The reason nowhere has agreed to take it in exchange is because it is clearly (to the trained eye, not ours) a bottle we bought from an Auchan supermarket in Paris and can only be exchanged with them. As the nearest Auchan is 75 miles away we had resigned ourselves to disposing of the bottle at the déchetterie. We popped into the déchetterie on Thursday to get rid of old engine oil, but found they wouldn’t take the empty gas bottle.
The outlets we tried during this week were out of propane and weren’t going to be restocked until Friday. We tried again on Friday and were just going to give up when we passed a small independent garage with a cage full of propane bottles outside. At first the guy wouldn’t take our bottle but after making him and his wife feel sorry for us, he agreed to take it. We do find that asking people to help us to pronounce words seems to make them drop their defences and become eager to help 😉
After a couple of frosts this week, the weather has turned milder again and it looks set to be that way for our last few days over here before returning to the UK for three months next week.
|Sunset from the port on Friday|
|Decorations going up on the roundabout by the port|
By the time we got back from our morning walk it was practically lunchtime and what with one thing and another by the time we were ready to go there wasn’t really enough time to go out sightseeing. Later on, during our afternoon walk into town, we found 12 painted manhole covers that were new to us. This brings the total to 43 and here’s a montage of most of them.
If I’m honest we had also planned to do the Reims trip on Friday but never seemed to get around to it then either, so we were determined to do it when Karen got back from her run on Sunday morning. It felt a bit too close to lunchtime to be worth the bother of packing a picnic, so we had lunch on board and this time we got away.
We were heading for Paissy, one of several cave villages built in the limestone hills on the way to Laon. Once we were past Reims and heading for the hills it started getting misty and by the time we were up in the tops it was really foggy which was rather ironic as one reason for the visit was to enjoy the views. On the way we found three lavoirs, each in tiny settlements that hardly seemed like they would warrant their own wash house. Please click on the village name to see pictures of the lavoirs: Ouches-la-Vallée-Foulon, Vassogne, Cuissey-et-Geny.
|Looking out at the fog from the lavoir at Cuissey-et-Geny|
Paissy is a single road village running on a small plateau just below the escarpment. The plateau is just wide enough for the road and houses along one side which are built right up to the cliffs. Unfortunately, because of the fog, we were unable to share the views from the houses as we walked along. It seemed all the houses were using the caves as garages or store sheds although some had open land in front of them so still had free access for the general public. Apparently, the village primary school was in one of the caves and didn’t close down until 1955.
|Many of the houses looked recently built|
|One of the caves not enclosed within the boundaries of a house|
The plains in the Champagne region are given over to arable and root crops and we have particularly noticed the number of mangelwurzel fields as we have cruised through the area. Over the last few weeks the mangelwurzels have been harvested and every so often during our recent walks we have come across great mounds of them. They are stored outside during the winter and we went past quite a few piles today during our drive.
|A mangelwurzel pile|
We have to admit that we didn’t stop off for the Christmas market on our way back through Reims so really that’s three failed attempts. As I said earlier, it’s not really our scene and Buddy seemed to have sprained a leg so it wouldn’t have felt right dragging him around especially as the smell of food would have been so tantalising for him.
During the afternoon we had received a notice from VNF that the lock by our mooring was closed with a commercial stuck in it. We got in touch with Guy who is moored closest to the lock, but he was already aware as there were plenty of sightseers watching events.
|Not clear here why the boat was stuck|
|All was revealed – plant pot stopping the gates from opening fully|
By the time the divers had found and removed the pieces of pot, there was a bit of a queue waiting to get through the lock.
|Probably the first time we’ve seen a lock landing in use|
We’ve moored for a few nights on that lock landing before so just as well we weren’t there today.
With only three days left before we leave, the next couple of days will see us doing things like packing, getting Buddy checked out and his passport stamped by the local vet.