June 16-17, Châlons-en-Champagne -- Créancey

We had found last night’s camp at Châlons-en-Champagne with difficulty, we were tired and cranky when we arrived, and still disgruntled come morning, we were not unhappy to leave. This was to be a transit day and we could not find the energy to explore the town. Instead we headed directly south to Créancey staying mostly on main routes. Fortunately, most of the route whether on divided highway or two-lane road passed through landscapes painted with a multi-hued pallet of blue, lilac, yellow, green, white, purple (flax, poppy, wheat, barley, potato). The more hilly terrain was forested, and small villages, many with octagonal spires on the steeples of the churches could be impossibly quaint and picturesque, but we rarely stopped. Even so, it was late afternoon when we settled into a pleasant shaded campsite on the Lac Panthier reservoir near Créancey. Not having taken time to leave the main roads on our way down, Sheila picked a route of secondary and tertiary roads to explore the countryside around our campsite. As usual, I simply followed Sheila’s directions and was delighted when directed to park at Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, designated a Plus Beau Village. We arrived early, dry-stone walls lined the  lane leading to the town gate, we had arrived well before anything was open and we had the town to ourselves. The morning sun had taken the chill off the air, roses were in bloom, and the village felt intimate. Medieval stone and half-timbered buildings lined narrow streets and lanes, a château with its walls, moat and drawbridge, conical slate roofs topping cylindrical towers dominated the village. The château, one of the last remaining 14th  century Bergundian fortifications, was  undergoing restoration, and the village was a mix of 14th through 17th century wealthy merchants’ homes. Had we stumbled upon this gem at the beginning of our trip, we would have be totally blown away, as it was, we thoroughly enjoyed the stroll, the architecture, the ambiance, the roses, and the warmth of the early morning sun.  A place for a coffee and pastry would have been perfect. Leaving Châteauneuf, we followed narrow winding roads through an idyllic countryside of rolling fields and pastures. White Charolais cattle grazed in the pastures, giant rolls of golden, freshly bailed hay lay scattered across the rich green recently harvested fields and the hilltops provided vistas over a manicured, almost park-like landscape. We took time to make a short video driving through the small village of Barbirey-sur- Ouche, an unexceptional village by French standards but quaint and totally engaging by ours. We were running low on gas and began looking for a fuelling station. The map marked one at Saint-Seine-l'Abbaye on our route but it took us a while to even find the village. Sheila asked at the local tourist office about fuelling stations and restaurants. There was one of the former and two of the latter, a pizza shop  and a Michelin Green Guide recommended hotel restaurant. We filled the van and opted for the Green Guide recommended Hotel de la Poste. The Menu Terroire consisted of an entrée of Andouille sausage and potato on a pastry crust with mustard cream sauce; a plat of braised ox cheeks in red wine sauce with roast pomme, yellow wax beans, green lima beans accompanied by the house red; dessert of an assorted cheese plate of 5 local cheeses (3 superb 2 merely good) with an Irancy Pinot Noir, followed by an ice cream, coconut, raspberry roll and coffee. The dining room was old- school elegant with classical furniture, and white lace curtains. The deep wine coloured table cloths and carpet would perfectly match the colour of spilled red wine. The service was understated and excellent, the timing of courses well matched, fresh cutlery for each course, table swept of crumbs between courses. An excellent traditional meal, perhaps uninspired, but very well presented at about $75. After lunch, a drive through the Vallee de Ouche with its rolling grain fields, white Charolais cattle grazing lush green pasture, and small villages. The quaint village of Salmaise provided the opportunity for another video. Looking for a château atop the hill we had to leave the town, switch back and re-enter at a higher level. We came across a small roofed fountain and communal laundry pool. The well maintained, elegant structure no longer appeared to be used for laundry but looked as though it would make a gorgeous bathing pool. The château turned out to be private and so we headed back down hill, stopping to visit a cemetery marked with a Commonwealth Graves sign. Surprisingly, the cemetery was poorly maintained with many abandoned plots and held no Commonwealth graves. More rolling fields and forests and another Plus Beau Village hill village Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, another video, and back to camp. Sheila commented on regional differences in the Plus Beaux Villages. These were not nearly as grandiose as the ones we had visited in the Perigord region, but as compensation for their lack of gravitas, they were more intimate and we did not have to put up with endless tourist restaurants, snack bars, souvenir shops, and other tourists.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.

June 16-17, Châlons-en-

Champagne -- Créancey

We had found last night’s camp at Châlons-en- Champagne with difficulty, we were tired and cranky when we arrived, and still disgruntled come morning, we were not unhappy to leave. This was to be a transit day and we could not find the energy to explore the town. Instead we headed directly south to Créancey staying mostly on main routes. Fortunately, most of the route whether on divided highway or two- lane road passed through land- scapes painted with a multi-hued pallet of blue, lilac, yellow, green, white, purple (flax, poppy, wheat, barley, potato). The more hilly terrain was forested, and small vil- lages, many with octagonal spires on the steeples of the churches could be impossibly quaint and picturesque, but we rarely stopped. Even so, it was late afternoon when we settled into a pleasant shaded campsite on the Lac Panthier reservoir near Créancey. Not having taken time to leave the main roads on our way down, Sheila picked a route of sec- ondary and tertiary roads to explore the coun- tryside around our campsite. As usual, I simply followed Sheila’s directions and was delighted when directed to park at Châteauneuf-en- Auxois, designated a Plus Beau Village. We arrived early, dry-stone walls lined the  lane leading to the town gate, we had arrived well before anything was open and we had the town to ourselves. The morning sun had taken the chill off the air, roses were in bloom, and the village felt intimate. Medieval stone and half- timbered buildings lined narrow streets and lanes, a château with its walls, moat and draw- bridge, conical slate roofs topping cylindrical towers dominated the village. The château, one of the last remaining 14th century Bergundian fortifications, was  undergo- ing restora- tion, and the village was a mix of 14th  through 17th  century wealthy mer- chants’ homes. Had we stumbled upon this gem at the beginning of our trip, we would have be totally blown away, as it was, we thoroughly enjoyed the stroll, the architecture, the ambiance, the roses, and the warmth of the early morning sun.  A place for a coffee and pastry would have been perfect. Leaving Châteauneuf, we followed narrow winding roads through an idyllic countryside of rolling fields and pastures. White Charolais cattle grazed in the pastures, giant rolls of golden, freshly bailed hay lay scattered across the rich green recently harvested fields and the hilltops provided vistas over a manicured, almost park-like landscape. We took time to make a short video driving through the small village of Barbirey-sur- Ouche, an unexceptional village by French standards but quaint and totally engaging by ours. We were running low on gas and began looking for a fuelling station. The map marked one at Saint-Seine-l'Abbaye on our route but it took us a while to even find the village. Sheila asked at the local tourist office about fuelling stations and restaurants. There was one of the former and two of the latter, a pizza shop  and a Michelin Green Guide recommended hotel restaurant. We filled the van and opted for the Green Guide recommended Hotel de la Poste. The Menu Terroire consisted of an entrée of Andouille sausage and potato on a pastry crust with mustard cream sauce; a plat of braised ox cheeks in red wine sauce with roast pomme, yellow wax beans, green lima beans accompan- ied by the house red; dessert of an assorted cheese plate of 5 local cheeses (3 superb 2 merely good) with an Irancy Pinot Noir, fol- lowed by an ice cream, coconut, raspberry roll and coffee. The dining room was old-school elegant with classical furniture, and white lace curtains. The deep wine coloured table cloths and carpet would perfectly match the colour of spilled red wine. The service was understated and excellent, the timing of courses well matched, fresh cutlery for each course, table swept of crumbs between courses. An excellent traditional meal, perhaps uninspired, but very well presented at about $75. After lunch, a drive through the Vallee de Ouche with its rolling grain fields, white Char- olais cattle grazing lush green pasture, and small villages. The quaint village of Salmaise provided the opportunity for another video. Looking for a château atop the hill we had to leave the town, switch back and re-enter at a higher level. We came across a small roofed fountain and com- munal laundry pool. The well main- tained, elegant structure no longer appeared to be used for laundry but looked as though it would make a gorgeous bathing pool. The château turned out to be private and so we headed back down hill, stopping to visit a cemetery marked with a Commonwealth Graves sign. Surprisingly, the cemetery was poorly maintained with many abandoned plots and held no Commonwealth graves. More rolling fields and forests and another Plus Beau Village hill village Flavigny-sur- Ozerain, another video, and back to camp. Sheila commented on regional differences in the Plus Beaux Villages. These were not nearly as grandiose as the ones we had visited in the Perigord region, but as com- pensation for their lack of gravitas, they were more intimate and we did not have to put up with endless tourist restaurants, snack bars, souvenir shops, and other tourists.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Route Map Route Map Slideshow Slideshow
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.