Saturday, 29 May 2010

Turning Back Time in Troyes

As the coldness of the European winter recedes and warmer weather begins to emerge, Jules and I set our sights on visiting some of the picturesque towns that lie outside of Paris. One such town to the southeast is the historical village of Troyes (pronounced ‘Twah’). Located in the heart of the champagne region, it was a relatively short train trip away (approximately 150 km) and ideal for an overnight stay. As it is regarded as one of the better preserved 16th century towns in France, we were keen to make our way there. Upon our arrival we were immediately struck by the traditional architecture, which was very different than what we had imagined; looking much like the Elizabethan Tudor style of England with its use of exposed wooden structural beams. Clearly the channel between the two countries was no barrier to the development of this building style. Amazingly many of these particular structures date back to the 1500’s and over the years whole streets had been beautifully restored and maintained. Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town was indeed like stepping back in time and we were amazed at the way its authenticity has been maintained over the years. We were particularly fortunate to secure one of these heritage buildings as our accommodation for the night. Positioned close to a tree lined canal where narrow boats were moored as they had been for hundreds of years, it was an idealic picture. As we continued to wander around the centre of town we came across the ornate Troyes Cathedral, which could be viewed at close quarters from the town square. This is the heart of the old town, which is lined with numerous cafes, bars and restaurants and is a haven for tourists. In the increasing heat of the afternoon, we couldn’t resist sitting under the colourful umbrellas to quench our thirst with a nice cold beer, while taking in this uniquely French outlook. In fact, it was so good that in the evening we returned once again to eat outdoors and enjoy the ambience of the balmy night. Unlike Paris there was a relaxed atmosphere here that appeared to be less rushed by the modern pace of life. The locals were genuinely welcoming and happy to share the unique qualities of their town and countryside. Certainly, with the champagne region at their doorstep they had much to smile about, although for us the town itself was simply enough.

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