Our Barge, Odysseus

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Touring the Countryside - Aug. 11-15

When we were in Tournus before our trip to the Seille, we had moored on a pontoon south of the city's main bridge. Stays there are limited to 2 nights. On the north quay, however, stays of up to three weeks are allowed and, if you know where to look and get there early enough, free power is available. We satisfied both criteria when we arrived Wednesday afternoon so we decided to take advantage of the situation, rent a car for three days and tour the Maconnais, home of the Burgundian white "noble grape," chardonnay.
Since there were no car rentals offered in Tournus, we took the half hour train ride south to Macon and picked up a car at the train station. Off we went in our Peugeot 107.
Our first stop was the Roche de Solutre, what the Michelin Guide calls a "true emblem of southern Maconnais…that can be seen from miles away. The superb limestone escarpment, with its slender outline and sphinx's profile, is one of the major prehistoric sites in France." It positively called out for a climb.

From the top of the rock you look down on the villages of Pouilly and Fuisse, which give their names to very fine white wines.

We wound our way through the vineyards following one part of the Burgundy Wine Road; the villages of Verze, Ige and Aze. We had hoped to find a restaurant for lunch but hadn't had any luck. We did find an open boulangerie, however, and after buying a baguette, asked the woman behind the counter if there was a restaurant nearby. "Ma oui!," was the reply and we were directed to La Dirose in the nearby village of Serrieres.
Those of you longtime readers may remember the 11 euro lunch on the Marne River three years ago. This was another one of those: three courses with wine included for 11 euro 50. The "menu du jour" began with a terrine du mason, a sort of cold homemade meatloaf. Usually your plate arrives with a slice of the terrine, a salad and some cornichons, small, sour dill pickles. At Dirose, we got the whole loaf pan with a knife stuck in the middle; serve yourself! It was followed by a fish stew (it was Friday, after all), and desert, all washed down with a delicious local white wine dispensed into the bottle from a tapped barrel. We waddled back to the car.
The days touring concluded with a stop at Brancion, a feudal market town. The day was gray and overcast, not great for pictures and it had been a pretty long day already. We just wandered through the village, but since it was just 20 minutes from Tournus and the weather was supposed to improve, we decided to come back on Sunday.
Saturday was a beautiful day so we used the opportunity to travel to Lac du Bourgé, France's largest natural freshwater lake. It gave Cathy Jo a chance to dip her toes in some really clear, cool water.

And off in the distance, the Alps.

Sunday morning we used the car for a serious grocery shopping and then headed off again.

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