Picnic in Paris

Our trip to Paris a few weeks ago had crept up on us a bit.  We’ve both been busy at work (Dayna finishing up in her old job, me learning a new role at mine) and we’ve also been busy finding a new place to live.  So unusually unprepared for our trip, we headed off early on a Friday morning for a long weekend away.

Thankfully, we were travelling by train so the journey was easy and we found ourselves in the middle of Paris in no time.  Our first stop after dropping off our bags was the Louvre.  We didn’t end up making it there until late morning after taking in the sights of the Paris Metro and having a short stroll over via Champs Elysee from the station.

Champs-Élysées

It being the Louvre, we were expecting crowds and were not disappointed.  

The Louvre

The Louvre

The great thing was that they’ve designed the place to handle the crowds and the wait wasn’t too bad at all.  Once inside, the bulk of the tourists gravitate to the major famous pieces (Mona Lisa!) so away from those it’s actually not too bad.  

Mona Lisa

Crowd in front of Mona Lisa

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The buildings that make up the Louvre were beautiful, with intricate paintings all over the ceilings.

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

My favourite section was the old French masters with Monet being top of the list.

Claude Monet

I couldn’t help posing a little with this little beauty (I think it was Dayna’s favourite).

Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses sœurs

Leaving the Louvre behind us, we made our way across Paris to another classic item on the Paris To Do List – Notre Dame cathedral.  On the walk over we stumbled upon yet another bridge in Europe weighed down with locks (the “love lock bridge”).

The Love lock bridge

We saw pretty much the same cathedral when we were in Reims but despite seeing it all for the second time it was still impressive inside. It seems like there’re two sides to Notre Dame though. The grand impressive cathedral as a place of worship and the money making tourist attraction. It feels like the latter is winning.

Notre Dame

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Escaping the vending machines and donation boxes, we got some more exercise in climbing to the top of the cathedral to enjoy the view.

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Notre Dame

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Graphic gargoyle eating the head off someone (love the guy photobombing in the background too)

We were staying in Montemarte so we had a few local places we had to check out.

Moulin Rouge and the Cafe where Amelie was filmed was around the corner so we stopped for a quick coffee and photo.

Moulin Rouge

Amelie Cafe

Up the hill from there was Sacré Cœur.

After the walk up the steep hill we were greeted by a crowd of tourists and some guys giving out free hugs. We were also greeted by a nice view of Sacré Cœur and the city.

Free hugs at Sacré Cœur

Sacré Cœur

Along with the view of the city we also got to enjoy watching some acrobatic, freestyle football busking by Iya Traore.

Football stunts at Sacré Cœur

Football stunts at Sacré Cœur

It was a busy weekend but by far the best thing we did was tick off number 62 on our list –  have a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. We have been starved of sunshine in the last few months so we were very lucky to get a beautiful day to sit out and soak up the sun in front of the Eiffel Tower.

We started the day at a supermarket to pick up all the essential picnic stuff we needed (blanket, cutlery, plates…wine) then went on to one of the classic “touristy” market streets nearby the Eiffel Tower – Rue Cler.  After scouting out all the different places, we chose the best looking one’s and picked up cheese, baguettes, ham, chorizo, sun dried tomatoes along with a few desserts and some strawberries.

Rue Cler

Rue Cler

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

The baguettes were absolutely amazing.  So amazing that Dayna had to listen to me rave about them for a few hours in between mouthfuls.  After thinking the food couldn’t get any better the Chocolate Fondant dessert we got was pretty much the best chocolate dessert I’ve ever had in my life.  So we were happy with the food.

Making the picnic even better was the fact that we had the perfect view of the Eiffel tower and were basking in sunshine.  We ended up laying out there in a food coma for 3 hours.

So Paris has officially won us over.  Good thing it’s just a 2 hour train ride away!

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

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In Bruges (and Mons).

We’re back!

It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve posted on here but don’t worry, you haven’t missed much.  Unless being sick and watching TV is your kind of thing, in which case you’ve missed a lot.

We have been in the midst of Snowmageddon 2013 in London, busy finding out how much a few inches of snow can disrupt a city. My already not ideal commute of 45 minutes / 1 hour turned in to a daily 1 1/2 hour / 2 hour battle each way. Other people at work just called it quits and didn’t even try to get in when the snow was really coming down.

Meanwhile the snow was actually quite a nice change especially for me having only ever spent the odd few days in snow and still enjoying the novelty. Dayna and I have both been battling colds/coughs along with the rest of London so the cold, snowy weather also gave us an excuse to curl up and do nothing on the weekends. Luckily we were feeling better by the time our first trip away for the year rolled around – our trip to Bruges and then Mons to visit Dayna’s cousin Carrie.

The train ride to Brussels on Eurostar was as good as ever and we even got to enjoy a nice sunset before rolling in to Brussels and switching trains to get to Bruges.

Arriving in Bruges we had only a loose idea that our accommodation was about 15-20 minutes’ walk away so I was thinking we might struggle to find our way in the dark with no maps.

Train station

Bruges’ little train station

Luckily they light up the Belfry tower & steeples around Bruges and since the rest of the town is flat, it was pretty easy to steer ourselves in the right direction.

Steeple

Steeple lighting the way to our hotel

I had done a bit of research in to where to eat and drink in Bruges so we set out right away to the first restaurant on my list – Cafe Rose Red. This place was number one on Trip Advisor for Bruges when I looked it up so I was pretty excited. However, in what was to be a recurring theme of the next couple of days, the restaurant was shut for a few weeks in January and we were out of luck (the same thing happened with 2 other places we went to).

We were saved by a nearby bar that was also on my list called Bierbrasserie Cambrinus and here we got our first taste of Belgian beer of the weekend. I told Dayna that she couldn’t come to Belgium and not try some beer and to her credit she managed to get through quite a few different versions of Kriek Bier over the weekend.  This beer is usually cherry or raspberry flavoured so wasn’t too much of a stretch – I think drinking a Guinness in Ireland will be a bit more of a challenge for her.

Dayna's first beer

Dayna’s first Belgian beer

I struggled to choose from the huge beer menus so usually opted for the 4 beer tasting option. After all, what’s better than a nice cold Belgian beer? (4 nice cold beers!)

4 beers

My first 4 Belgian beers of the weekend

Beer

Some of the Belgian beers are a bit stronger than normal…

We didn’t spend all our time in bars though…

We braved the cold icy streets and snow to do our own little walking tour of Bruges.  The canals were frozen over along with the lakes which just added to the beauty of the place. As Ralph Fiennes once said, “it’s like a fairytale town isn’t it?” (don’t worry, that will be my last ‘In Bruges’ quote)

Canals

Boobs

Lake Minnewater

Lake Minnewater

Canals

Canals

Grand Palais

We went to the same place for breakfast each morning which had amazing bread, meat, cheese, croissants, pain au chocolat, and homemade jams.  When we started running low on something the lovely owner filled up our platters so we definitely got our moneys’ worth there.

The service was the best part of it though – it felt like a mum making us breakfast so if you’re ever in Bruges, give Bittersweet a visit.  They also had amazing Hot chocolate made from a large chocolate tulip (flower shaped chocolate, filled with more chocolate) dropped in to hot steamed milk.  Dayna told me off a little for not getting a photo of it before I dropped the chocolate in but it looked too good to wait.

Bittersweet

After a few days in Bruges we still didn’t manage to figure out the language at all (Flemish, Dutch, German, French…I don’t know).  In the same sentence I would start off thinking someone was speaking German, then they would throw out some French then a bit of English before switching back to German.  It was weird anyway and I reverted to pointing and smiling as my main form of communication until someone asked a question in English or I was ordering something off a menu.

Belfry tower

Belfry tower from the ground

We took on the steep winding staircases of the Belfry Tower to climb 366 steps fuelled by a heaping pile of Frites and mayonnaise beforehand.  I didn’t take well to eating fries with a fork (as the locals do) and ended up destroying the little plastic fork and having to fish out a bit of plastic from the back of my mouth before I choked on it.  I made do without the fork from then on.

Frites

Fuel for the steps

View from Belfry

View from Belfry

The view from the top was worth the effort of our climb but turned out the walk down was harder.  My legs were feeling a bit wobbly by the end – I need to join a gym…

Belfry

These tight winding staircases totally backed up Colin Farrell’s advice to the fattie’s in ‘In Bruges’ that they wouldn’t make it up

Belfry and Grand Palais

Belfry and Grand Palais

We left Bruges with the snow really starting to come down.  Amazingly, in Bruges snow doesn’t appear to stop trains in their tracks and before we knew it were on our way back to Brussels before heading on to Mons to meet up with Dayna’s cousin Carrie and her buddy Max.

Carrie was a wonderful host to us but Max really took it to the next level.  He was so friendly that he was soon climbing in to our laps trying to kiss us.

Dayna and Max

I don’t know what Dayna is doing with her hand there…looks like she is going to try and shake his hand/paw

Carrie and Max

My longing for a dog is now even worse than it was…

After our introduction to Max, we ventured out and took a slightly scenic route getting in to the Grand palais area of Mons.   We were introduced to the quirks of Belgian traffic lights and Belgian drivers who appear to like abandoning their cars (still running) in the middle of the street.  After a nice meal out, we headed home to plan out our little road trip the next day to visit some of the Canadian and NZ war memorials and war cemeteries.

Grand Palais - Mons

Grand Palais – Mons

A great thing about going for a Sunday drive in Europe was  that we crossed the border in to France without even knowing it.

Our first stop was the Caterpillar valley cemetery which along with holding the graves of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers, also commemorated the 1200 odd NZ soldiers who died in the Battles of the Somme in 1916, and whose graves are not known.  I always find it crazy reading the ages of the soldiers who died there and was hard pressed to find any that were older than me.   A good way to make you appreciate life more and appreciate the sacrifices these men made.

Caterpillar Cemetery

Caterpillar Cemetery

Caterpillar Cemetery

Caterpillar Cemetery

As we were gradually making our way out of the cemetery Dayna found a particularly special grave site.  This was the grave of the unidentified New Zealand solder who was moved and laid to rest within the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in Wellington in 2004.

Caterpillar Cemetery

Our next stop was Vimy Ridge, the place where Canada’s four army divisions fought together as one for the first time and won a famous victory over Germany.

Vimy Ridge

The trenches have been rebuilt and maintained and you can see how ridiculously close the two sides were when they fighting.  The surrounding areas were fenced off as there are still unexploded ordinances around and you can see the effect on the landscape of the artillery shelling with little craters everywhere.  The area is actually quite nice with trees everywhere now so it is hard to imagine it with fierce fighting everywhere over the flat, treeless landscape that was there during the first world war.

Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge

On the German side of the trenches here by a German Pill box with the Canadian side off to the left

After the trenches, we visited the huge Vimy Ridge memorial nearby.  Carrie continued to play tour guide and let us know that one of the memorial’s biggest fans was somewhat infamous  – Adolf Hitler.  Hitler apparently issued strict orders to protect the memorial during World War 2 and even put S.S. guards there to protect it from both Allied forces and the German army.

Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge

A nearby café had a Canadian theme so it seemed the obvious place to stop for lunch.  It was a tiny little family run place and they didn’t really speak English so we relied on Carrie to ask if we could eat there.  The waitress/owner had to go in to the kitchen to see if any food was available before confirming to us that there was steak and chips available.  So one meal of steak, chips and a huge, weird onion salad later we were on the road again to the last cemetery we were visiting, the ANZAC cemetery in Sailly-sur-la-lys.

Anzac Cemetery

Canadian Cemetery

Canadian Cemetery on the other side of road from the ANZAC Cemetery

One of the striking things of all of the cemeteries was that they were so well looked after.   The Commonwealth War Graves Commission do a great job.

We made good time on getting to Lille to catch our Eurostar train home so asked if we could switch to the earlier train – and as easy as that it was done at no charge.  Couldn’t have done that if we were flying!

And so we ticked off number 31 from our 100 Things List – thanks again Carrie for being such a wonderful host!

How I proposed to Dayna

So I guess the best place to begin this is, well, the beginning.  And the beginning for a proposal story starts with a ring.

I had been in to a few different jewellery stores and had studied and learned all about the 4 C’s of diamonds and knew pretty much what I was going to buy.  Only issue was that this was back in NZ and we were planning on quitting our jobs, going travelling and moving to the UK.  We also didn’t have any idea how long it may take us to find a job in the UK.  All things considered it was probably not the best time to make a substantial deposit in to a jewellery store’s bank account.

No surprises from an Accountant, I decided to bide my time and parked the ring shopping for awhile.

Fast forward a few months to our new life in the UK and we suddenly found ourselves with completely joint finances and no way for me to make a purchase without giving it away to Dayna.  One of my life’s great pleasures is surprising Dayna or making her laugh hard enough that she does her crazy banshee shriek so it was key to me that she was surprised.

I eventually decided I would buy a simple little “placeholder” ring that would give me something to propose with.  This also had the advantage of giving Dayna some input in to buying the ring that she will hopefully be wearing for the rest of her life (plus it got me off the hook trying to find one by myself!).

I found a small kiwi company (Wilshi) that sells exactly the type of ring that I wanted and the kiwi connection was a nice bonus.  They also had a nice little necklace to go with the ring after it’s replaced by the proper engagement ring – perfect.  So the ring was chosen.

Next thing I needed to do was figure out a plan to actually propose.  I didn’t think finding a place to propose would be too hard since we now live in London and get to travel around to romantic European locations every few weeks.  Sure enough, we booked a long weekend away in Pisa and Florence and my first plan was hatched – the Italian plan.

I spent quite a bit of time researching and settled on Boboli gardens as the best spot.  I figured it was big enough to give me some time where it was just the two of us around plus views over Florence and Tuscan hills would surely be romantic, right?

Wrong.  As those who have spent time with Dayna outdoors would know, Bugs love her.  Specifically they love to bite her.  After 30 minutes of all the bugs in Florence gorging themselves on her, Dayna finally lost it and was in tears in frustration at the bugs ruining her day.  I meanwhile was relatively bite free though I was awkwardly trying to conceal a large engagement ring box in my pocket and had been for the last 5 hours so it wasn’t exactly stress free for me either.

Gardens

At Boboli gardens where we nearly got engaged…

Having given up on Boboli gardens I went on to Plan B – a romantic dinner with some italian wine , stroll over to get some Gelato, sit and eat the Gelato on Ponte Vecchio bridge listening to the local buskers sing before a stroll along the Arno river where I would suggest we pull up and sit for awhile before taking the opportunity to pop the question.

All was going to plan until the stroll along the Arno river where Dayna decided, as she is wont to do, that it was past her bedtime and she wanted to be in bed as soon as possible.  So Plan B was foiled and the Italian plan was abandoned altogether.  It was probably a good thing as Dayna later pointed out (after I told her of my old failed plans) that she didn’t think the groups of stumbling drunk people walking along the river would have set a good back drop to a proposal.  Fair enough.

I recovered from my failure after a few weeks and hatched what I guess I should now be calling Plan C.  Plan C came in to play when we left for Reims in the Champagne region of France for another long weekend.  I learned my lesson this time and wasn’t going to try engineer an opportunity to propose.  Instead the plan was just to carry the ring around when I thought there might be an opportunity that day and then hope we would stumble in to a perfect spot.

So on our second day in Reims we were going to a cellar tour and Champagne tasting at Veuve Cliquot in the morning.  Proposing after some Champagne tasting sounded like a good idea so I snuck the ring in to my pocket along with the necklace and off we went.  Only issue was having to hide my bulging pocket from Dayna again (for potentially a whole day).  Trust me, it was harder than it sounds.  Luckily it didn’t take the whole day…

Veuve Clicquot tasting

A clueless Dayna having some morning Champagne before our little stroll

After our tour of Veuve Cliquot and glass of their Grande Dame we were keen for more champagne.  Luckily there was another cellar nearby called Ruinart so we headed in that direction.

On the way we walked past what I thought looked like a really nice park.   It was covered in beautiful trees with red and orange Autumn leaves covering the ground and there was a cute little hill in the middle.  I pointed out the park to Dayna by saying “that park looks really nice, do you want to walk through it?”

Dayna replied with “that’s not a nice park, that’s a creepy park”.  And so we stayed on the road and I spotted the potential to propose in the creepy park just to annoy her/prove my point that it was really a very nice park.

Our visit to Ruinart didn’t last long.  We had one short lived conversation with the guy at the door who only knew one sentence of English “You need to make booking at least 24 hours in advance”.  So around we turned, back in the direction of the creepy very nice, romantic park.

I suggested very subtly to Dayna that maybe we could walk back through the park.  She reluctantly agreed.  At this stage we had walked a lot and it had been awhile since we had eaten so, unsurprisingly, Dayna was getting a tad cranky and wanted (as she informed me) a drink, some food and a seat.  So she did not greet my suggestion to walk up the hill with much joy.  But up we went to a chorus of “This is not what I meant by sitting down” with me arguing the point that there will definitely be seats at the top.

There weren’t any seats at the top.  My plans were failing again despite the fact that it was really nice up at the top and we had the whole place to ourselves.  Dayna pretty much walked straight across the top of the hill and started to head down the other side while I wandered around taking in the view.  I managed to convince Dayna to, reluctantly, come back up and hang out for a bit longer.  I knew I didn’t have long so decided to distract her with something shiny – her “belated birthday necklace”.

At this point I knew this moment was about as good as Dayna would ever give me so I decided to dive right in.  Dayna was distracted with her necklace and then it pretty much went like this:

Me: “…and since you’re never going to give me a good time to do this…”

*pulling the box out of my pocket*

Dayna: “What are you doing?!”

*Me getting down on one knee*

Me: “Dayna, you frustrate the hell out of me but I want you to frustrate the hell out of me for the rest of my life…” (rather eloquent for an unplanned line I would like to think)

Dayna: “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD”

Me: “Will you marry me?”

Dayna: “Yes!, yes!, yes!”

Thankfully the answer came quickly!  Magically Dayna went from being cranky and tired to shaky and excited with a huge grin on her face.  Unfortunately I think I only get to play this card the once.

I really don’t think it could have gone any better in the end.

And with that we get to add number 74 to our 100 Things List:

Get married.

After we got engaged

The spot where we got engaged

Drinking Champagne in Champagne

We spent this past weekend in Reims, France ticking off yet another item on our 100 things list: Drinking champagne in Champagne. It also added another country visited bringing our total up to 14!

Another first was travelling by Eurostar train instead of flying and I’ve got to say, it’s my new favourite way to travel. It’s so nice to be able to show up only 30 minutes beforehand, spend literally 2 minutes (if that) going through customs, bringing on whatever food/drink we like, and not have to worry about baggage restrictions (within reason anyway). Plus, you end up in the middle of the city instead of an hours drive away AND you get to use your phone!

Pretty sure I’ll be taking Eurostar whenever possible.

So, after a lovely train ride and a dodgy walk through the dark streets of Paris to make our connecting train, we arrived in Reims late Thursday night. Our hotel was about a 3 minute walk from the station in the main restaurant/bar area of Place d’Erlons – perfect location. However, it was massive with big red carpeted hallways and sections under renovation so it had a bit of ‘The Shining’ feel to it. I haven’t seen the movie but Matt has and confirmed that all the Hotel was missing was 2 creepy twin girls walking around the hallways.  A little creepy, but it was a good price and had a massive bed so we were happy.

The next morning (after a bit of a sleep in), we went out in search of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. The streets of Reims are a bit confusing but eventually we turned a corner and there it was. These photos don’t do justice to how big this church is – absolutely massive!

Cathedral of Notre-Dame

Cathedral of Notre-Dame

You can see the parts that have been rebuilt due to bomb damage in WWI, and the towers were meant to go higher (although I can’t wrap my head around how) but after a fire it was decided that they would stay as is.

The Cathedral is roughly 800 years old (to put that into perspective, the temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia were built around the same time) and, like I said before, I have no idea how they built massive and intricately detailed structures like this back then. And to have them last this long…completely blows my mind.

Inside the church was hauntingly beautiful with lots of stain glass windows.

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

From there, we practice our French by ordering sandwiches at a cafe (mostly just pointed and said ‘oui’ or ‘non’) then walked to the Museum of Surrender.
Matt’s been reading a lot about WWII lately so he geeked out a bit when he found out that the room where Germany signed the surrender documents to end the war was in Reims.

The room is in a school (which is still being used and we had to make our way through a bunch of students to get to it) and was Dwight Eisenhower’s headquarters during the war. They’ve separated it from the rest of the school and turned it into a museum all the while keeping the room exactly the same as the day the documents were signed.

Museum of Surrender

Museum of Surrender

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more connected to a historical event than I did in that room.

Our days ended up in a bit of a routine during our time in Reims. We’d have a little bit of a sleep in, then walk around taking in the sights and grab some lunch and wander around some more. Then we’d head back to our hotel room for a few hours to read or nap before heading out for dinner. It was nice not having a tonne of things to do or see and a TV that only had French speaking channels (including badly dubbed over movies – it’s a bit weird seeing Anthony Hopkins speaking French with his lips not moving in time with the words). It meant we could have a relaxing weekend which was definitely needed.

Church

Reims centre

Reims centre

Saturday morning we got ready to cross off Drinking Champagne in Champagne off the list by preparing our stomachs with French pastry goodness and headed to the Veuve Clicquot champagne house.

We got a tour of their museum and were told the history of the company which has been around for nearly 200 years.

This is one of the oldest bottles still unopened:

Veuve Clicquot - oldest bottle

After that, we headed into the caves where they age the champagnes. What we found really interesting about the Veuve Clicquot caves was that they were used as a hospital in WWI and the markings are still on the walls.

Veuve Clicquot caves

Veuve Clicquot caves

Veuve Clicquot caves

Used as a WWI hospital

Finally, it was time to taste the delicious champagne. We later saw this bottle going for 190 Euros at a restaurant.

Veuve Clicquot tasting

Veuve Clicquot tasting

Veuve Clicquot tasting

After leaving Veuve Clicquot, we thought we’d try our luck at getting into Ruinart house without a reservation. The man at the gate spoke very little English and answered our question with the only answer he knew: “You need to book 4 days in advance.” So apparently, unlike at wineries, you can’t just go to the champagne houses to purely taste. Good to know! (guess it makes sense though when expensive bottles of champagne can’t really be opened just for a couple of people to taste)

On our way back to our hotel, we had a walk through a (what I originally thought was creepy but turned out quite nice) park. But more on that later….

The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking a (much cheaper) bottle of champagne out of plastic cups in our hotel room. Classy!

Classy celebrating

The next day as we were walking to another champagne house, we stumbled across some old Roman ruins and soaked up the beauty of all the pretty autumn colours.

Reims park

Old Roman structure

Matt throwing berries at me

Our next champagne tasting was at GH Mumm. We did a tour of the caves here as well and again got to hear about the process of making champagne. As the tours are relatively all the same, I wish there was an option to just do the tasting. Still pretty interesting though!

Mumm Champagne house

Different size bottle of Mumm

Mumm caves

Mumm caves

Mumm tasting

Mumm tasting

We were pleasantly surprised by the food in Reims. I think it all tasted so good cause we didn’t have any sort of expectations on it. Whereas in Italy, we were expecting amazing food and all we got was less than average (besides the gelato and sandwiches).

Crepes for lunch

Crepes for dessert

One night we decided to go for dessert after dinner (I was craving crème brulee) so we rocked up to this swanky looking place wearing jeans and hoodies. We looked totally out of place (evidenced further by them placing us in a reasonably empty section of the restaurant) but had amazing dessert and Grand Marnier…which cost more than our dinner.

Dessert

Another excellent food related thing about Reims was that it had candy stores. One was absolutely massive (and had better candy than Candyland in Singapore), and the other had my absolute favourite candy that I’ve previously only found in Canada. Yes, it’s a sour key which you can find anywhere, but this is a particular type. I take candy seriously.

Reims has my all time favourite candies that I've previously only found in Canada.

We also didn’t have too much trouble language wise. The only difference we noticed was that people would just speak french very quickly at you even though it was clear we had no idea what they were saying. When we’d stop them and say something along the lines of ‘Je ne parle pas Francais’ they’d just continue on as if we could understand.

One case was when the Candy lady was rambling on in French as we slowly back out of the store gave us too much change saying Merci…Je ne se Pas etc before we finally realised that she had given us too much change and wanted her money back.

I was quite happy with how much french I remembered from high school though! Reading menus was pretty easy (and I even got to show off how many words I knew to Matt) but my issue was when people started talking to me. I knew (very roughly) how to respond but I’d just panic and stare at them like a deer in headlights. Very tempted to take some night classes to freshen up.

Reims is one of those places that makes you think “I wish _____ was here cause they’d love it.” We’ll definitely go back one day and hopefully some of our friends and family can join us.