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July 12-14, 2014

Although the Hermod was supposed to finish the trip up the Rhone just South of Beaune, weather imposed its will and a deluge of rain led to rising waters and made it impossible to cross under many bridges between Lyon and Chalon. So, instead, the Viking crew arranged for a one hour bus ride North to Beaune, a leisurely walk through that wonderful town and of course, a wine tasting. The weekly market was bustling Saturday morning in Beaune and cheese, sausage, mushrooms and truffle offerings were almost too tantalizing for words.

We even met a border collie that was a trained truffle dog, who wanders the forests with his master and identifies the cherished fungi.

The wine tasting introduced the group to a number of pinot noir reds which are the hallmark of Burgundy.

Then, when everyone else visited the Hotel Dieu, a 14th century hospital founded by a local Beaune aristocrat who believed that the poor deserved as good health care as the rich! Novel idea, huh? Anyway, we had toured the Hotel Dieu when we were here 4 years ago, so, instead, we did what? Yes, we snuck off to another wine cave and tasted another ten fine wines that have made Burgundy the capital of the French wine world. Then. It was back on the bus to the ship in Lyon.

Our last dinner aboard was phenomenal. We started with escargot en croute, followed by deconstructed Beef Wellington. The Viking chef is really remarkable. He has been able to combine creativity in both taste and presentation.

As has been said before, all things must come to an end. So it was with our cruise up the Rhone river. Our trip with Marsha and Bill Adler was filled with laughter, cultural insights, plenty of wine and food and new friends. The intimacy of a small ship like the Viking Hermod with 120 guests lends itself to interaction, shared breakfast, lunch and dinner tables with stories of past experiences from different perspectives. All told, it was a luxury cruise through lands and landscapes that fascinated and inspired as well as inebriated our senses.

We departed the Hermod on Sunday afternoon and taxied to our temporary home here in Lyon called Grange De Fourviere. It’s a small B&B in one of the older buildings, at least the 1600s, overlooking the Soane river, The proprietor, Catherine Schilling, rents out two rooms in her apartment, each with a modern bath.

We immediately dropped off our bags and walked a short way to one of the most quaint, little neighborhoods we’ve ever seen. This section of Lyon dates back to the 14th century, has streets so narrow only donkey pulled carts could possibly walk it and, yes, all the streets and passageways are cobble stone. We bring that up for one reason only. Dick expressed in no uncertain terms both his appreciation for the cobbles and his distain for them at the same time. Sure they convey a bygone era of antiquity that brings romance to the walk, but they are the bane of the existence of one with an artificial leg. As he has learned long ago, bitching about it will not improve it, so the walk was slow but not abandoned.

In every direction there are secret passageways leading into shadowy darkness, and, specialty shops and restaurants with their shingle out above their outdoor tables. There were plenty of pedestrians on Sunday because this is a long holiday weekend featuring Bastille Day on Monday. So, family and friends were out in force making the neighborhood a bustling place. We stopped to sip some wine, weathered a short rain shower, then kept going until one of the eateries inspired.

We sat down in a classic so-called bouchon, which is essentially a little bistro, known for specializing in traditional Lyonnaise dishes. The chef’s signature dish is duck which is one of our favorites. But, first we were treated to some escargot, tender snails cooked in butter and oil with herbs. Then, the leg of duck was served with scalloped potatoes topped with wild mushrooms. We detected the chanterelles, but the others had never crossed our lips. It was exquisite.

Lyon is propitiously located right between the regions of Cotes du Rhone and Burgundy. Straddling these two prolific wine producing regions can lead to a bi-polar disorder. Happily, we both have avoided the dreadful diagnosis by simply ordering both wines.

After a good night’s sleep, we were treated to a lovely breakfast here at the Grange. The other guests who were from Belgium joined us and, of course, they spoke perfect English having lived in Philly for several years. Both work in the biotech industry concentrating on developing vaccines for the next pandemic. Very appetizing discussion!

After breakfast we boarded a double decker bus to tour around the city and take in the panoramic sights. We again visited the Basilica of Notre-Dame De Fourviere. The view from the hill top. overlooking the city of two rivers, was stunning. Of course, the Basilica is a dramatic architectural structure with fabulous mosaic art depicted on every wall.

True to our heritage, we stopped for a bite to eat and discovered on the menu Tuna Tartare and Salmon Tartare. Having never met a raw fish we didn’t like we ordered both and can only say that the salmon just might be a featured first course at a future Gourmeight dinner….you know who you are.

Tonight, we go to one of Paul Bocusi’s brasseries that specializes in Northern French cuisine. Then, at 10:30, fireworks are expected as the French celebrate Madame Defarge’s most prolific day of knitting…..Bastille Day.

 Marsha just sent us a picture she took from the window of the Louvre in Paris, of the French military celebrating Bastille Day.

Reader Comments (1)

We are waiting for the post that informs us that if we want to see you both again we should book a trip to Italy or France. Your descriptions become more eloquent with each day that is filled with wine, cuisine, friends made and history. We're thinking that if you do return, Chica might be trained to bark upon finding elusive truffles or that special bottle of wine.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdn Peggy

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