Last day in France

Another late start with bird calls and rain softly pattering on the roof. Breakfast with Zepher – our new best friend. Will have to check out his book. Freedom’ s Way by Zepher Bloch.  Sounds very interesting.

We packed up and chat to Lionel about our plans. He was sorry we couldn’t stay on in Paris. He was born there and loves it. He spoke so fondly about the areas he lived in. Both Montmartre and Bastille.  He is very dreamy in a nice way and has a lovely son who prepares breakfast for us. His wife Marie Louise runs the office in the main town place. He said when he bought the castle it was very run down but he had time and enough money to do it up and now rents the rooms to visitors. We were lucky it wasn’t very full so it was quiet, but with the rain we couldn’t sit in the lovely courtyard and enjoy breakfast.

Check out the village we stayed in Noyers in Burgundy. They made a little u tube to promote their music festival coming up soon. You tube – Noyers happy place!

We set off for the car after double cheeked kisses and loaded up and brrrrr nothing. Flat battery! So back to Lional who called the local garage man who arrived very quickly and had us moving along quite quickly.

It rained most of the way to Troyes, a very old town which is home to Pope Urban in the 12 th c. It’s churches are big and old and we saw an old lady at the small office inside the church who had the most amazing old face. Very lined and full of character. I would loved to have taken  her photo but couldn’t be so rude as to ask!

We called into their outlet centre and i can’t get too enthusiastic in places like that ( except when I went to Cabazon in Palm Springs last year. It was amazing, ) but this was not too good and very spread out. I showed Steve into the Hugo Boss store and he managed to find some red ( dull not  too bright) pants, a checked shirt and a lovely blue jumper. Mr fashion statement. I just got to pay for it!

Now in the Qantas lounge waiting for our flight to Brisbane. Feeling vey tired. But home in the morning so i’ll be fine.

So until the next time.  

Chablis and Auxuerre

We stumbled out of bed to the sound of bird calls. Not too early as the day was grey and a little rainy. We met Zepher for breakfast and planned the day. He was going to see the house again and invited us to go with him. What a treat. I really want to see the place and he was very keen to have us along for another opinion.

So after breakfast we went to the small village markets, bought some soap and a beautiful orange angora neck muff ( like a collar)   
We set off towards Chablis which is a small town almost all rebuilt after the war. Thee are lots of Chablis wine caves and we went to the one recommended by Lionel our host at the castle we are staying in. Lionel appears each morning and chats to the guests about their plans for the day and gives advice and suggestions. 
We stopped in Chablis and planned on seeing some of the Chablis wine houses and get a taste for it. 
I tasted a few  but at 11 am with no food they all tend to taste the same! 
We continued on towards Auxuerre where we were going to spend our last night until we changed our plans and decided to stay in Noyers. I do like the small villages best. 
We walked around, checked out the rather grand gothic style church, a few shops,  walked along the river and had lunch. I had a beautiful Niçoise salad and Steve and a lovely local salad with warm potatoes, bacon and a soft boiled ago. Somewhat like a Caesar salad. 
We had to hurry back to the Noyers to meet Zepher and make our way to the castle he was looking to buy. 
It’s so much fun when there is no pressure! 
What a castle. In a small non de script village but so romantic. Big rooms. Lots of rooms, and lots of work to do to get it to a good standard for rental. The bones are great but the layout of rooms to bathrooms need organization and the pool need a complete refurb.

We did enjoy meeting Brigette the agent who had travelled from Paris to conduct the inspection. We walked all over the castle. Three floors of big spaces. Some made sense  some didn’t.
Anyway Zeph was all carried away and was discussing all aspectsof the castle. Men arrived to assess the pool and the bad news was that it needed heaps of work. Around $20,000.

It was drizzling so after a cup of tea, lots of chat and some photos we left to drive back to Noyers for a drink. We had Brigitte with us and really enjoyed her company. 

Noyers to Vezerlay

Woke to the sound of birds and had breakfast in the downstairs salon of the castle. Our new friend Zeph joined us before he set off to look at the small castle he is thinking of buying.

We did a little tour exploring  the village of Noyers. It’s  beautiful but not quite Cotignac, where our friends the Brannocks have a house. Saying that,  it is very nice.  A number of businesses – pottery, bags, brocante, arts and paintings along with restaurants and cafes. All rather lovely.

At around 11.30 we set off for Vezerlay about 30 mins away. It reminded me of an italian hill town. We parked just outside the gates and wandered up through the Main Street. I found a lovely clothes shop and ended up buying 2 tops. Couldn’t decide which one so bought both. One is black with little dots and a patterned sleeve. The other a soft mushroom  linen top with gathers. They are a little different. Hope I get to wear them!

Also bought macaroons,  a bell and a bracelet. Steve liked the pottery and we got a few pressies for the kids and a vase for the guest room. 
We enjoyed a  galette ( large crepe) for lunch with smoked salmon dressed with a dill cream. Delicious. No wine! 
Feeling full we headed off for a 30 min drive to Montbard and the Abbey. It was so peaceful and beautiful though would be so cold in winter. It’s summer? here but still overcast with patches of rain. 
Got back to Noyers and bought a bottle of Chablis at the wine shop and went back to our lovely little castle and I’m sitting in the salon ( lounge ) with a glass whilst writing this! 
We are having dinner with Zeph again tonight and are  keen to hear of his adventures in buying a French property. Brannocks – I think he would like to talk to you! Dinner tonight at a different restaurant though I would have been happy with the same one blast night. 


In the sitting room at Pol Roger
Hubert showing Steve the production records

We spent our first night in the Champagne area in Epernay. It’s a small town with an Ave of famous Champagne Houses – Caves. Accommodation was hard to get and I had tried to get two nights at a charming B&B in nearby Hautvillers. But sadly they could only give us 1 night so we stayed at the the,  not so,  Best Western. Luckily we only arrived there at 8.30 off the flight from Sardinia. We went straight out for dinner to Le Banc. It was very good. Lovely old building , an old bank with wonderful wood work. 
After dinner we walked the Ave de Champagne and marveled at the size and grandeur of the Champagne Houses and thought how lucky we were to have access to Pol Roger. We decided not to go to other houses as we would have such a good private tour. We decided just to sample bubbles  in the restaurants at every opportunity. 
Fell into bed and slept badly in the dipping into the middle bed. I also had to remove the doona from its cover. The Europeans don’t use a top sheet and I find it SO hot under the doona. It’s supposed to be summer! It’s not though…….. with the weather a little overcast. 
We set off the next day on the flower route to see small villages of note. Went to Chalons-en-Chapagne,  a delightful small village. On from there we ended up at Verdan as Steve wanted to see the memorials and sites related to the war. We enjoyed lunch by the river- a rather nice baguette and for me the non driver a glass of rosé
We arrived in our village,  Hautvillers,  to stay in a lovely B&B hosted by Cecile. It was very welcoming with a lovely large room overlooking the vines towards Epernay. Sadly the very good restaurant in the village was not open Sunday for dinner so Cecile booked us a taxi to take us to bistrot  7 in Epernay, a bistrot  with a big reputation. It was really good and we shared a champagne and a lovely red with veal with capers, preserved tomatoes and lemons for Steve and Duck with cherries for me. Delicious. Steve followed with cheese and I had local strawberries. 
The next morning we had a light breakfast before heading into Epernay for our visit to the house of Pol Roger. Hubert de Billy a direct descendant of Pol Roger met us and took us in a very personalized way on a tour of the cave. He was so interesting and funny – not a stuffy rich French man! We finished with a bottle of 2004 Vintage. I learned a lot about the production of Champagne and a few little stories as well!  As the French say….. Magnifique.