we are in Nancy early as the aire at the port only takes a few vans and if you are late, you miss out. It turns out there are plenty of spots and this place is expensive. You pay for your spot, electricity, a shower, water etc but they know you dont have a lot of options here. A shower is again very welcome as the heat has turned into the mid to high 30s again. It is another stinker but we reluctantly set up shop and have lunch, unsurprisingly a baguette!

We then walk into the city and make our way to the main attraction the Stanislas Square and the surrounding area. What a cool square and all in light pinky sand coloured building and huge forecourt with a statue of Stan the Man in the middle. Not surprisingly it is stifling hot and we try to find the info place to get an understanding of what to see with tbe least effort. We consider taking the local tourist train (not a real one but a snazzy fibreglass one towing carriages which we see in all the tourist towns & cities a bit like a quaint sugarcane train) that in 45 minutes takes you around the tourist highlights. We quickly decide they are not airconned and would be too hot crammed in with other tourists so decide, cleverly on Vickis part, to just follow the same route as the train which will enable us to see the main sites. The popular parts are the bars and cafes where the cold drinks are but we need to do tourist penance and see the beautiful buildings and then have a couple of coldies in a tabac bar.

We then walk through to the large park and see they are setting up for a piano concert in the rotunda. A young girl is playing and she is really good. We find out that it starts at 5pm with the main man on at 8. We tottle off to the nearest shop and grab a couple of beers and crisps and head back. The chairs quickly fill up and we are entertained by 5 young kids playing Bach, Liszt and Beethoven and they are absolutly amazing we cant believe these maybe 12 to 15 year olds can play like this. We are totally gobsmacked and the last little lad played Liszt like he should be (and probably is) playing in the Royal French Synphony. I personally walk away with tears in my eyes feeling so humble and privilaged to be a human being. It doesnt take me long to think of all the kids with talent in our world that are shitheads and wasters due to our way of life and I realise there are oasis of beautiful kids out there.

We find out there is a light show on at 10.45 that night as that is when it is dark so head back to our home and have dinner then wander back to the square. We hang around till the show starts we are in the middle of Stanislas Square and the 3D CGI show is phenomenal and three sides of the square are illuminated with the most amazing colours and images for 30 minutes. We again sit with our jaws dropped as we witness a spectacular free show that the square is perfect for. This is on all month and though the aire is not cheap we are very satisfied we made the effort to see Nancy. We head home at 11.30pm, it is still 31c and we sit outside wondering how the hell are we going to sleep.

Here I will say that Scot falls asleep quite quickly.  We have our windows wide open and we are in the middle of a city – not a place I feel safe or comfortable in even though there are police surveillance and security men with dogs in the area. I don’t like to sleep when I know someone can easily climb in through our window and with the heat it is difficult to anyway.  I think I must doze off about 4am as I am so tired by that time and the van is still showing 27deg without a breeze.