2013 France Part 4

Sorry for the long break between posts. I think I’m now about 3 weeks behind, so here is the last of France. Still haven’t sorted my photos. One of these days … [photos now added]

Thursday 1 August
We walked to the village for a baguette – what else – and a couple of other delicacies, had a cup of coffee and walked home.
Then … another deck day! Read, swam and slept.
This eveing we went for drinks upstairs with our hosts, their frinds and our neighbours. Lots of drinks, nibbles and dirty jokes.

Friday 2 August
A very early start (otherwise it wouldn’t have been worthwhile) to catch the train to Marseilles. We walked around the Old Port to Fort St Jean and the Museum of Europe and the Mediterranean. There was some really interesting displays here but we felt we wasted a lot of time because it was poorly laid out with no logical flow to either the displays or the audio guide. As a result we didn’t spend much time in the fort, which I suspect I would have enjoyed more.
We walked back around the port and stopped for lunch. Stu had bouillabaisse and I had chicken poached in cream followed by a raspberry tart that had so many raspberries on it that they kept falling off.
We walked around the area of the old port before catching our train back. Another long, hot day, but not as steep as some.
There’s lots more to see in Marseilles so we may be back one day.

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Saturday 3 August
We were warned that, being another Saturday, the roads would be as bad as last weekend. They weren’t quite as bad but still busy. Luckily we had allowed ourselves all day so had plenty of time. The biggest delay was a toll gate with very poor lane markings so people in the wrong lane were trying to merge. It took us over half an hour to get through.
We mostly stuck to the motorways, though Thomasina TomTom decided to take us off at one point. No idea what was near there, but lots of other people seemed to know (either that or they were all following their GPSs). The traffic was bumper to  bumper.
We turned round and stopped to buy a baguette for lunch. There were none – What? Not to worry. 5 minutes later I walked out with a fresh baguette still hot from the oven.
We followed part of Route Napoleon on the drive to Voiron and to Emile & Ramonde’s, who also have Emile’s Polish niece staying with them which is a good thing because she also speaks quite good English. Some interesting conversations are happening in 3 languages.
We were hoping it would be cooler in the mountains, and it is – but not much.
We went for a walk in the town before dinner, stopped for a drink (or 2) at the bar where Emile used to work, then home for dinner.

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Sunday 4 August
Emile and Raymonde have given us their bed and are sleeping at Raymonde’s daughter’s place. People are so amazing.
After breakfast we went to the Chartreuse Monestary Museum – really interesting and an excellent audio guide explaining the history and lifestyle of the monks and Chartreuse.

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Afterwards we started looking for somewhere to have lunch, but it seemed everyone else was doing the same and all the favourite spots were taken. We eventually found a beautiful spot on the side of the road beside a little creek.

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Everywhere we drove had impossibly beautiful scenery and, despite being in completely the wrong country, Stu kept breaking into “High on a hill lives a lonely goatherd” – fortunately without attempting the yodelling.

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After lunch it was back to Voiron for a tour and tasting at the Chartreuse distillery. We had finished lunch with a drop of Chartreuse elixer on a sugar cube which took my breath away, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t realize there were so many different types and not all so high in alcohol, so I tried a raspberry one which was very sweet but also very nice.

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We took Emile and Raymonde to dinner at a nice restaurant overlooking a lake. Anna didn’t come but despite the language barrier we managed a pretty good conversation.
We had different aperitifs tonight – Cap Corse, Vin de Noix and Suze. I have no idea what these actually are but they were really good so will have to investigate when we get home.
Stu and Emile had friture for their entrees – this was a plate full of tiny little fish staring up at them. They enjoyed but I didn’t even like looking at it.
For mains we had filet grille with pepper sauce (me), which was sadly underdone even after they took it back for a 2nd go, and the others had duck magret, lavaret (some sort of fish) and scallops and all enjoyed it. Stu and I shared a Cafe Gourmand for dessert. We really like these little tasters as you get a bit of several things. The soup de peche was delicious.

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Home for a digestif – a bottle of very sweet bubbles – and bed. If only Fire Com hadn’t called from Rockhampton twice at about 2.30am!

Monday 5 August
Anna took us for a walk around Voiron including the park and the church. Being Monday orning, most of the shops were shut which was a pity as we probably would have spent some money.

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Back home for lunch. Emile had cooked rabbit, which was delicious, and an apple tart which was a little overdone because he took the rubbish out and started talking to someone. The tart had about 5 minutes too long but was still good.
After lunch, my head was spinning from trying to think in French (and perhaps a little from wine) and I had to have a snooze.
Later we went to Grenoble and caught the cable car up to the Bastille for some wonderful views, though a little spoilt by the haze in the mountains. Anna didn’t take too well to the cable car and decided to walk down and wait for us. Rather her than me. It still hasn’t got any cooler.

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Emile, Stu and I walked part way through the tunnles that had been built there, but I baulked at the steps that seemed to disappear into the darkness – must be getting fragile in my old age. Stu tackled the stairs and we met him back on the road.
Back down in the cable car for a walk around Grenoble and home for dinner.

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Raymonde’s daughters visited and we managed a fairly decent conversation, if a bit stilted.

Tuesday 6 August
We left about 9.30 loaded with food and drink from Emile and Raymonde – no way we would starve on our journey. We had no definite plans for where to stop but decided we wanted to get north of Reims and would start looking for somewhere to stay at about 4.00pm.
We got off the motorway and off the main roads. In one small town there was a detour that never seemed to get back on track and sent us through even smaller villages.
Luckily!
We found a Chambre d’hote in a tiny village – so small that it didn’t have a pub or a boulangerie! Who knew there was such a place in France? They had a room but it wasn’t ready so we went for a drive and came back. As we drove away I suddenly realised I’d had the whole conversation in French and hadn’t had to think about it. If only I had another couple of months to spend here, I might actually get good at this.
Picnic dinner and a bottle of the local bubbles and an early night ready for our trip to Belgium tomorrow.

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