Sunday, May 13, 2018

Side trips from Pont De Vaux

It's the middle of April and we have only just arrived at the boat in its winter mooring at a Pont de Vaux. We have started cruising later this year because the weather has been pretty cold, with lots of rain. As we will be cruising on the SaƓne and Rhone and both have been in flood, we have had to wait till both of them are at reasonable levels and speed.
artichokes are in season and they are massive 
While in Pont de Vaux, we have taken advantage of having the car to do a few trips out into the countryside. We had heard that the market in Louhans was very big and it was a typical farmers market. Normally that means lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and artisan products. But this was literally a farmers market, with small animals for sale as well. While most of the livestock was poultry there were a few lambs, kids and a number of rabbits and hares. The famous Bresse chicken was also being sold by a number of stalls - not exactly the cheapest but James Martin, the chef from UKs Saturday Kitchen, says the extra price is worth it. We will take his word for it!
Bresse chickens
just a few quails
Louhans itself is a typical medieval village and being in Burgundy has a lovely tiled roof on the church.
typical burgundian tiled roof
After wandering around the market we then drove to Cuisery. The high street of this town was dying so some local volunteers decided to market the town as a centre for books, where such crafts as printing, bookbinding and restoration of books could be carried out in the empty shops. They also have a book market once a month. It was a Monday when we visited and the town still didn't look very prosperous but, typically, a lot of shops shut on Mondays.
Cuisery - centre of books
shops dedicated to all things books
We had grabbed some food from the market in Louhans so scrabbled together lunch to eat on the banks of the Seille river.
tranquil lunch spot
The "cheese" tower gives you a good view of town of Cluny
original stone work reveals the massive size of Cluny abbey
picturesque main street in Cluny
We also visited Cluny in southern Burgundy, a well known pilgrimage town and an equestrian centre. Cluny has grown up around its Benedictine abbey founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910. The height of the abbey's influence was from the second half of the 10th century through the early 12th. The abbey was sacked by the Huguenots in 1562, and many of its valuable manuscripts were destroyed or removed. Then after the French Revolution many of its buildings were dismantled and the stone used for other building projects through the town. At one time the abbey and its related buildings was the largest in Christian Europe. What we can see today, represents only about 8%of the total size of the Abbey. Cluny also became known as an equestrian centre due to Napoleon choosing this site for his national horse breeding programme. Many equestrian events occur here during the summer.
View through the old gate to the abbey

view of Cluny from the "cheese" tower
tower in the Abbots garden

And, of course, we were in Burgundy so what better place to do a spot of wine tasting. On the way back to the boat we called into a family winery, had some very generous tastings and bought a few cartons as well.
Wine tasting in southern burgundy region
Domaine Fichet