Monday, July 17, 2006

France Sancerre Day 9

Up at 6:15 a.m., we checked out of the hotel and took a cab to the train station. We caught a 7:39 a.m. train from Chamonix to St. Gervais. We boarded an 8:30 a.m. train back to Lyon. This train made about a dozen stops and took more than 3 hours and 15 minutes.

In Lyon, we picked up a rental car from Hertz. The car that we had reserved did not have a GPS; neither of us wanted to spend the next four days wandering across France without a GPS. With a little whining and the added cost of an arm and leg, they were willing to upgrade me to a Volvo XC70 with a GPS.

This was the one night on the trip that we did not have a hotel reservation. In the past, Sharon and I have left a couple of nights open when we travel and ended up some great places. Sharon’s brother Tom and his wife Becky had been to Sancerre years ago and have raved about it. With this in mind, we set the GPS for Sancerre and started north.

The route that the GPS plotted took us southwest before we turned north. Sharon had a heated extended debate with the GPS about which route we should be taking and was not satisfied until we turned North.

We spent a couple of hours following the Loire River north through the edge of the Burgundy region of France. I was not overly impressed with the countryside. If you ignored the buildings, you could have been driving in the foothills of California.

We got to Sancerre in the late afternoon. Sancerre is perched on a domed hill; it has narrow streets with interesting 15th and 16th century houses.

At this point, we made a tactical error. We had set the GPS for the only hotel in the guidebook in Sancerre, Le Panoramic Hotel. It had a great view of the surrounding area but was more modern. We had been traveling all day and were ready to stop. We ended up settling for this hotel, rather than looking around. Although the staff tried hard, the view was speculator and it had a pool, the room was very small and Motel 6ish. Sharon was not pleased.

We got a drink at the bar, splashed around in the pool and enjoyed the view. Afterwards, we got cleaned up and wandered through the town. I enjoyed wandering through the narrow streets and old buildings. I had originally wanted to stay in one of the towns along the way and this stop helped satisfy that desire.

We ended up in the town square. There were four or five different kinds of restaurants spread around the square. With some debate, we choose Auberge Joseph Mellot. We had a set dinner with some regional wine pairings. I had a pastry stuffed with lamb and vegetables and Sharon had some beef. The French have a cheese serving after the main course and before desert. We had a couple of very good goat cheeses, including one that was very light and creamy.

Europeans eat so late and we have gotten into the same mode on this trip. By the time we got back to the room and to bed, it was almost 11:30 p.m.

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