Thursday, 31 May 2012
France - Day 9
Day 9, and the last night I'll be spending in France.
I'd decided on an easier day as I don't really have very far to go now. After a good breakfast I headed off for the museum in Reims that I'd mentioned yesterday. I found it easily enough and when I arrived it was open. It was very quiet when I was there, only another couple, so I had a good look round and could easily take photos.
First part was a room of models cars, hundreds of them in glass cases (this seems to be a common theme in French museums). I was particularly taken by these pressed steel ones.
The main hall has most of the cars, plus the motorbikes. There's about 160 cars, almost all of which are French, many from manufacturers I'd never heard of. Lots of beauties like these.
Just after WW2, French manufacturers seemed obsessed with aerodynamics, as shown by some of the prototypes displayed.
There were also some fire engines, and really cool advertising vans like this slightly creepy one that advertised sweets.
There were also good collection of sports cars including a Matra Bagheera. Back in the early 80s a friend was offered one of these quite cheaply. He backed off when he found out the price of spares!
Then onto the motorbikes. Once again, mostly French and many bikes I had seen at the Coupes Moto Legénde. I particularly like this Pullman.
There seems to have always been a time when you could drive a very small, slow car without any licence. (Plenty of new 'microcars' on the road). Nowadays they are mostly 400cc diesels, but back in the 50s, 50cc moped engines were popular.
One of the funniest things there was a display of cars built by one designer that had 4 wheels in a 'diamond' layout. In theory, these should have been viable cars as they had 1600cc VW engines, but I can't imagine many were sold despite looking as cool as this.
After the museum, I went into the city centre and had a look at there very impressive cathedral.
I had intended visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, but it was just about to shut for lunch. I wandered around the city centre having a look at they many fine buildings before heading to my next destination, Saint Quentin, which I had been told was worth a visit.
Another attractive town with an impressive cathedral and superb architecture.
The cathedral was undergoing extensive repairs and I saw a pair of stone masons at work. Can't be many people about now who can do that kind of work. On the way here I had noticed an increasing number of large war memorials and military cemeteries. This is the area where a lot of WW1 was fought, and Saint Quentin Cathedral had a lot of what looked like bullet holes in the stonework.
On now to my final destination, Amiens, where I found a room at the Formule 1. Amiens also has an impressive cathedral, painted by Monet and other artists of the period, but I might not boher visiting as I think I've seen enough cathedrals and don't really want to struggle through city centre traffic to see another one. Formule 1 hotels are cheap but fairly basic. The rooms aren't en-suite and there are toilets and showers at the end of the corridor. If I have one complaint, it's that the showers aren't as much fun as the sign suggests. Every time I've taken one I've been on my own!
My sailing tomorrow is at 19:00 and it's only a 3 hour or so ride, so I might ride up to the coast and follow it to Zeebrugge – see how I feel in the morning. Total mileage today was probably about 150 – 200 miles, 200 – 300 km, and 'Song of the Day' is by Bill Bailey.