The past few days have been ones of contrast. On Saturday we went to The Arc de Triomphe races in Paris at Longchamps. In spite of neither of us backing a winner we had a lovely afternoon mixing with an interesting crowd, with people from Quatar, England,Ireland,Italians & of course French. We also enjoyed watching the horses parade & run. There was even a Group 1 Arabian horse race, the horses in that were amazing, beautifully built. That night we met up with our new 'Country Roads of France' tour group. They seem like a good group of people, quite a few Aussies. Our guide Martin has been doing this for over 20 yrs & actually designed this tour originally. As you can imagine he's a very interesting man so we're looking forward to broadening our travel experiences over coming days. Bright & early on Sunday we set off from Paris. The countryside in France is quite different from what we were familiar with in Italy. What we've seen so far reminds me of the English countryside, much more lush looking & huge agriculture areas spread far & wide. Our 1st stop was Troyes, the old part of town reminded me of Chester & York with it's crooked walls & unusual buildings. It's the capital of the Champagne region so we sampled some of the local nectar. From there into Burgundy where we stopped for another sample in Chablis. Before arriving in Dijon for our 2 night stay we detoured to Vezelay where we walked up the beautiful hill village to it's Basilica where legend has it that Mary Magdalene was buried & where Richard the Lionheart set off for the Crusades. Our guide was great filling us in on local history along our way. Dijon is lovely & today Charlie & I have had a great explore round the town. We counted 8 Optical shops here! Pretty amazing as not that big a place. We've been enjoying the change of menu from Italian to French country fare & have tried several of the local dishes.