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Beaujolais and Vienne, wine and Romans

We continue with our Colors of Provence series. Here's what you've missed so far:

Silkly smooth morning

Today we head North up the Soane river into Beujolais country. We happened to sleep late today and missed breakfast (the consequence of jet lag). No worries, there's always a croissant or two available to eat. That morning there was a well attended silt talk and demonstration. Silk screening was very important to this part of France. If there's a lot of colors (more than 15), silk screening is prohibitively expensive and they use ink jet printing process.

Oignt - but not like a pig

After lunch we take a 45 minute bus ride to the small town of Oigns. On route we passed the famous 3 michelin star restaurant of Paul Bocuse.  While we ate at his school upon arrival, he grew up in Collonges and that’s where his restaurant is located.  The restaurant has maintained 3 stars since 1965, the longest of any other restaurant in the world. Only classic french food is served.  Fixed price menu is 275 Euro per person; add on 80 E per person with wine.

Oingt with Susan Wolfson
Typical street in medieval Oingt

The beaujolais region is made up of three areas - the blue area (by the Soane river) the red area (wth most of the wine production) and green area (the steeper mountains).  As we drive through the small towns, rolling hills and very green farmland, we pass many small crosses in the roads, these mark the beginning of a new town or parish, an established tradition since the 1500’s.  We also learn about the geological history of the region and why most of the original structures are in golden stone.  

We do a short tour of the small historic and picturesque town of Oingt.  The original church is from the 11the century and there’s a round keep from the 12th century.  The main street is called Rue Cousi Jarret, meaning cut calf street (as in the calf of a horse). As this was a dangerous job of the medieval military, we think the street name really means dangerous street.  Perhaps it’s steep slope was dangerous to walk through. Typical medieval story handed down the ages.

Monsieur Pare's wine

Beaujolais with Go Astro Travel
Tasting Beaujolais wine in Beaujolais country

Next we headed through the hills to a vineyard to Monsieur Pare’s winery.  This organic vineyard has been in the same family for 400 years, 16 generations.  After he told us the proper way to sample the wine, we tried a white and 2 red beaujolais wines.  This appellation is not allowed to water the plants and all harvesting must be done by hand.  It's a quick tour of the winery and an enjoyable tasting.

After another fabulous AmaWaterways dinner, we talked for a bit, played some chess and called it a night.


Roman Temple in Vienne visited by Thomas Jefferson

 Musee Lapidaire
Musee Lapidaire interior

Our morning tour the next day starting at 9:15 centered on the small town of Vienne France and highlighted Roman ruins. After seeing some ancient Roman wall ruins we toured the main Cathedral. (12 - 14th century).  Part was built in Romanesque style but when the new government came to power, it was extended in Gothic style - taking 400 years to build overall. We also saw well preserved Roman temple to Augustus and Livia (circa 1st century).  We then took a tram to the top of the steep mountain where we had a great view of the Rhone Valley. Below us was a huge outdoor Roman theatre which originally held 11,000 people. We next toured the rest of town including the town hall, the Roman Forum and the Musee Lapidaire.  The museum is housed in an old church (circa 6th century) and houses an extraordinary collection of Roman Antiquities.

At 3 pm we attended a wine seminar.  It was fun and involved smelling, tasting, quizzes and map reading. Lots of tasting. Later in the day, we enjoyed a snack up on deck as the sun finally came out.  Watching as we navigate through the lock is engaging. Next is a cocktail reception for returning guests, then the regular cocktail hour, then dinner.

Next - Tournon

Touron by night - Go Astro Travel
Touron by night

After dinner we took a little walk around the town of Tournon where we had just docked.  It was Sunday night so the town was very quiet.  Still, it was nice to walk after dinner and get a sense of what was in store the next day.

Next: Touron and Avignon