Eurostar! More like Eurostupid!
After we watched "bike riders" in the Tour de France in Yorkshire we then did a crazy long day to get from Yorkshire to Cognac in the SW of France. The schedule looked like this:
- 7am train: Yorkshire to London
- 12 noon: Eurostar train under English Channel to Paris
- 4pm: Paris – Flight from ORLY to Bordeaux
- Crash in hotel. Drive up to Cognac in the morning.
This is how it went:
- 7am train: Yorkshire to London [Went well – easy. On time. Pleasant.]
- 12 noon: Eurostar train under English Channel to Paris [An earlier train had pulled out some wiring in the Chunnel so trains were delayed]
- 4pm: Paris – Flight from ORLY to Bordeaux [Missed Flight]
- Crash in hotel. Drive up to Cognac in the morning [Missed Hotel Reservation (and had to pay for it)]
That's an odd one. We found ourselves in Paris. Stuck.
Not a bad place to be stuck of course, but not what we expected.
We found a café next door to the train station that had drinks, ham and cheese sandwiches, and free wifi. Credit cards in hand and iPads on WIFI we booked a hotel room at a somewhat boring Marriott that I had stayed at before and wasn't $929,003 a night.
Funnily, we get to the hotel and they don't have our reservation - the Marriott reservation system was alledgely taking reservations but not checking to see if there were rooms available. Hosed!
They send us to another Marriott. It was frustrating.
We also booked train tickets to Cognac for the next day as we had missed our flight down there. The train people also have a similar system. We booked tickets. Two hours later we get a call from them saying that the train we had booked was already full. This sparked a flurry of phone calls to them ("your wait time is approximately 75 minutes") and tweets (which they kind of went overboard on).
I've been a lucky fellow and have been to Cognac a number of times – yet Mrs. Robot (who really likes drinking XO cognac) had never been. The nice folks at Grand Marnier had us over for a tour and a lunch. The nice folks at Hennessy had us over for a quick tour and then we met one my colleagues for a drink. Afterwards, we wandered down through the 'old town' part of Cognac and found Bistro Claude for oysters and sorts of fine tasting things. I seem to eat here a lot when in Cognac.
After an uneventful trip back to Paris and the renting of a car and driving to the Champagne region, we resumed the watching of the Tour de France.
Reims & Finish Line
The tour finished the next day in the city of Reims, so we headed up there. It’s a quick drive – about 25 minutes from Epernay. We found a spot near the finish line and experienced a totally different version of the caravan that day: the caravan just basically sat at the finish line and pelted us with crap for two hours while we fought off crap-grubbing French children who were wrestling over candy (the parents weren’t much better).
Seeing the stage finish was nice, although it goes by super quick and from our vantage point we couldn’t see much until they were right on us. We did get somewhat near the jersey ceremony that day and technically saw Bernard Hinault with my own eyeballs in actual real life.
Fun trick: attach your camera tripod to your umbrella for photos from above the crowds
We missed the next stage as we had an appointment that morning with a friendly winemaker. Our shoes got muddy but we stomped around vineyards and wineries in the village of Bouzy (yes, “Booze-y”).
If I had to do it again
I want to go back and attempt this Tour de France thing. Here would be my strategy:
- Study the course better and figure out fun related wine/food things nearby
- I think TimeTrials would be fun to watch
- Mountain stages would be great, but every other cycling fan in the world has the same idea. I think you have to be clever to find hill climbs that aren’t going to attract a ton of people.
- Drink more
- Pay/bribe someone for VIP access
The End Our last night, we found ourselves in Paris. I had a lovely bottle of Champagne with me. Mrs. Robot had some pastries. We watched the sun set by the side of the Siene and drank our bubbles. That was some awesome time.