On a trip like this, when we are trying to see as much as possible, we try to avoid backtracking but occasionally it is necessary. We drove an hour each way between Fort William and Mallaig to buy Majella’s coat. Today we did about twice that amount of backtracking for an equally good reason.
When we woke at 7:00 am there was sunlight from a patchy sky but it was evident from the puddles outside that it had rained through the night. We showered, dressed, and went down for breakfast at 8:00. Paulette had set the dining table and laid out a selection of croissants, crusty rolls, slices of bread, slices of rockmelon, kiwi fruit and orange, cheese, ham, yoghurt, and jams along with a pot of coffee and milk. We ate what we needed from that selection and then went back up to pack and leave. By 8:45 am we were on the road.
I drove back through Libramont and then east toward Luxembourg. We crossed the border but did not go into the city or stop. Instead we turned south and were soon in France and making good time toward our destination. The weather was variable. At times I needed sunglasses but there were occasional heavy showers too. That was typical of the weather through the day.
By 10:30 am it was time to look for coffee so I pulled off at Metz and parked in an underground parking garage near the centre. We walked about for a bit and saw some interesting old buildings before having coffee in a cafe but as we saw on the way out and later, we missed some of the best sights including the large cathedral.
From Metz we continued south. Just before we reached Nancy, about 200 km and approaching 3 hours from our starting point, I asked Majella if she had packed her new coat when as we were leaving this morning. It was cool enough when we went for dinner last night that she had put it on and wore it back to our room. She had hung it in the cupboard in our room but had forgotten to get it out this morning. The GPS was reset to yesterday’s destination, I took the next exit and entry on the highway, and we headed back to get it.
About an hour from her coat, Majella called to check that there would be someone there so that we could get it. Paulette was there and said she had found it and would be there when we arrived. I got there as quickly as possible. Majella collected her coat and took over driving for the trip to Dijon since I had already done 4 hours or so. At that point we had been travelling for a bit more than 5 hours for zero progress toward our destination. That must set a new record for backtracking. Majella’s coat is fast developing legendary status.
Some tinkering with the GPS revealed that allowing tolls reduced the travel time by about an hour. Arriving around 6:00 pm seemed preferable to 7:00 pm so we selected the fastest route with tolls and headed off to retrace our steps from this morning but this time we did not stop at Metz. Somewhere a little way beyond Nancy, a large city we glimpsed as we went past, the péage began. We collected our ticket and wondered what it might cost to get off the other end.
Around 4:00 pm we stopped at a service point for fuel and had ice creams but otherwise Majella drove on as quickly as possible. By that time the rain showers had stopped and the sun was shining through scattered clouds. The countryside we passed through had some stands of trees, mostly on hilltops, with some signs of logging but was mostly rolling hills of farmland with crops and grazing.
We reached Dijon around 6:15 pm and found our hotel easily enough. Luckily there was space in the street so we were able to park there while we checked in and found out where the hotel parking was. Accessing it required driving up the street and down the back street to find a rear entrance. There was a space available so we parked there and took our overnight gear inside.
By 7:00 pm we were back outside walking to the nearby town centre in search of dinner. Although it was not especially cool, Majella decided to wear her coat in celebration of its safe return. Its colour is a good match for the autumn leaves that are beginning to gather in piles along the streets. Dinner proved harder to find than we had expected because today was Monday and the nearest restaurants in the area at the top of the street were closed.
I searched the Maps app and we checked the restaurants that appeared there. None of those we found was open tonight and some looked like they might be permanently closed. Eventually we found a brasserie on a square. It was serving only drinks tonight but they were able to direct us around the corner to Le Petit Roi de la Lune (Little King of the Moon) where we were able to get dinner, roast lamb for Majella and steak for me, both served with thin pieces of fried potato. Dijon is capital of the Burgundy region so we had glasses of local Pinot.
The side benefits of having to hunt for dinner were the chance for some exercise after sitting in the car for most of the day and seeing areas of Dijon that we would otherwise have missed. The older part of town has some beautiful old buildings that we saw as we walked around in our search. Had we arrived earlier there was much more that we would have enjoyed exploring.
We walked back to the hotel after dinner. Majella made sure to put her coat back in the car before we came back to our room.