Fish soup

I have been told that I must not forget to include the pollen collecting moths in this blog post. They look like very, very tiny hummingbirds (and I know how tiny they can get) with their little wings going a trillion miles an hour as their probicus prods and sucks at nectar rich lavender. They vied for position alongside honey bees and other insects in a free-for-all reminiscent of when the United Nations drop sacks of rice from helicopters.

But that was quite late on in our day and followed our walk to the quarry, a wander around the medieval and a visit to our first chateau of this visit. It was before the fish soup, however and possibly the worst crème brulee I’ve ever had in France.

The day started very nicely with a marvellous Continental breakfast which featured a delicious melon and star anise jam made by Eric. He also made the yoghurt, which Mirinda can vouch for, that I didn’t try. Given I don’t much like yoghurt.

In order to let our breakfasts settle and so we could exercise muscles which had atrophied during our lengthy drive yesterday, we decided to wander up to the quarry which Patrick had told us about. It was quite a long walk. It was also completely uphill. Of course, the up side to that is it was all downhill coming back.

Blocks from the quarry

Blocks from the quarry

According to Patrick, the blocks are cut out of the quarry and shipped out to Italy where they are cut into convenient sizes then shipped back to France where they are sold at an exorbitant mark-up. I reckon the locals should just walk up and cut off what they want and dress the blocks themselves.

Back from our exhausting walk we jumped aboard the Coco express and headed for Noyers, the medieval town not far from where we’re staying. When I say we drove in Coco, I feel it’s very important to stress that we did it with the roof down. This is why we hired a convertible and, damn the weather, we are going to do it every bloody day!

It was fantastic, to say the least. We felt we were part of the countryside, the wind in our hair, the sun on our heads. Actually, there was a lot of wind in the hair. And the weather was perfect for it.

Top down in Coco

Top down in Coco

What can I say about Noyers? It is one of the loveliest towns in France, possibly the loveliest, we have ever visited. The timber framed houses in various colours and degree of slant from the vertical are wonderfully picturesque in that way that only the really old and decrepit can exude.

noyers01

Having walked through the town and up to the ancient remains of the ramparts, we visited a small shop, the owner of which paints illuminated pictures exactly like the medieval monks of about 500 years ago. They are beautiful.

She thought we were French and we figured she was French as we both greeted each other in French. It turns out she’s American and lives for half the year in New York. She owns a lovely little fluff-ball of a Coton de Tulear called Daisy who was quite keen on sniffing my runners all the time we were in the shop. I figured she could smell our two.

Daisy flies back and forth with her owner, sitting on her lap in the body of the plane. This is because Daisy is a ‘working’ dog. She provides peace and good will in her capacity as a companion dog.

There are a lot of swallows in Noyers. According to Patrick, they are protected. That’s all over France, not just in Noyers. And it’s such a joy to see what can happen when humans decide to protect rather than destroy.

noyers03

After a coffee and the purchase of some fruit in Noyers, we headed for our first Chateau of the 2015 Stately Home Season. This year, it was to be the perfectly symmetrical Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc.

chateaudancey

Home to the Clermont family for a very long time, the chateau has the distinction of not looking as old as it should because of extensive and recent renovations to the outside. In fact, if you look closely, it appears to have been built last week. Patrick doesn’t like that. I think it gives one a glimpse of what it would have looked like when it was originally built.

We had a jolly good wander around, especially enjoying the secret little rooms for which there was no explanation on the audio guide. Clearly our favourite was the strange little chapel off the actual chapel with its memento mori painted wall of skulls and ectoplasm. Of course you’re not allowed to take photos in the chateau…

Strange memento mori wall decorations at the Chateau

Strange memento mori wall decorations at the Chateau

After a very long walk around the first and ground floors, we had a stroll into the Park where we had a short lie down on the grass, before, eventually, heading out of the Chateau grounds and over to the local Ancy tabac for a coffee and, for Mirinda, a lesson in kir normale.

She normally has kir royal, you see but, according to the lady in the tabac, who spoke no English and was convinced we spoke fluent French, she only made kir normale in her tabac. I think she also claimed it was better not being royal but I can’t be sure about that. According to Mirinda it was nice but not better than a royal and, given the choice, she’d go for the royal.

It was with great joy that we made the discovery that we were sat right next to an open patisserie. We figured it would be churlish not to have some French pastry delights. So we did. And they were delicious.

That was it for our touristical visits today and we headed back to the B&B for a short rest before heading out for dinner. Tonight we drove over to Chablis (home of the grape and the wine) and went to Les Bistrot des Grands Crus.

I accidentally had fish soup, something I’d not normally order but which was delicious. In fact the only thing wrong with it was the way it retained temperature. It didn’t stop being hot enough to burn my mouth right down to the last mouthful.

The biggest disappointment of the meal was, of course, the crème brulee. At the time I gave it 5/10 but I have since changed my mind. I really can’t give it more than 4/10. My review is over on my Scoring Creme Brulee page.

Mirinda’s steak followed by strawberry soup dessert (yes, soup) were both delicious.

We had such a lovely day, we celebrated by driving back with the top down…just to spite Bob.

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