A toast to Troyes

We are now in the Champagne region of France, and what better place to experience it than Troyes. They like to say that the city is shaped like a Champagne cork, and that’s certainly one way to interpret its interesting outline.

Its history is long and originally Roman. It was an important trading town, and gave its name to Troy weight. It still is an important retail center. For centuries it was the center of stocking manufacture, as well as stained glass. Troyes is also the home of the Lacoste brand, and the city that claims to have invented the outlet store. It is full of them, and attracts all of Europe just to shop.

The Order of the Knights Templar was founded here, and in 1420, the Treaty of Troyes was signed by which Henry V of England was betrothed to Catherine, daughter of Charles VI. The high-water mark of Plantagenet rule in France was reversed when the Dauphin, afterwards Charles VII, and our Joan of Arc liberated the town of Troyes in 1429. That girl got around.

The town is chock-a-block with 16th century half-timbered buildings – more than we have seen in any one place in France. The churches are magnificent and the streets are incredibly picturesque.

And then there was lunch. On a cold rainy, we had the best comfort food at Au Table des Peintures, just off the charming 400-year-old Ruelle des Chats. Wonderful vegetable soup, one of their traditional gratins, and a spectacular lasagna. A perfect lunch.

We went to two museums – one of modern art and the other dedicated to the history of the city and particularly its stocking-making past.

This is a vibrant and historic city, which – rain or shine – was really worth a visit.

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