How many times, I wonder, will we fall for that old trick designed to catch us Johnny Foreigners out? How often will we be disappointed by closed towns and villages? How can the French economy afford to take a day off? Of course, we should know better but, unfortunately it appears we never learn.
Today we headed off for a mornings pootling while we sent Lisa, Jack, Anna, Sam and Maggie off to see the chateau at Chateauneuf. The plan was then to buy some picnic food and head for a lake for the perfect French afternoon.
Our pootling took us to Vitteaux, a town with a convent, a tourist information office, a bank and a very weird looking genetically modified dog. While nearly completely deserted, there was an excess of traffic driving through Vitteaux, including some pretty hefty trucks. A couple of these hefty trucks almost came a cropper at the three way intersection we were standing at trying to work out why everything was closed.
A petrol tanker came barrelling down one leg while a cement truck approached from another (fortunately the third leg was devoid of traffic). They were both going too fast. There then occurred one of those daring feats of brave lunacy as the two trucks appeared to glide around each other, the cement truck roaring up the road from where the tanker had come and the tanker heading up the third road. It was quite balletic but looked like it would have been more at home at one of those stock car events with monster trucks running everything over and breathing fire.
So, we wandered around the empty streets of Vitteaux before heading back to Coco to continue our pootling.
We soon found the extraordinarily elaborate church at St Thibault. The village is very small (it has population of less than 150 and includes Australians, Americans and Brits) but the church is quite big. While perhaps the seating capacity may not be large, the height of the structure is impressive.
It was built sometime before the 13th century because that’s when St Theobald’s remains where removed from the church and given to a local priory. For reasons unknown, the church and village were named after St Theobald but called St Thibault. Needless to say, there were no leaflets, even in French. Still, it was a nice, plain church looking quite dominant in such a tiny village centre.
The church had a series of gargoyles, all looking quite ferocious and a little more in keeping with a church than the ones at Dijon.
The plan had been to meet Lisa, Jack and the kiddlings back at Les Roches at about 12:30 so we headed back across country stopping off to check out the local chateau. It’s a lovely little building though privately owned and, therefore, inaccessible.
The chateau sits alongside the parish church (obviously closed) which has, among other things, a very interesting set of helioloid columns. (Actually, I THINK they’re helioloid. It was written on a plaque and I’m writing it down from memory so it’s probably wrong.)
I reckon the columns look like legs crossed in an effort to not go to the toilet.
After a short visit, we drove Coco the remaining 500 metres back to Les Roches where we sat in the shade and waited for the others.
Eventually, Mirinda received a text from Lisa saying that Chateau Chateauneuf was closed, as were all shops within a 50 kilometre radius. They were at a boulangerie and could only buy baguettes and pastries. We said this sounded fine for lunch and settled down to wait.
After a rather long wait, they returned with a delightfully sugary lunch which was devoured with great abandon…though some members of the party seemed to think it wasn’t as nourishing a lunch as it could have been.
We then decided to set off for a lake. The Morvan is an area of forest and lakes a short drive from where we’re staying and we’d settled on one particular lake which looked nice and had a creperie near it. We still have no idea whether the creperie was open or not (I think not) because one of the trades that do not have a day off on a Monday is that of road builders. We know because we ran into some.
There had been a diversion which Mirinda and Lisa (who had been offered my seat in Coco while I navigated for Jack) had tried to drive around but only managed to wind up facing two big trucks full of road makings. They were told, in inexplicable French, that there was no way through to the lake which was only a short distance away. We all turned around and headed for another lake.
This second lake was a bit fiddly to find but find it we eventually did and we sat down on the grass, amongst a number of random French, possibly food shop owners, and soaked up the scenery. Anna sat with Mirinda and me while the others went for a long swim in the lake. She told us her ‘Interesting fact about continents’* which we thoroughly enjoyed and were suitably amazed at.
Nicely wet and cooled down, we all then set off back for Les Roches.
And that was pretty much it for today except for the momentous news that Sam ate a snail at dinner tonight after a bit of coaxing and a courageous fight against instant evacuation. Tomorrow we are probably going to Beaune which, hopefully, will be open.
* Anna’s interesting fact about continents: All continents begin and end with the same letter (Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, Antarctica, America). While this is very interesting, it’s not exactly accurate because America is sometimes divided into two continents of North and South America. Still…