R, Angela and I left the hustle and bustle of Paris on Wednesday morning, to head deep into the French countryside. For my part, I couldn’t wait to get out of Parisian traffic. I honestly don’t know why manual cars are so popular in Europe. Isn’t it tiring to have to constantly play with the clutch in stop and go traffic?
I love the tranquility of the quiet, meandering country roads. We passed by lush fields of just blossoming yellow canola flowers, tiny little villages that have withstood centuries of change. Most of these villages had only a small church and no stores, not even a bakery, so the streets were often empty and devoid of any signs of life.
In Champagne, we drove through several villages, the largest being Reims and Epernay, and dozens of smaller clusters of houses like in Ambonnay and Cramant, Grand Cru villages that houses many of the region’s Champagne producers. Surrounding the villages were sprawling hills of vineyards. The vines in Champagne are all stunted, about half the height of similar Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines elsewhere that I’ve seen.
In Normandy, we drove along the famed cider route, stopping by Calvados Dupont, one of the hundreds of cider and calvados (brandy) producers in the region, to sample their cider and admire their apple orchards.
I quite enjoyed driving in the country. We put in quite a bit of miles – 1,400, easily busting our measly 1,000 car rental limit. For all the ribs I like to give R on her navigation skills (we usually get so caught up in conversation that we forget to pay attention to where we’re going), R was indispensable as our navigator. She had all the directions and addresses neatly printed out beforehand, and diligently mapped out our route every morning after breakfast. Angela and I didn’t have to lift a finger, but follow along obediently. 🙂
Map of our road trip: