Lyon – Painted walls and Secret Passages

Lyon is also known as the gastronomic capital of France, although, having eaten very well at stops along the way, and having spent time in Paris, I wonder about this claim.

so many delicacies to choose from

so many delicacies to choose from

Our guide for the day, being from Lyon, stressed that her city, although the third largest one in France, is actually the second largest if you take in the whole metropolitan area.

Note projector, bottom right corner one

Bottom right corner, note the projector

She led us from the river to a large building with famous characters, mainly from the region, painted on the outside walls at every level. The Lumiere brothers, who invented cinematography in Lyon, are featured, and an image of Paul Bocuse stands at street level in what could almost be a restaurant.P1040682 (640x480)

Because the city, even the old part, is so much larger than our other stops, we had to travel by bus through much of it, but then we stopped to walk through a few traboules (secret passages,) which have been used for centuries as short cuts through private dwellings and were useful during the German occupation for hiding people and goods.


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French Gourmet Delights – Frogs Legs, Snails and Paul Bocuse


Beaujolais and Dombes Regions

Food and wine were on the agenda for our outings on the 26th. Unfortunately we couldn’t do both at once, so, knowing that we would be able to try the wines later, we opted for the snails and frogs legs.

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Enthusiasm for snails??

After the truffle performance from Serge, our snail man was about as inspiring as any old snail in any garden, but he did show us a few tricks for catching them which I will be testing on the vegetable garden when I get back home – note the photos.

Sprinkle crushed grain on a hard surface and lay slatted timber against  it to catch snails

Sprinkle crushed grain on a hard surface and lay slatted timber against it to catch snails

We were put off at the beginning by his attitude when a couple of us ladies enquired about toilet facilities. He really did not want us to use his, and no wonder, it was in his house. The farm (can you call snail production a farm?) has been in production for about five years and making money for the last two years, so we thought he should by now have his facilities properly set up for visitors.


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Ardeches Steam Train

Ardeche and Doux Gorges

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Plants sprout from steep rock face

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Ardeche steam train

Moored near Tournon, we decided to take the easy outing on the Monday holiday and travel by a vintage steam train up to the top of the hills. P1040535 (427x640)Stunning scenery – water rushing below us, greenery clinging to and sprouting from impossibly steep, impervious looking rocks, and the rock formations themselves, begging to be photographed. Several of our group caught bits of grit and smoke in their eyes, hair and any other body parts that happened to be in the way of our engines by-products.

The journey brought back memories of my trips to Kalgoorlie when I was four or five. My uncle was someone important (I never thought to ask what his role was) on a gold mine near Kalgoorlie. I travelled there with my grandparents and my mother, so it must have been during the war years, when dad was away in England. The flying cinders and the smell of the coal fired steam captured it all for me.


Truffle Growing in France


On Sunday I visited the truffle farm and enjoyed not only the tasting, but the performance by Serge and his truffle-hunting dog, Amy, at La Rabassiere at Aurel in the Grignan area.

Amy, a much loved and valuable truffle dog

Amy, a much loved and valuable truffle dog

I thought we’d do a lot of standing, so it was the one time I took my portable chair/walking stick, but they were well organized, with plenty of seating in a tent which was set up on a semi-permanent basis for the visitors. Our guide was part of the charade, rolling her eyes and waving her hands at the dramatic performance and the extravagant wording used by Serge to explain his PASSION for the truffles produced on the 45 acres which were started by his grandmother. She produced 1000 tons per year, his father 150 tons a season, but now Serge can only get about 30 – 50 tons a year. The price has gone up so much though, that he still lives well and his son will take over when Serge retires.

He showed us a sample of a black truffle, about five centimeters across, looking rather like a large dog turd. He handed it around for us to smell after performing a sort of gastronomic drawn-out sniff–left hand holding the truffle to his large nose, then bending his body from the waist and sweeping the truffle ( in the manner of a cavalier waving his hat while bowing to his admired lady) and as his arm extended, his nose appeared to quiver like a dog’s. Guide lady didn’t need to tell us that this demonstrated the depth and strength of aroma to be found in a good quality truffle. It had, in fact been cut in half earlier, so it wasn’t nearly as pungent as I expected.

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Avignon, Pont du Gard and Uzes

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Le Pont D’Avignon

P1040287 (640x480) - CopyPont d’Avignon was worth a photo or two, simply to say we’ve seen it. Avignon seen from the river, with its medieval walls surrounding the papal palace and the town

Vegies but such French panache

Vegies but such French panache

makes another pleasing photo, but otherwise the visit was not very impressive, except for the markets.



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