Four days in Northern France and West Belgium

Malika and Alex leave Lausanne.

We drive along a wonderful road in the mountains and the forests, between Divonne and Dijon (Franche-Comté).
Stop for the night at Troyes.

Visit of Troyes: a magnificent town, with unique buildings ("colombages" houses), narrow streets, the beautiful cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Paul (XIII century): it's worth the stop.
(Troyes: Town official website, More informations)
In the streets of the center we can eat a lot of delicious "crèpes au sarrasin".
Beer shop: "L'Echoppe à Bières" (only 130 beers from Belgium for this recent beershop, but the owner is very kind).

On the way to Lille, stop at Reims, where we can see the "Porte Mars" (Gallo-Roman ark built in the 3rd century), 
Beer shop: "La Maison de la Bière" (av. de Laon 195, 03-26500337,about 300 beers from Belgium, France and Germany).
Stop for the night in Lille.
Dinner in the brewpub "Les 3 brasseurs", where we have 4 ales not worth to mention and food of poor quality.

(Alex's birthday)
Visit of Lille, where we appreciate the nice central square.
We have a wonderful breakfast at Paul's.
Beer shop: "Vinothèque Rohart" (rue Faidherbe 66, 051-222188,a few belgian and french beers).
We continue our journey to Tournai (Belgium); a cosy town, with a nice square and imponent cathedral.
     (picture of the central square)
Beer shop: "Le Moine Austere" (rue Dorez 8, 069-229004,about 300 beers).
We have a superb gastronomic dinner at "Le Pressoir".
We get a lovely room in Mont St. Aubert, with a panoramic view on the valley and Tournai.
   (panoramic view from the chamber)


Not for everyone! we leave Tournai to Westvleteren
(for the few that don't know: the abbey of St. Sixtus in Westvleteren it's the only trappist abbey that doesn't market its beer; if you want to taste their beer or buy a few bottles, you have to go there and wait to be served directly by a monk).

   (the abbey simbol)
There are many rumors about their low brewing activity: they sell only when they have the need, and they sell only by packs of 24, from 10 to 12 and from 14 to 17, not on Fridays, Sundays and holidays. If you want to know if they're selling in the next days, call the n. 057 401057 (Flemish and French message).
Outside these blessed days, but on Fridays, you can buy the three beers in the shop/pub in front of the abbey (owned by the monks) but they are more expensive.
  The traditional 24-pack:     and the abbey, in the middle of nowhere:

After tasting a "12" and a "Blond" on place, 
(click to appreciate the full glasses)    we leave Westvleteren for Roeselare, the town of Rodenbach brewery.
Beershop: "Streekbieren Yves" (O.-L.-Vrouwmarkt 1, 051-222188, just a step below paradise: 600 beers! and many are craft brewed; here Alex has his birthday expensive present).
We go back to France; stop in Lille for the last shopping, then to Reims for the night.

A quick visit to the Notredame cathedral, with more than 18 centuries of history: here, for about 10 centuries, the kings of France were crowned:

Reims is the town of the champagne, and in the morning we visit the Pommery cellars.
(have a look at the pommery estate)  
The company exists since the first half of the 19th century when, to produce, store and protect their bottles they digged 18 kilometres of tunnels/cellars 30 metres deep in the ground (!).
The temperature there is constantly between 10 and 12°C and they can store 25 million bottles.
(this cask is 5 meters high, and you will find it in the hall of the manor)

The holiday is getting to the end, and we just have to enjoy the final part of the road, again among forests and mountains.
(pictures in the mountains)
A review on Eastern France:

Still to come: the complete list of bought beers...