We are on our way back to Blois from our cycling holiday in Germany and are looking for a stopover in France. There is nothing interesting midway but Troyes is about 3/5 of the way which is fine. We book a hotel that is a bit higher than German prices but seems to be well located.
We have been to Troyes already several times and I particularly want to go back to see the rood screen in one of the churches, after seeing one recently in Tübingen in Germany. Much of the city’s architecture also corresponds to more or less the same period of history that dominates the towns in Germany that we have just visited.
I’m a little nonplussed when I see the hotel, which is a Kyriad, a chain we have never used before. It’s three stars so I figured it would be like a Mercure. It looks very modern and ugly. Still, we only want a bed. It’s next to Conforama, a furniture chain. There is a bike path just in front of the hotel so we can’t even pull up there. Jean Michel waits in the Conforama parking lot while I go in. The girl at reception is friendly enough but does not seem to have learned to rules of polite conversation. “Do you want a bill or what?” she asks the person before me in French.
There is an extra charge for underground parking which I didn’t see on booking.com. The receptionist tells me we can park for free at Conforama which has cameras operating all night so I choose that. When we get up to the room, I decide I am striking Kyriad off my list forever. It is just too ugly and shoddy.
After resting from the 5-hour drive, we walk into the old town, which really is only 10 minutes away. The first thing we see is a set of beautifully renovated half-timbered houses that we don’t remember seeing before. Troyes, with its rich history, has a large number of 16th and 17th century Renaissance-style half-timbered houses that have gradually been restored since the 1990s, especially in rue Passerat.
Next, the cathedral, which I certainly don’t remember.
I do remember the main square, Place Maréchal Foch, but it was not this animated on our previous visits. We don’t think we’ve ever been here during the summer. Everybody looks are though they are enjoying themselves.
We head down the main street which is full of restaurants until we find Ruelle aux Chats on the right, which leads to Saint Madeleine’s church which has the rood-screen. The nave of this gothic church, which claims to be the oldest in Troyes, was built in the 13th century, while the chancel and apse were built in the 16th century and the tower in the 17th century. It is one of the rare churches to have preserved its Renaissance stone rood-screen finely sculpted by Jehan Gailde.
It is as magnificent as I remember. There is only one person in the church so we are able to take plenty of photos.
I particularly like the gold-painted calvary on one side of the rood-screen.
The ambulatory has a magnificent set of beautifully-coloured stained glass windows from the same period (around 1500) that show considerable technical skill.
After visiting the church we join the throng on the main square for an aperitif. We then have dinner in a street parallel to the main restaurant street. What I didn’t see is that our restaurant has a terrace on the other side which means that there are a lot of customers and obviously not enough kitchen staff! Our meal takes a very long time to come. But it doesn’t matter – we’re not in a hurry.
Next morning, after a good night’s sleep (at least the beds are comfortable), we leave our ugly hotel (the man on reception has more personal skills than the girl yesterday) and walk into the centre for breakfast as neither of us wants to have it at the hotel.
Visiting Troyes on a Sunday morning is a different experience. There is practically no one around and I am able to take more photographs. It’s even quite difficult to find somewhere for breakfast.
We go past the church of Saint Jean in front of which there is plaque dedicated to Marguerite Boureoys, the founder of public schooling in Montreal and “apostle of French culture in Canada” born on 17 April 1620 in one of the nearby houses and baptized the same day in the church. She died in Quebec in 1700, was beatified in 1950 and canonized in 1982 as the first female saint of Canada. If you would like to know more about her very interesting life, click here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Bourgeoys
We finally have breakfast looking out onto the main square, with the Town Hall on the left and some of Troyes’ colourful old half-timbered houses on the left.
Our return to the car takes us past the Haute-Seine canal next to the 27-km long 3-meter wide asphalt bike path joining up nine of the surrounding villages. It’s part of a route that will eventually take cyclists to Paris. We regret that we didn’t try it out the previous day.
We discover the very attractive fountain in front of the Préfecture (Troyes is the “capital” of the Aube département, one of France’s 96 administrative divisions).
Oh, and I nearly forgot to say that the old town of Troyes, which is part of the Champagne region, is in the shape of a champagne cork!
Troyes, once a thriving drapery centre, is also known for its outlet stores – McArthur Glen, Marques Avenue and Marques City http://www.troyesmagusine.com/ – which we visited many times in the past until they were developed in the Paris region. However, now that we no longer live in Paris and Jean Michel is retired, our vestimentary requirements have changed and we do our clothes shopping during the sales in nearby Tours.
This post is my August contribution to Lou Messugo’s All About France link-up. For other posts about France, click here.