After my long treacherous walk yesterday, I arrived back at my accommodation exhausted with tired feet and muddy boots looking like a hobo.
Not quite the look to be staying in such an establishment and especially when I had chosen the completely white room to spend the night in.
Michel the manager and his two dogs greeted me at the front door as I fumbled with the mud soaked zippers of my boots and padded inside to the spectacular residence.
Although I had discovered Maison Stella Cadente a couple of years ago and dreamed of staying there, it was a little above my budget but as fate would have it, everywhere else was booked out and in the end I decided to hang the expense and so glad I did.
It was the perfect ending to an exhausting day.
Michel’s response to my question as to whether he had wi-fi was, yes would you like a glass or a bottle. I corrected myself, wee-fee, argh he says, I understood wine but what a great idea.
Of course only white was available, maybe he didn’t trust me with red wine in a room with white carpet, a white rabbit skin rug draped on the bed and cuddly white polar bears keeping a watchful eye on me.
I was staying in no other than their Chambre Reine des Neiges, the Snow Queen Room.
Stella Cadente, a designer bought the mansion in disrepair and renovated it to its former glory with a modern and quirky touch.
The attention to detail in the compact yet luxurious room was delightful and I was so excited to be staying here.
Mesmerised, I sunk back onto the comfortable bed covered in a fur rug and watched the four spot lights in each corner of the room bounce off light and shadows from the glass beads that are attached to the ceiling and walls, changing colour from pink, aqua, green and blue, sipping on my white wine.
Barely able to steal myself away from my gorgeous room, I headed down to the lower town for a delicious meal and an interesting evening at the nearby Les Bistrophiles restaurant.
Not long after I arrived, sitting on the long lonely person’s table surrounded by local families in the small restaurant another solo diner was placed beside me and strikes up conversation.
This has the entire restaurant watching me struggle with my French to answer his questions, which I didn’t do too badly with, where are you from, are you here on holiday, how long is the flight but each and every time, one table in particular, would openly turn around and stare at us, waiting for my answers.
After a couple of wines and a dose of dutch courage, I ask the waitress; comment dit on en francais ‘to stare’ – how do you say to stare in French.
And like magic, the desired effect took place, everyone averted their eyes elsewhere and we were able to continue our conversation without their piercing eyes upon us. Ha ha, naughty but fun.
After a wonderful nights sleep, a delicious breakfast and permission granted to take a few photos of the premises, it was time to explore the lower town of Provins.
As you can probably imagine, I took so many photos that I can’t share them all here but will be sure to share them on facebook next year. Pretty as a picture and the day turned out to be such a magnificent day with beautiful blue skies that I ended up retracing some of my steps and making the dreaded walk up the hill to the high town again because it would be a crying shame not to with such gorgeous weather in the winter.
After quietly strolling around, soaking up the atmosphere of both the upper and lower town of Provins, stumbling across a market and stopping for a bite to eat, where the darling café owner rushed to the market to buy a fresh baguette for my lunch, I had one more thing to do before I caught the train back to Paris.
And that was to visit the belly of Provins; Les Souterrains, the historic passages that lie deep below the city.
It was important that I booked a tour before leaving for Paris, they only allow small groups at a time by way of an organised tour and I was so glad that I had secured a ticket.
The tours are only in French but it is the only way to gain access.
Hello, I have a ticket, I offer the woman at the check in counter. What I heard next was hello – blah blah blah. I reply in French, my most practiced phrase, I am sorry, I don’t understand.
In words I do understand, in English she replies, wait over there for your tour guide, you know that the tour is only in French. I shrug, I want to tell her that I realise this, but what else can a girl do when she wants to take a look and this is the only way but instead I reply in French, yes, I understand thank you madam.
And so the tour begins, a very long and no doubt informative introduction. I hear a couple of words that I understand.
The children in the group begin to fidget and so too does a woman standing in front of me, in fact she is constantly fidgeting. People turn around to look at me, suspecting it must be the only non-French speaking person in the group but they see it is her.
She huffs and puffs, walks around unsteadily with the soil crunching under her feet, distracting others. I think she may have had too much wine at lunch.
They turn again.
Eventually she is left behind and we begin our journey.
I hear champagne, brie and then a lot I don’t understand and then … ooohh! from the group. They have been told something that really surprises them, and I let out an almost silent urgh as my shoulders drop.
I then see pointing to a niche and I notice black stains above. This must be where they put candles to light up the tunnels. I then understand constant temperature.
A bit of common sense and research I can tell you that the tunnels is where wine, champagne and cheese were kept well because of the constant temperature.
The graffiti shows where some merchants stored their wine and kept a ledger upon the walls.
So, ok, I didn’t learn much but I did get a chance to walk through the 800 year old tunnels, or was that 8,000 year old tunnels, just kidding. But overall, it was a good experience and now it was time to go home to Paris.
And what everyone found fascinating about the ceiling that had them all gasping will remain a mystery for me that will stay in Provins with my deliciously completely white bedroom.
As I reached the train station, exhausted, my body aching from the heavy weight of the bags and looking forward to returning to Paris, I see my train slowly move away from the platform.
Another one hour wait for the next train was still better than falling in the mud.