QC Blog: April 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tournon & Tain L'Hermitage

So much has happened in the last few months. We've had a new addition to our family and he's forever changed who we are. I'll write more about him in another post so I can devote myself properly to the subject.
It seems like eons ago that we went to France. I want to finish writing about our trip (mostly so I'll remember it), so I'll pick it up at Tournon sur Rhone and Tain L'Hermitage.

We finally had a morning of sailing. It was a beautiful day and we had a chance to meet some of our fellow Viking travelers above deck.

We were able to experience going through a lock firsthand. It was actually the 8th one we've been through and we still have 7 more on the trip up the Rhone and down the Saone. It's really impressive how they work. My sister Patty attended a Captain's tour of the Wheelhouse, where you could meet Captain Dario Weber from Belgium. As soon as we saw him, we decided he looked like Moondoggie, and if you don't understand that reference, you're just too young! Sigh!

Our views were of vineyards and funny shaped trees and clear blue water and blue blue skies and of course castles. When we docked it was next to another ship, with about 6 inches of space between them.

Mark and Patty and I went for a walk in the town of Tournon. Chrissie stayed behind, feeling a little under the weather. The shops were closed for lunch, and stayed closed from about 11:00am till almost 2:00pm. There was a statue of Marc Seguin, who invented a Steam Engine and designed a European suspension bridge across the Rhone. We walked toward a huge castle built right into the hillside, where the museum had closed for the season the week before. The castle was built between the 14th and 16th centuries. There were loads of cute shops and eateries (all closed) and we saw our first sportsbar in this little town.

After a lunch break on the boat, Chrissie rejoined us and we went on the guided tour in the afternoon, and walked across the Marc Seguin pedestrian footbridge to Tain l'Hermitage on the opposite side of the Rhone river. Here we stopped at a small museum, Musee Palue, whose owner sells paintings of her father's, who was an artist. She spoke to us in French and the guide interpreted for her. Our tour guide wore a leopard coat with black boots and sunglasses and the whole experience was so... French. We met the bus, who then took us to the top of the hill beyond the sloped vineyards to a local winery in Tain L'Hermitage for our wine tasting. They showed us their wine cellars and explained how the wine was made, then we tasted 3 different kinds.

After wine, of course, what tastes better than chocolate? We stopped at the Chocolaterie Valrhona, a company that sells chocolate and also has a school for professional chefs focusing on chocolate dishes and pastries. There were free samples as well as a large selection of delicious chocolate. This one was tough, I had to find something for the boys, small enough to carry home. I settled on circular discs, but I should have bought the flat boxes they had instead. It didn't really matter, it was all great. (By the way, you can buy this chocolate on Amazon - it tasted better than any chocolate I've ever had, and can you believe this, I've had a lot?)

Back to the boat, where again, we eat a sumptuous dinner and get ready for the next day's adventure.

Next: Vienne and Lyon

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