Today I woke up very very early to catch a taxi with another resident to the train station. She was on her way home through Paris, and I was catching another train to Troyes, a small town in the Champagne region known for half timber houses, those ones you always see with wooden cross bars (see pictures), and cathedrals. The day got off to a cold and cloudy start, and since I had to take an early train (or else wait until lunchtime), I got there before anything was open. So I walked around, bought an almond croissant, got my bearings, and waited shivering until the cathedrals open, and after that, the museums. The cathedrals were lovely (although I think the Italians might outdo everyone here) and were very quiet, I often had them to myself. Then After walking in what felt like circles, I finally found the Museum of Modern Art of Troyes, walled in and tucked behind a cathedral, and found out it was free admission! I’m guessing that was because the part of the upper floors were closed, but since they had no signage I didn’t realize that because the guy at the admission told me about something on that level that WAS open, so I ended up in the closed section until a very friendly guard had to come get me and explain. Oops. Nothing like a language gap to make you feel like an idiot.
Then I went shopping, again feeling like a mute who just repeats bonjour and merci over and over. Everyone was so nice and smiley to me though. I did my best. At lunch at a creperie I did slightly better, using my broken French to a very friendly man who did speak English (there was a couple of Americans near me) but I stuck to the French with no mishaps. Yay for me! Then I was going to go to another museum, but the hours I had from my guidebook were wrong, and everything, including shops, cathedrals, and museums, are closed during lunch from noon until after 2pm. So I didn’t feel like waiting in the cold again, and if I’d waited and gone to the museum I would have had to wait around a few hours for the next train home, so instead I skipped the second museum and caught an earlier train home to Nogent. Since I was in Nogent earlier there was no bus (that is the problem about being in the French countryside, very few trains and buses so you end up waiting around forever) but I realized the museum was still open. I’ve been meaning to go to the Nogent museum because there’s supposed to be a great sculpture collection, so I hiked up there. I got in free again (yay!) and was very impressed! The sculptures were great, and if I had more time I would have sketched some of them. They also had this great room of impressionist-like paintings that were lit so nicely the sky and water or other bright colors looked like it was glowing! I actually kept trying to figure out how they did it, but I’m guessing specific bulbs well aimed. Then when I thought I was finished, there was this entire other building like a garage in back with HUGE plaster sculptures. Amazing! Then, because I didn’t want to wait the nearly three hours until the next bus (theres only four all day) I took the long walk home in the mist, one hour through the countryside. My feet are a little tired, but I feel very good about my day overall. And it’s nice to be in a warm place with a cup of tea as well.
Pictures are from Troyes–on a summer day, these would be amazing, but oh well, they’re a little gray. Was still a lovely town. Enjoy!