In contrast to the mass transit big city experience we’d had last weekend, yesterday we rented a car and took Maureen for a drive in the countryside just north of Lyon.
Our first stop was only thirty kilometers away but 1,000 years back in time.
The medieval city of Pérouges has been so well preserved, it was like walking onto a movie set. In fact, there have been several movie scenes shot here.
Think stones, stones and more stones. Roses and other flowering vines softened the effect and although it has been touted as one of the most charming towns in France, for me Pérouges revealed how harsh and paranoid the middle ages actually were.
It wasn’t pretty back then, people.
Okay well…it is sort of quaint and charming now. Ironically, it was very non medieval when it came to the utilities. The town has not only been modernized, but you can’t even see any ugly power lines and never do you smell leaky sewage pipes.
Sugary gallettes are Pérouges’ specialty. They were made fresh right before our eyes.
I would’ve gotten one or three but the romance was ruined when I glanced at the prices. My Sweet Tooth, although mighty, lost the fight with my Common Sense and we decided to find a meal without the scary tourist prices.
We ended up having the best meal that I’ve had so far in France.
It was at La Petite Auberge in Trévoux. The service, the food, the price – what a wonderful experience. We will try and arrange to stop at this town again when we travel just to eat at this restaurant.
It is also cherry season here. Mixed amongst the vineyards were beautiful cherry trees overloaded with fruit. We stopped and got some at a roadside stand and they were promptly eaten. Every last one. We had to stop and get another tray to take home.
Next was a winery visit, but not just any winery; we were looking for the winemaking uncle of a Wisconsin winemaker, Philippe Coquard. Philippe and his wife own and manage the Wollersheim Winery which was started the same year that Maureen and her husband, the late John McCain, founded the Three Lakes Winery.
Turns out Philippe has several relatives in these parts, and many of them are winemakers! The first Coquard winery we came to was not the uncle’s – but they were extremely hospitable and offered some lovely wines. The “sampling room” was a barrel roofed cave underneath their house.
Traveling over hill and dale, looking for the elusive Uncle Coquard, eating cherries and stopping for pictures along the way – was a pretty nice way to spend the afternoon.
We found him, by the way.
It was at the end of the day so all of us waited in the car while Mark went inside to hunt him down. Uncle Jean, who spoke less English than we do French – ha!, ended up presenting us with a bottle of his Beaujolais wine and kindly poised for a photograph.
This was really a delightful day trip into the countryside. There will be more to come…