Wanderlust Home and Pet Care
July 31 We rented a very cute barn that had been converted into a home. Gary had to duck when he entered the bedroom. All the lintels are made of wood on the inside and stone on the outside. I selected this AirBnB site as a hub for our travels for the rest of the week. Once again we used roads that were 1 ½ car widths but it was worth it to be in the country with the sounds of the horse neighing, the doves cooing and the occasional rooster belting out “Good Morning” .
Aug 1 Arbois France - We found the Office du Tourisme and the city had a walking map. Not much of the city fortifications remain but we did enjoy a lovely meal and spoke with a French couple that sat next to us. Their English was about as good as our French but we got along. We then bought a bottle of vin jaune - yellow wine. A forgotten barrel of wine was discovered many years ago back in the 1800s. The wine sat in the barrel for 6 yrs and 3 months. It lost 40% of it’s contents but was still delicious. A new creation! This yellow wine has made the area famous. Think of a sherry without the added alcohol and that is yellow wine. It was great with some local comte cheese for a light dinner.
Aug 2 This is all that remains of the Chateau - Chalon which protected the village. The village has a commanding view of the countryside. On our way home Gary discovered a restaurant off the side of the road, outside the village. We had a nice meal on the terrace with a bottle of the local Jura wine.
Aug 3 We drove about 40 minutes to the city of Dole - not the pineapple city! The city wasn’t as “pretty” as some other towns but we enjoyed it’s architecture. We ate what I would call a chicken Kiev without the outside crust. The sauce was killer and then the potatoes were “scalloped” sliced, fried, and served with a cheese dipping sauce. OMG!
Our first region we visited is the Jura
Aug 6 Yvoire France is one of the most beautiful villages (web site: http://les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/ ). The village was crowded with tourist and we had a disappointing lunch so we decided to come back first thing the next morning to take our pictures. Our AirBnb host recommended the local park along the Lake. An orchestra was playing for a wedding reception so we listened to classical music while we drank rose wine, ate a sweet crepe and watched the people enjoying the lake and the afternoon sun.
Aug 7 Nernier France is next door to Yviore. The village was slow to come alive when we arrived at 9:30 - just my pace. I think I prefer the “off the beaten track” villages to the hoards of tourists one must fight to walk around. One thing I have noticed about the French - when walking on the sidewalk, they never give way. It’s like you don’t even exist!
Aug 9 Gary, the children & I visited Annecy France approx. 24 years ago. At that time we didn’t have time to check out the area or the town. Now was our chance. The town was full of tourist enjoying the lake.
Aug 10 One hour away from Annecy is the ski village of Chamonix. We wanted to take the tramway up to Mont Blanc but the mountains were full of clouds. Instead we drove on to the famous ski village. The town had a walking path which we followed. As we walked, the clouds moved off to reveal the glory of the French Alps.
The Rhone - Alp Region
Aug 12 Lyon or as the Romans would have called the city - Lugdunum. We discovered lots of English tourist in the old part of the city along with lots of pubs - go figure. A local came up to us and asked if we were lost? We said we wanted to walk to the Roman ruins. Her response was “if you are courageous enough or just take the funicular”. We chose the funicular but after a tasting menu at Daniel & Denise Bouchon Lyonnais. This restaurant one of twenty bouchons which preserve the traditional recipes. The tasting menu included a dumpling with a crayfish sauce and sweetbreads served with fried potatoes and macaroni and cheese. The meal included 4 different wine which were all exceptional.
Aug 13 As you can see from this picture, our apartment is located on top of a hill, 2 blocks away from this view. We can easily walk to the old town but today is all about the grocery store and the self service laundry.
Aug 14 We drove to the small village of Oingt perched high on a hill surrounded by Beaujolais vineyards. The view was truly amazing. We visited a winery and the wine was very good too so we bought a bottle.
Aug 16 We walked down the Croix Rousse Hill and into Lyon and stumbled on the Hotel de Ville - a beautiful building. We then caught the funiculaire to Fourviere Hill. The Basilique was beautiful inside and out with a wonderful view of the city. Down the hill was the Gallo Romain Musee with a great display of the ancient items found throughout the city. We walked all the way down the hill through the Basilique gardens, had lunch and then continued to the “shopping” area of Lyon. So many beautiful buildings situated between the Saone and Rhone rivers. The dogs were barking when we got home.
Aug 17 We spent the morning in the area of the apartment. We tried to find an unusual garden but it’s only open on Saturdays. We walked to the local mural which was truly amazing. Our fish en papillote lunch was served on a piece of slate and was very tasty - the fries not so much. Unless you pay the big $$$, the french food has been pretty average. If you want to eat like a King - the King must pay.
Briancon in the Hautes-Alps
Aug 19 We arrived into Briancon at noon - just in time to have a gourmet lunch celebration for our 43rd anniversary. We chose the Menu Surprise consisting of 7 small plates. We had: puff pastry filled with creamed cheese, a tuna mousse, shrimp with a tomato jam and tomato water, herb frogs legs, calves liver and quail, a large cheese tray and two desserts. It was glorious. We then rode the town’s gondola to the top to see the view.
Aug 20 Sebastien Vauban was a master military engineer in the late 1600’s He is responsible for the 4 forts located in Briancon which are now a UNESCO site. It was a rainy day but we made the most of what the fortified town had to offer including a great lunch.
Grenoble in the Rhone Alps
Aug 21 We drove to Grenoble to spend the evening with Marci and Andre. It was so nice to see them and catch up on the happenings of their lives.
Aug 22 We spent the day driving 5 hours from Grenoble to Decazeville on the quickest route which took us way south - go figure. There isn’t a highway that would go in a westerly direction. I’m sure we would have seen some wonderful scenery but it would have added at least one hour to the trip. We find that the road is posted at 90 but due to the curves we can’t go 90 which adds to the travel time, hence the reason why we choose the quickest route via the highway.
The Lot region and the villages of Aveyron
Aug 23 The village of Rocamadour (located in the Lot region) received a thousand years of pilgrimage, stopping here before continuing on the Pilgrimage Routes to Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrim would kneel the 216 steps to reach the Black Madonna in the church. The church is built into the rock face of the cliff. A chateaux is located on the top of the cliff. It’s ramparts provided great views of the valley below.
Aug 24 Conques (located in the Aveyron region) is also along one of the many Routes to Santiago de Compostela. The Abbey-church is listed as a UNESCO site due to it’s well preserved tympanum - I had to look up the definition - semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance. The carvings shows the Last Judgement with it’s depiction of the torments in Hell.
Routes to Santiago de Compostela.
Aug 25 The Village of Estaing is also along the Route to Santiago de Compostela. The bridge to the village was built in the 16th century and is a UNESCO site. Estaing has ties to the American Revolution. Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing fought sea battles at the entrance to New York harbour, July 1778 and again with the attempt to retake Savannah from 16 September 1779 to 18 October 1779. He was beheaded during the French Revolution. Charles’ ancestor become the President of France in the late 1970’s. The chateaux which dominates the village belongs to the ex-president’s foundation.
Aug 26 We again make our way back to Magnac Laval to sit 4 Spaniels. This ends our tour of Eastern France. Our time in Eastern France was great. Of course, I love the mountains but I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite as all the villages have their own personality.