Honfleur was certainly a good first stopover. I fell in love with the old wood and slate houses of different shapes and sizes squashed together along tiny streets. Our hotel was quirky too. It was more like a room in an apartment run by a glamorous middle aged lady with a teddy bear fetish. I counted 25. The number was dwindling rapidly as Lenny figured it was a free-for-all so I was kept busy rescuing the victims from his jaws. The breakfast was everything my expensive nutritionist would advise me against, i.e it was delicious.
Driving across Northern France, you are constantly reminded of the two Great Wars endured here. There are signposts every few kilometres remembering battle sites. It’s not too difficult to imagine the plains, now fields of crops, once being filled with war machines and soldiers.
The other thing you see a lot of on French motorways is, unfortunately, toll stations. It must be one of the most expensive places to drive in the world. For example, we drove 545km yesterday and spent a whopping €48.50 on tolls. Certainly something to consider if budgeting for a road trip in France. It remains to be seen if the roads of Germany, Austria, and so on are similarly priced.
In an effort to be more € savvy, we booked an Ibis Budget hotel about 4km from the centre of Metz. Metz was only a quick stopover anyway so it was a good opportunity to try to spend a bit less on accommodation. I am a fan of Ibis Hotels for their practicality. You know what you are getting each time. There are three ranges from the basic Budget to the higher end Styles. They are always clean with adequate breakfast and friendly staff. Our Ibis Hotel was located in a retail park area called Technopole. So we didn’t bother going for the ‘room with a view’.
We drove into the centre of Metz at around 8pm for a bite to eat. It was dark driving in which made the magnificent Metz Cathedral stand out over the city. Going across the bridge over the Moselle River, we passed a most beautiful Romanesque church – we found out later on that the Temple Neuf de Metz is only a century old. Avenue Lorraine lined with old mansions was very impressive too.
Sunday evening in Metz is not a good time to be hungry. Most restaurants are closed. We did, however, find a nice old fashioned Bistro on Place De Chambre called Mamie M’A Dit, serving local dishes. Frank started with the Quiche Lorraine (seeing as we were in Lorraine) which was delicious; for mains, he had the duck and I had salmon. Both came with generous portions of vegetables, which was exactly what we were looking for. I often find I don’t get enough vegetables when I’m travelling, so I try to stock up when the opportunity presents itself.
Something to note: Car phone chargers don’t really work. Well they are far less powerful than normal charging ports. We went into the city centre with 24% charge and used Google maps for the 15 minutes it took to get there. I had to turn off the phone as had 10% left on arrival. We turned on the phone to navigate our way back to the hotel and there was 4% left which quickly went down to 1% as Frank frantically tried to memorise the many turns to take. Somehow, we made it to where we could see the hotel as the phone died.
I am writing this on the road to Baden-Baden. Right now we must be very close to the border. The few houses I can see are beginning to look more German. Today’s plan is to visit Baden-Baden for a few hours and then to drive a further 3 hours to one of my favourite European cities, Munich, where we will stay tonight. Now I wait in anticipation to see the big “Willkommen in Deutschland” billboard.