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Reunited with France… and it felt so good to be back! Part nine

Sunday morning, we woke up more than ready to head home to Germany. I missed Noyzi and Arran, even though I generally enjoy it when we have a chance to take a break from the dogs. I saw so many cute dogs in France, including a couple of European styled beagles that made me want to get one of my own! Of course, I won’t be doing that until we are down to one dog again. Arran doesn’t share well, and even after about 18 months with Noyzi, he only barely tolerates him. And Noyzi is a very kind and considerate dog.

We went down to the Stammtisch to find our usual breakfast. The day prior, the breakfast lady had thought we were leaving and asked us if we wanted to pay. We had to remind her that Sunday was our day of departure. I got the impression that maybe people don’t typically stay at the Auberge au Boeuf for several nights, as we did. But actually, there’s a lot to do in the area around Sessenheim. It’s not too far to get to Strasbourg. Nancy and Metz aren’t as close as Strasbourg is, but we could have visited there if the mood struck. Of course, the Alsatian wine route, south of Strasbourg, isn’t far, either. Neither is Baden-Baden, the great German spa town.

As you can see by my posts, we did manage to find several cute and diverse eastern French hamlets. It occurred to me that north of Strasbourg is more diverse in appearance than the southern area is. Over the past few years, Bill and I have visited Alsace more than anywhere else in Europe. We almost completely missed Alsace the first time we lived in Germany together. I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity to explore this unique, historic, and beautiful part of France. We really enjoyed visiting Sessenheim, Soufflenheim, Haguenau, Bitche, Obernai, and Saverne! Each place was different and had its own special vibe and history.

It’s not lost on me that my unexpected and unplanned lifestyle as an “overeducated housewife” has come with certain perks. If I had done with my life what I had planned to do, I might have managed a visit to Paris or Lyon… or maybe to Nice again. Those are all lovely cities, but they tend to be teeming with Americans. Thanks to Bill’s work with the Army, I’ve had some great opportunities to see “the real France”, as it was put by a British man who owned a wine shop in Cluny, France, which we visited in 2017. Cluny is a very nice city in Burgundy and we loved our time there. But I would not expect too many Americans to go, especially not from the United States. That was where Bill ate pig intestines! Talk about a typically FRENCH experience!

Anyway, we enjoyed our last breakfast, but it was time to go home. We loaded up the car and I paid for everything with my credit card– about 1600 euros ($1800 approximately) when all was said and done. That was for four nights in a beautiful suite, breakfast for two every morning, three bottles of wine, four apéritifs, and two nights of sumptuous dinners for two. Parking was free. I feel good about stimulating the local economy.

On the way out of Sessenheim, we stopped at a nearby Boulangerie/Patisserie to get some French pastries. Bill got several beignets, two pain au chocolats, and a kugelhopf. It was a lot for just the two of us. Fortunately, the kuglehopf has kept well in the fridge. I wish he’d gotten some croissants, too. French croissants are better than the locals ones we can get.

The drive back to Wiesbaden was totally uneventful and took about two hours. We had no traffic issues at all, and the weather was fine. I had to laugh on Sunday night, as we dined on Popeye’s Fried Chicken from the food court on post. It’s crazy that we went from five star dining to fast food in less than 24 hours.

I would not hesitate to book Auberge au Boeuf again. Next time, I hope we can try their Stammtisch at lunch or dinner, and if the menu has changed, I would definitely be up for another grand gourmet experience at their restaurant. We’ll see what the future holds! Below are are few last photos from our most recent adventures in France.

If you’ve been following along with this series, thank you so much for reading. My travel blog has been dying, thanks to the pandemic and moving to a new platform. I hope this series will be the first of more to come in 2022! Wish us luck!

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Alsace and Burgundy… Another trip to Cluny and having “coffee” in a wine store. pt. 8

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to go back to Cluny and try another restaurant.  Sophie, the gite hostess, had recommended a place, but we had trouble finding it.  We stopped at a different restaurant instead.  Again, I chose it after following my nose.

Au Bon Point is obviously very much a local dive.  The dining room was full when we got there and everyone looked like they knew the place and its owners.

 

The menu is on the wall.  This time, I was the adventurous one and Bill had a steak and fries.

 

We meat to have a bigger bottle of wine than this.  We did rectify the situation with a great bottle from the South of France.

 

Bill enjoys his “faux filet”.  The frites on his dish were outstanding… probably the best out of the entire trip.

 

I had shrimp in creamy risotto, with peas, carrots, and tiny pieces of jambon blanc (boiled ham).  This was a very tasty dish, but it was also super messy!  Bill laughed at me as I peeled the shrimp and got creamy risotto everywhere.

 

This was a delightful red from southern France, with lots of berries.  I hope we can find it in these parts.

 

Bill had the cake of the day for dessert.  It was apple, of course.

 

And I had a chocolate macaron, which basically ended up being a glorified lava cake.  I’m not a big fan of lava cakes, but I suppose I have to have one on every trip.  I think the chocolate sauce might have been Hershey’s syrup!

 

Because of all the wine, we capped off lunch with espresso.

 

Again, no one spoke English and we got a fine meal at a good price.  I think we spent about seventy euros on this lunch and left fairly satisfied.  I would go back again, although it wasn’t my favorite of all the places we tried.  I think that honor goes to Caveau Heuhaus.

After lunch, we stopped into a winestore because Bill wanted to buy a bottle of locally produced “grappa”.  Au Plaisir Dit Vin was an interesting stop, if only because the guy working there was definitely a salesman.  We picked up a couple of packs of beer from Burgundy and Bill asked about the digestive he wanted.  The man spoke English and helped him pick a bottle.  As we were paying with a credit card, I spotted a bottle of wine I wanted, so we bought that in a separate transaction in cash.

A good liquor store.

The guy then asked us if we had time for a cup of coffee.  Bill seemed reluctant, but I said yes.  So the sales dude brought out two glasses of white wine.  He explained that in France, if it’s four o’clock, a host will sometimes offer coffee and bring out wine.  That way, it’s more socially acceptable to drink before five o’clock, I guess.

As we were trying the wine, I said I tasted lime and, of all things, shortbread.  The sales guy asked me if I was Scottish.  I laughed and said, “No, I am American, but many of my ancestors were Scots.”

The salesman then asked what we were doing in the area.  He guessed maybe we were skiers, but he clearly didn’t get a good look at my ample physique.   I haven’t been on skis since I was a teenager.  We told him we’d just decided to see the area on a lark.  When we said we were staying in Saint Marcelin-de-Cray, he said, “Ah… that is the REAL France!”  Having been to a lot of France’s best known cities, I have to agree.

I am sure that if we hadn’t been interrupted by the next customers, an enthusiastic Russian couple who spoke English, we probably would have left that store with a lot more booze.  I could tell the sales guy was looking to make some money.

 

After walking around a bit more so Bill’s head could clear, we went back to the farm, where I took more pictures and drank more wine.

The sky was ever changing and ever beautiful.

 

We climbed up the tower one more time so Bill could take a look at the sunset.

Our very gracious hostess told us that she didn’t have any bookings yesterday, so we could stay as late as we wanted to.  I would have liked to have stayed longer yesterday, but we knew we had a six hour drive ahead of us.  So after a good breakfast, we packed up and cleared out by 10:00am.  We left our gite in fine spirits, as Sophie told us we’d be welcome back any time.  I promised her I’d spread the word about her lovely accommodations to all of my friends.  So I am doing that with these posts and I hope I can convince a couple of readers to take a journey into rural Burgundy and see “the real France”.

Not only is Burgundy beautiful and brimming with wonderful wines, it’s also a place where there is great hospitality.  Once again, as we said goodbye to Sophie yesterday, we felt like we’d made new friends.  That is the best part of a good trip.

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Alsace and Burgundy… Animal farm and animal parts! pt. 6

I think my favorite part about our stay in Saint Marcelin-de-Cray were the animals on the farm.  I could tell they were all happy and well cared for.  I grew up riding and showing horses, so it was a particular treat to get to hang out with the donkey and horses that live on the property.  The donkey and the nanny goat both stole my heart, but I was especially fond of the donkey (whose name I think was Anton).  If you check the video below, you’ll see why.  I went around and took footage of most of the animals, but the first part of the video is probably the most entertaining.

The sights and sounds were at the farm, while the music is by a wonderful harp guitar player named Stephen Bennett, who used to play during my many dinner shifts at the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I will post a link to the albums the music came from, for those who want to check them out.

 

This donkey was my best friend!

These two were good sports when Zane and Arran came over to meet them.

Llama parents.

My dogs are not used to seeing livestock, so they barked a lot at the donkey and his Friesian horse friend.  Much to my delight, the donkey cut loose with a sassy response, which I managed to catch.

I loved this friendly goat!

Mama and baby!

Rabbits everywhere!

On our first morning at the farm, we had yet another collision with French culture.  Jean Pierre told us we could leave Zane and Arran alone in the gite if we wanted to, so we took the opportunity to go to the nearby town of Cluny.  Cluny is a very charming place, but we were there for lunch.  We made the mistake of stopping at the very first restaurant we came to that was open.  It was called Brasserie du Nord.

I shouldn’t say it was a bad place, per se.  It really wasn’t.  I did see one person leave a comment on a review in English that only the French could mess up French food.  Things got off to a shaky start when Bill misunderstood the waitress and we ended up ordering two half liters of wine.  An English speaking waiter came over to clarify and we only kept one bottle.  In retrospect, we should have definitely kept them both.

I had entrecote and frites there and they weren’t horrible, although the steak was a bit grisly and fatty.  It was also cooked well-done when I asked for medium.  But at least I wasn’t grossed out by it, which is more than I can say for Bill and his meal.  I hasten to add that it’s not the restaurant’s fault that Bill got grossed out.  You see, he fell victim to not knowing what he ordered.

Bill is a fan of spicy, smoked, cajun style Andouille sausage, which is found in Louisiana and was brought there by French people.  He thought he saw a dish with that sausage in it and was psyched that he’d be getting a treat.  He was a bit puzzled when his lunch came out and it had a very distinctive odor.  Although Bill’s people come from Arkansas and have eaten their share of exotic meats, he had never been faced with what he ordered in France… andouillette.  Andouillette is also sausage, but it’s made of chitterlings.  I should mention that in France, Andouille is also made of chitterlings.  In the USA, it’s made of pork shoulder roast.

I was pretty proud of Bill, though, because he gamely ate most of it.  And he didn’t complain too much, either.  He also ate dessert!

Cluny has a very impressive abbey.

We should have ordered more wine in light of Bill’s lunch.

Andouille… otherwise known as chitterlings.

My steak was not as scary.

Bill’s expression when he realizes what he’s eating.

I think he needed to recover.  Over Bill’s shoulder, you can see a guy wearing a hat.  We saw the same guy two days later eating at the same restaurant.  He’s obviously a very colorful regular.

I had tiramisu for dessert.

Bill had the apple tart of the day.  I think it came with butterscotch ice cream.

If you see this sign in France, take heed before you take the plunge.

Cluny offers a nice diversion.

After lunch, I think we needed to go back to the gite and process things.  So we went back and rested for awhile… and Bill digested his pig intestines along with lots more wine.

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