Our Barge, Odysseus

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arrival at St. Symphorien sur Saone, May 15

The boat, other than being really dirty on the outside, was in great shape when we arrived. Peter, the port captain, very efficiently hooked up our electricity, we unpacked the sheets and blankets from their winter storage and moved in for the summer. We had made a quick stop at the grocery on the way to the boat as it was Saturday afternoon and all would be closed on Sunday, so we had a nice dinner and continued the jet lag recovery process.
Sunday was anything but a day of rest; it took us all day to clean the outside of the boat and we wore out a scrub brush on the deck paint in the process, but, once cleaned, Odysseus looked great. Very little work would be required to make her cruise ready.
By the weekend we were ready for a little R and R. We would be returning the car to Dijon on Tuesday so on Sunday we decided to do a little touring around the area.

We are right on the border between the Departments of Burgundy and Jura. Part of the Jura is Alsace, home of great white wines, comte cheese and the foothills of the Swiss Alps. We made a day of it, circling through the town of Poligny, which they refer to as "Capitale du Gruyere de Comte," and Arbois, home of the famous "Vin Jaune." In between, we visited the "Cascades du Herisson," a series of six waterfalls stretched over 3 kilometers of the Herisson River. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the scene reminded us somewhat of Yosemite National Park on a beautiful summer day. Not exactly wilderness. We think we were there with most of France … and their kids.

At the top of the Cascades.

The last of the Cascades. French "wilderness."

Wee stee tee!

We saw a sign leading to the "Belvedere de Chatelaine" (Belvedere is viewpoint) and bypassed it 'til we went through a small tunnel and saw some great views. We backtracked to the village, walked about a half mile up a trail and got a great view of the village of Chatelaine.

After that, a stop in a wine shop in Arbois for a little tasting and the purchase of a bottle of the famous vin jaune.
From the Michelin Guide to the Wine Regions of France:
"The unique vin jaune, a white wine made exclusively from the Savignin grape, is left to age for six years and three months in 2281 containers, without topping up. In other words, the wine is left to slowly evaporate. In contact with the air, a film of yeast forms on the surface of the wine. This protects it from oxidization and fosters development of the wine's characteristic flavors, which range from fresh walnut to curry. Vin jaune is therefore a very dry wine… Is is aged in a special bottle, known as a clavelin, which contains just 62cl.

Vin jaune

We were moderate in our tasting and arrived back at St. Symphorien safely for dinnertime.

Monday was Pentacost Monday; almost all of the stores were closed but, as we were returning the car Tuesday morning, we thought we would take all of our laundry into nearby St. Jean du Losne to the laundromat. Of course it was "en panne," out of order, and locked up. Oh well, more laundry by hand, but since we're in town we might as well at least get some bread. The St. Jean du Losne boulangerie, our favorite, is closed Mondays so we went to the one across the river in Losne. Out of bread, more in twenty minutes says the helpful clerk. We walked back across the river to St. Jean, had a coffee in one of the waterfront cafes and returned to the boulangerie. Still no bread. Nuts! Oh well, the Casino supermarket will be open till noon. No bread. The Colruyt (kind of a down-market Costco) is open. Surely they will have a loaf or two. No bread. C'est une catastrophe!!!!! We slunk back to the boat breadless and spent the day aboard our laundry-festooned boat.

Tuesday we returned the car to the train station in Dijon, enjoyed our first full-on French lunch of the summer at a bistro across from the excellent Dijon covered market, took the train back to St. Jean where the ever-helpful port captain Peter picked us up and delivered us back to Odysseus. We would spend Wednesday making our final preparation and be underway Thursday morning.

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