Thursday 18 September.
I finished off my blog before breakfast then we packed up ready to go. Before leaving we connected to the Internet in the dining room where I posted my blog and downloaded the newspaper. It was 8:30 am when we got going.
It was back through town to the bridge over the canal where we came off yesterday then to another bridge over the River Marne. From there the route followed the railway line for 2 km to the village of Compertrix. Leaving the village it was a quite lane away from the traffic for another 2 km to Coolus. Just before this village there was a little wayside chapel, Chappelle Saint Gibrien. The guide book said there was a seat beside it and it was there, we took advantage of a 5 minute break.
Once through Coolus we came to the Ancienne Voie Romaine but Cicerone said that the first 3 km had been ploughed over and we had to make a detour on a path beside the D2 before cutting back along a wide gravel track to pick up this old Roman road further along. I would have imagined that it would have been a Monument of Historical Importance or a World Heretage Site but there wasn't even a sign giving information or announcing that you were actually on it never mind allowing a farmer to plough it up. This is part of the Via Agrippa which was a road running from Milan to Boulogne-sur-Mer. I wondered why we didn't take that route all the way to Italy but it is probably now converted part of the way into a motorway.
Once we completed the detour and got on to this Roman road it was as the book said: 'as straight as a die'. It was like the canal yesterday no bends but it did undulate. Before starting on it we stopped for a cup of coffee in some shelter from the wind. Cicerone said that there was normally a wind blowing and into your face. It seemed to think this would be a hindrance but it fact it was a blessing, it kept us cool on a very hot day again. Another indication of the consistency of the wind was the number of wind turbines. On the crest of the hill in front of us there were hundreds. We seemed to be now clear of the vineyards and the fields here appeared to be predominately used for sugar beat with plenty of the crop in piles at the edges of the fields for collection. There were no villages or towns to go through and we judged the distance covered by the different roads and lanes that crossed the track along the way. At one crossing there was a large barn open at one end with bales of hay and pallets. It was sheltered from the wind and sun and an ideal spot for a break for lunch. I brewed the tea while Moira spread pâté on fresh bread we bought this morning in Chalons.
Where we lunched was just after a tarred road that cut diagonally across the track as stated by our guide book. We were now at another minor road 800m further on which the book said to cross and we would reach the village of Vesignuel-sur-Coole in 2 km. it was still the Roman road and perfectly straight and heading to a wooded area where we thought the village would be. Suddenly things began to go wrong, the track turned sharply to the left and there was no track across the field in front to the woods. We decided to follow the track round and after 100m it turned right and straightened again; unfortunately there wasn't a village to be seen in any direction, just field after field. We continued and I saw in the distance a road and our track was heading for it. But it didn't help much as where these tracks meet main roads there are no signposts or any indication of the road number. While Moira was trying to connect her phone to use the satnav function a tractor came along the road, I quickly stopped him to ask directions to Coole. Again my French was adequate and he said continue straight pointing up the road. At the same time Moira got a result on her phone and agreed it was straight along the road and only 5.5 km.
We made good time along a quiet road and in a short distance we came to a junction with the sign pointing to Coole. In the end we didn't lose any time with our detour and arrived in Coole at 4:15pm as I had calculated. I had to ask some people for directions to the Songy's house, they knew them and pointed to the house opposite, they had moved from no.17, the address on Rue de Chalons that I had, to no13. Sitting out on the porch under an umbrella was Jacques we met in Reims. He showed us where we were sleeping, there were two blow-up mattresses on the lounge floor. The owners weren't here yet and I couldn't get much sense out of Jacques other than make ourselves at home and have a beer from the fridge. Gerard was having a shower and when he finished we got washed, it was lovely bathroom and the shower was excellent. We both washed some clothes while showering and hung them out in the sun to dry. We sat on the porch at a table under the umbrella and read the newspaper with a beer. This is Referendum Day and the results will be in when we awake in the morning. Margaret phoned and we had a chat with her while waiting for somebody to arrive and tell us what was happening.
By 7pm it was getting cold and we were hungry. We came in and sat in the lounge and had some bread and cheese we had left to keep us going. It was 8pm when Monique and Jean-Pierre arrived. Monique spoke English and was very helpful and efficient. She arranged our accommodation for tomorrow at Corbiell where we sleep in the Mairie. For dinner we started with a big bowl of grated carrots which turned out quite tasty with an oranges flavoured sauce and a slice of melon. Next it was a cheesy pasta and we mixed tomato purée with it. Then there was bread, pâté and cheese. There was two very nice red wines to accompany all this. It is amazing how the French can make such a simple basic meal turn into an occasion. Halfway through the meal Monique's daughter arrived with her two children, they were staying the night, Monique was babysitting her grandchildren. It was better this time for conversation, the two Swiss had Jean-Pierre to talk to and we were able to chat in English with Monique.
It was about 10pm when we eventually got to bed. The others stayed up for another half a hour but we weren't disturbed. We slept well on the mattress on the floor.