I did take the laptop on holiday, but even though I had good intentions about finding a WiFi hotspot, in the end I just wrote up one bit of a diary to cover the first week we were away.
Here it is;
Sat 24th July
So, in the absence of any local networks I can connect to from here, I am going to write up the last week as a diary. There is a Wi Fi spot in a local bar, La Vieille Auberge, but I’ll need to ask them for the password and buy a drink while I am there.
The First Week.
We set out last Friday morning, on the 16th, at around 5 am and got to the Channel Tunnel terminus early enough to get an earlier train across to France. Once in France, Nicky took over the driving and we headed off towards Reims, where we had a hotel booked for the night.
We had a pretty decent meal in a brasserie called Les Trois Brasseurs, which we had eaten in before. They are part of a chain that started out in north-eastern France and they brew beer on site, and it is pretty decent stuff too.
We found Oingt fairly easily, once we got past the outskirts of Villefranche-sur-Saône. As an aside, I wouldn’t really bother with visiting Villefranche, it is just a dull town. There is one oldish street, the Rue Nationale, but the rest is pretty ordinary. There is a decent Leclerc supermarche on the outskirts, in Gleizé though.
We decided to eat fairly simply while on holiday, lots of cheese, charcuterie, sausages, tomatoes and salad, bread and plain grilled meats or roast poultry – with plenty of wine, of course.
So far, the kind of things we have eaten include a roast chicken with salad, veal chops and ratatouille, pork chops with salad and frites (oven chips from Leclerc but really nice), rare bavette and salad and a lot of cheese, jambon persillée and Rosette de Lyon, a lovely local saucisson sec.
On Monday, we drove around to get to grips with the area, but being Monday, everything was shut. On Tuesday, we drove north to Buxy to stock up on Côte Chalonnaise AOC Bourgogne wines from the Cave de Buxy and we also bought some Beaujolais Cru wines (three each of St Amour, Chiroubles, Chenas, Julienas, Moulin a Vent and Fleurie) from the Cave des Producteurs in Julienas.
We are lucky to be staying in a real Beaujolais wine village, with vines all around and a lot of local producers, including M. Pascal Guillard, who is a relative of the gite owner and who has his cave next door to the gite. His Beaujolais rouge, Domaine la Guillardière, is excellent stuff, typical Gamay and not as thin as some basic AOC Beaujolais can be. He also produces some gorgeous demi-sec rosé and rouge petillant wines, which we tasted on Thursday when we visited the cave and saw his collection of old cars, bikes and agricultural vehicles. He also produces a nice Beaujolais blanc, from Chardonnay, a wine you don’t often find in the UK. It is a light, dry wine, a bit like a basic Chablis, and good with seafood or as an aperitif.
After tasting and buying some wine, M. Guillard took us to a local crêperie and bar for an aperitif, which was huge fun. After that, Thursday afternoon was a bit of a blur, seeing as we polished off a bottle of his wine with lunch.
It was nice to have a lazy one though, because on the day before, Wednesday, we had had a long expedition south on the A7 to the Drôme Provençale, south of Montélimar. We went down there to buy wine and olives and we visited Grignan (which I have written about before), Saint-Pantaléon-les-Vignes, Nyons (for olives and olive oil) and Vinsobres. We bought mainly red wines to take home, full-bodied Côtes du Rhône Villages wines (although Vinsobres has its own AOC) made from Grenache and Syrah, plus some lighter reds to drink while we are on holiday, and a couple of bottles of Côtes du Rhône blanc, made from Grenache blanc and Viognier, also to drink here.
Friday was a wet day, overcast all day and with sudden downpours, which meant that we stayed around the gite for most of the day, except for a shopping trip to Le Bois d’Oingt, our local town, to buy some meat, bread and milk. We bought a Saucisse de Lyon aux Pistaches, which we will cook on Monday. It should be interesting. It looks like something I’d have roasted, but the instructions are to poach it in water for about half an hour.
Seeing as it was wet, we had the chance to see Mark Cavendish take the stage win in Bordeaux, he won by a long way and seems a good candidate to take the win in Paris on Sunday.
I also finished reading China Miéville’s excellent The City and The City, a book that I cannot recommend highly enough. A long way from his New Crobuzon novels, which I love, this is a completely different type of novel, complex, well-written and with a truly stunning plot. It shows that Miéville is a writer to be taken seriously rather than just another author of epic steam-punk Science fiction.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I shall try and update this diary later on. We are off to have a look at a festival of water colour paintings in a neighbouring village later on.
Just back home after a nice day out. We visited the watercolour festival at Bagnols, which is a beautiful village, looked over the paintings and then decided to head west to the Loire, which runs north from the southern Massif Central along the western edge of the Beaujolais and Burgundy regions.
The area we are staying in is very beautiful, more hilly than the Burgundy region to the north and quite heavily forested when it isn’t a sea of vines. Where we are staying is known as Les Monts des Pierres Dorées, because it is characterised by beautiful golden stone, which all the old village houses are made from.
Further west, towards the Forez, the landscape becomes more like the Auvergne and is very hilly and covered in dense pine forests. Some of the roads are quire hair-raising and even if you are going downhill at 50+ mph some local will want to overtake you, generally just before a scary left-hand bend!
We visited Roanne, which is a pleasant town, but not really that special, but at least we can say that in the same holiday we have crossed the Seine, Saône, Rhône and Loire rivers.
When we got back to Oingt, we were flagged down by a procession of young local blokes. One is getting married next month and tonight is his stag party. We were invited to smack his (naked) bottom and exchange kisses, in return for a glass of white wine. So, what else could we have done except for obliging him! Funnily enough, his party this evening is in M. Guillard’s wine cave.
I dare say that we shall be able to play music quite loud tonight and stay up late without disturbing the neighbours.
Anyway, I have chilled white wine to drink now, the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 CD playing and some crevettes roses to eat before dinner, which will be roasted duck leg (chicken leg for Nicky), a mixed salad and some more of Leclerc’s excellent frozen potato products, followed by a couple of tartes aux fraises for pudding.
I’ll come back and post more about our holiday later, once I have all the photos uploaded too.