I love travelling back and forth between Britain and Switzerland. Although it’s a long way, the journey is made pretty easy by the fact that most of the long haul is through France, where undulating countryside and unfamiliar landscape provides a level of interest and flat, straight, empty motorways make a journey with cruise control hardly stressful at all.

Having tried a couple of routes now, I’ve found that the best and quickest (though perhaps not the least expensive, due to the toll booths) is to leave Switzerland at Mulhouse, near Basel, to head north through Germany to Strasbourg. From there, turn off and follow the signs for Metz and Paris, heading along the A4 through the Alsace region through north eastern France. Stay on this road until you reach the Champagne region, where you turn onto the A26 near Châlons-en-Champagne and head for the city of Reims.

Long shadows in the late afternoon near Reims
Long shadows in the late afternoon near Reims

We’d chosen Reims as a first night stopping place, as it’s about halfway through the journey to southern England and the city offers a range of good inexpensive hotels and restaurants. The cathedral is certainly worth a visit, as Jo and I found on our first journey together back from southern England in 2006, when I brought Jo back to live with me. This time, though, we were only using the city as a stop-over and wanted to be on our way, so we parked up in the underground car park (conveniently beneath a main shopping and hotel area in the pedestrianized Place d’Erlon) and checked in to our hotel just as the daylight was fading. To round off our day, we headed out to get food and settled for an over-cooked steak for me and mussels for Jo.

Being in Reims is an odd feeling: a city in the middle of France, which we know well enough after three overnight stays but which is so far from anywhere else we’ve been together.

Walking off our dinner in the pedestrianized Place d'Erlon in Reims.
Walking off our dinner in the pedestrianized Place d’Erlon

More entries in this series can be found here.

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