LAON is a perfect stopover if you don't want to kill yourself rusing for the Calai ferries - and incur a hefty speeding fine in the process. We knew Laon but hadn't stayed in this hotel the last time. The entrance was as hotels used to be 30 years ago, but the young owner gave us the room on the second floor which he had just renovated. From the colour scheme to the bathroom, everything was well thought out, not flashy but modern and fresh, and a lot of love had gone into details. Fabulous views from the window over the ramparts and the vast countryside. He was working on the third floor and I'm looking forward to the rest of the hotel to look like this soon. He obviously inherited a very dated place, so the first floor is not yet there. The breakfast which we took in our room was enough to feed us for the day - lovely.
At night we dined at the Bannière de France nearby where we had stayed in more expensive rooms before. The dinner was copious very well presented and prepared, even though we ate from the menu du jour.
In the last twenty years Laon seems to have had a very hard time. There is much property for sale - anyone tempted to buy, I was told by the locals, she heed this warning - any owmer is also responsible for what happens in the rocks and the three levels of cellars dug into it - and the rocks are apparently in a poor state. This town, more than any I have visited recently, would fully deserve to have a large injection of money in order to halt the deterioration. It was the seat of the French king in the 14th century, so it is very deserving. So - Europe cultural heritage bankers, get your purse out.
WATCH OUT THOUGH Directly opposite the fabulous cathedral portal is a café by the name of BRASSERIE du PARVIS. We simply wanted a slice of apple cake and a coffee and they charged us over £15, because they had put a dollop of ice cream with the cake. Outrageous and exploitative. True the view is worth something, but not this exorbitant price.
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