25 September 2008

Lesson Number Two...

... which comes after Lesson Number One - don't taste wine & then get on a bicycle! That lesson learned, the next is R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H! Steve & I have been guilty of not researching the region enough so that we would better know what to expect when we got here. Sure, we have a route but there are tiny villages dotted throughout the vineyards & most of them are centuries old with incredibly ancient churches & lavoirs (public bath houses). Our tour itinerary gives us some information about each village but it's all just so wonderful and different from anything we've ever seen before!
Last night we ate dinner at l'Olivier Leflaive in the square of Puligny Montrachet. He is a local, very prolific wine maker & the dinner involved sampling 12 of his wines. It was very interesting to taste the different wines & see how they varied in flavour depending on the region they were grown. All the grapes used in Burgundy are pinot grapes. That is due to a law set down by the Duke of Burgundy in the 14th century that only pinot grapes are to be used when making wines in this region. To be honest, I am not crash hot on the local wines - they are so dry. However, besst to keep that thought under one's hat due to diplomacy!

This is a scene from our ride yesterday where we took the bike bath through the vineyards to the village of Santenay. I stopped & picked some grapes & they certainly tasted better au naturel, so maybe I am a fan of Burgundy pinot after all! The scenery is absolutely beautiful & Steve and I just can't believe how lucky we are. We stopped at the boulangerie & got a ficelle (little baguette) for our lunch, together with some ham & cheese & watercress (the green factor). Let me just say this, FRANCE IS NO PLACE FOR VEGETARIANS! The paucity of vegetables on our dinner plates is very evident. Where is the broccoli? The beans? Even a brussel sprout! The other night we had something with veggies because I saw one bit of carrot & Steve got a pea, which made me very jealous.

Our favourite type of pitstop... This French holiday has, in itself, been a research project on the public lav. I've seen some interesting examples of sanitation in our few days cycling through the French countryside. This one was one of the best examples, housing a stainless steel, all-in-one unit that automatically lifts & lowers the seat, flushes water everywhere, blows hot air ... even probably plays the national anthem, if I were to hang around long enough afterward! Here's a tip: hang onto your 50c Euros when in France because that's how much it costs to "spend a penny".

Ahhhh.... the grapes. Here they are in all their glory! Plump, juicy & sweet. We saw vineyard after vineyard, with pickers amongst the vines carrying huge bins on their backs which they empty directly onto the back of a truck by climbing a ladder and bending forward. After the pretty little village of Santenay, we rode up, up and up to a tiny village nestled into a fold in the hill to see a 12th century church - and then hooned it all the way back down the hill to the flats of the canal, which was a nice treat because we are getting a little sore. Lesson Number Four - train, train and train! I am quite shocked that even though I can run 21kms, I am having to walk my bike in some areas & poor Steve - well, thank goodness we brought the paracetamol is all I can say.

PS: it's 5.30am Thursday morning & I can't sleep anymore so will just mini-blog here. We are staying in the most gorgeous little hotel in Puligny-Montrachet called "La Chouette" which is run by a Canadian lady who has lived here for 22 years, but who is still not deemed a 'local'. There are some interesting other people staying here from all over Europe. One man, an American tour operator, has two private clients with him - and they are travelling in a van with tinted windows (which I am eyeing off due to the pain we have this morning!). He asked to borrow our bike chain on Tuesday night & then, when he gave it back to me, he gave me 5 euros & refused to hear otherwise. How odd!! I guess he must be used to tipping everywhere & now it's a natural reflex action. Last night, in seach of veggies, we went to the local bar where there was not one tourist but many harvesters drinking beers & playing table soccer. It was really good & we had the most amazing beef fondue, where we poached lumps of the most tender beef in a hot wine stock. Yes! There was SOME semblance of greenery - a lovely leaf salad - and les pommes frites of course. My co-worker's husband would be in chip heaven here.

I have tried to email some of you but don't seem to be able to. Yes, I realise it was despicable of me to leave Claude behind in Paris but how are we to know that he didn't purposefully hide himself? Also, do you think LillyP is okay? The dogs here in France are seriously aloof & have their snouts in the air a little, je pense. It's probably due to their deluxe lifestyle - they go to restaurants & go shopping in department stores... So, there is no rushing forward for a pat, though I did meet a small dog in Paris that wouldn't stop sniffing my feet. And there are no beagles either.

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Anonymous said...

Hello you guys well you cerntainly seem to be having fun while I whyle (is that right) away another day at the office, nearly time to go.
LB still in shock over claude, He's worried about his ability to speak the language but then a lamp post is the same no mater what language you speak.
miss your cheery smile

Anonymous said...

Splitting the whisker sure is expensive business.

I would have a 100 Euro a day habit.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jen, Loving your daily tales of you holiday! I love reading about burgundy! Was the hotel you stayed at an old abbey on the rue maziers?? have you eaten at petit paridis yet?? keep those legs pumping!!! leigh xo