Day 8. Orange to Roanne. 302 Kms, 187 miles.
Dorothy followed the Yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz, and today we followed the Rhone. My iPad keeps changing the spelling of Rhone to Rhine, so if you see the Rhine word, just pretend it says Rhone. Or replace all I’s with O’s. Loke thos. Nit loke thos thiugh.
Anyway, the area is called the cote-de-Rhone for a good reason. This is a massive river, running more or less from north to south, originating from a Glacier in Switzerland, and running south through France in an almost Swiss-like efficiency, in a single and very straight line. It is obvious what the importance of the river has been, and there are a lot of industrial installations along the way. However, these are not dominant, and there are a number of pretty little towns and villages too.
We rode through a region known as the Ardeche, and after following the River for a couple of hours, turned west a bit, and headed upwards into a national park know as du Pilat. It was very pretty, with a twisty road and often high rock faces on both sides of the narrow roads, and we felt once again like we were in the Alps themselves.
After half an hour in the natural surrounds, we suddenly found ourselves dumped in St Etienne, a large and unwieldy city. Fortunately the satnav took us onto the highway for a spell, and we sped through the conurbation. North of this city, we spent a lot of time riding along very straight roads, in unremarkable countryside, joining up the dots between towns, car sales lots, and Mr Bricolages. Now I am not sure who Mr Bricolage is, but he has a lot of shops. I think they are a kind of DIY store that sells masonry, bricks and concrete, but every village, town and city seem to be overrun by these establishments. I think the French must do a lot of building, or home repair. Or perhaps they are waiting for the next time the Germans come a-visiting, and getting their repair materials ready just in case.
Our destination today was Roanne, about which I know nothing. The last 20 minutes of our journey was again on a motorway, and our satnav showed that the hotel was 2 minutes off the exit from the road. And indeed, it was correct. However, this two minutes took us past an industrial estate, and into a mature forest, where there was a beautiful old Chateau waiting for us.
The building is from the 13 century, and I think was built up in the late 1500’s by a lady who founded an order of nuns, before dying and then haunting the establishment.
We didn’t meet her, however we did meet the present owners, a large and very welcoming family. The chateau is mainly used on weekends, for weddings. They converted a barn into a hall, and the wedding party stays in the hotel. During the week they are pretty empty, in fact there was only us and one other couple staying over.
The building is lovely, and the grounds are beautiful. The rooms are nice too, and we have a four-poster bed in our room. We settled in, had a swim in the pool, showered and looked at the days photos, and then rode back into town to fill up with petrol, and go shopping for dinner. The local Carrefour provided, and we took our dinner back to the chateau.
The owners gave us plates and knives and forks, plus wine glasses. We had bought a bottle of 2euro wine from the region we stayed at last night, Orange, and it was delicious. The chateau owner gave us the glasses, and explained that they have different types of wine glasses for each wine region. These apparently bring out the differing qualities and flavors of the wine types. Either that, or he was just gently teasing us ignorant foreigners- but I suspect not.
Anyway, our meal was lovely, and we were joined by various dogs at various junctures. Two very large alsatians, and a small rat-like creature, came and went. The main protagonist was the largest, a ten-month old pup called Flick. He was really lovely and friendly and playful, but was mostly after whatever we were eating.
We finished our food and wine, sitting outside the house. We felt like exclusive guests at our own private restaurant, as the other couple had gone to town for their evening, so we had the place to ourselves. The family run this place, so there were no staff about, and we had a very relaxed time. Once again I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow-this holiday must be relaxing me very much, because I normally take quite a while to go to sleep. Either that, or Jelly Bean is exhausting me with her chatting. But I think not…..
Don’t forget, until I get home and sort out the pictures, they can be found here https://picasaweb.google.com/brad63/France2011