Left Bristol at just after 10am, stopped for lunch at Maidstone
services at about 1pm, since otherwise I'd reach the Chunnel terminal
more than two hours before crossing time. In the WH Smiths I saw Chad
Orzel's "How to teach Quantum Physics to your dog" as number eleven
in the non-fiction best seller list, and on a buy one, get one
half-price deal. So I took a photo to mail to Chad and bought a copy.
Arrived at the Chunnel terminal at about 1:40, the car was immediately
recognized, and I was offered the option of travelling on the 2:20 or
2:50 shuttles at no-extra cost, so I opted for 2:20. Just time to
visit the duty-free sales shed, and get an AA kit of all the things
you need to be legal driving in France (emergency triangle, headlight
converters, high-vis jacket, spare bulb kit, ...). Drove on to the
shttle, and then sit there for half an hour in the car before driving
out straight onto the roads in France. Passport checked by UK border
control, and the French border control (on the wrong side of the car,
of course), just check you can wave something burgundy coloured at
Set off down A26 in light rain, and drove until just before seven
getting to Reims. Listened to "Nostalgie" a weird mix of Gainsbourg,
Queen, etc. Had a track for the "identify the track from under three words from
the lyric competition" : "Tyrolean spa".
I managed to resist the idea of staying in an Ibis
(or whatever a the motorway exit), and followed my noze into the
centre of town, in time to park at 7pm just as the parking
restrictions finish, 360 miles and eight hours after leavng Bristol.
Found the Hotel Azur, a friendly, non-chain, French 2* hotel, where
the proprietress gave me a map and pointed me in the direction of the
restaurants in the centre of town, as well as various tokens for free
beer in one place, or a free glass of Champagne in another.
Had an excellent moules au safran frites avec sa tarte aux pommes for
under 12Euro in La Grande <something> in the center of Reims. Walked
back to the hotel via the cathedral, which is very well lit, and
celebrating its 800th anniversary this year (2011).