Saturday, April 22, 2017

France 2017 - The Start Of Our Trip

We arrived in France on Wednesday morning, April 19, having flown into Lyon via Amsterdam. We picked up a car in Lyon and made the short drive to the northern Bugey region, where we were spending the first night.  Our first stop was the small town of Poncin, which we had visited a couple of times before.  It was getting close to lunch time, but first we stopped at Lingot Martin, a winery on the main road just outside the center of Poncin.  This winery, which we had visited a few years before, principally produces Bugey – Cerdon wines. Cerdon is a small sub-AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegee, formerly Appellation d’Origine Controlee, or AOC) of the Bugey appellation, which is limited to low-alcohol sparkling wines made by the Methode Ancestrale. The Cerdon wines are generally very fruity and have at least a little sweetness.  We tried the entire range of Cerdon wines at Lingot Martin, and bought 6 bottles of 3 different wines.  Although Lingot Martin is not by any means a large producer, it is by far the largest producer in the small Cerdon appellation.

After our visit to Lingot-Martin we stopped at the fromagerie next door, which is a cheese producer that has a shop that also sells cheeses from all over France. Everything looked great, but we skipped the “foreign” cheeses and bought one of the old Comtes that they made themselves.  After that visit it was time for lunch, and we went to a small restaurant just down the road in Poncin called Le Poncinois.  There was a busy bar on one side, and the restaurant was bustling with local workers having their leisurely lunch break. The restaurant serves a 3-course fixed price Menu du Jour at lunch, with a few choices for the main course and dessert and an ample salad as the first course. Everyone there ordered the Menu du Jour, including us; we also had a glass of Cerdon beforehand, and instead of dessert had a cheese board with some great cheeses.

After lunch we drove to the village of Neuville-sur-Ain, less than 10 minutes from Poncin, where we were spending our first night. As its name suggests, the town is on the Ain River, and our hotel, Au Faisan Dore (Golden Pheasant), overlooks the Ain River. It’s a lovely, small hotel, and our room had a view of the river (see below). Incidentally, the bridge over the Ain in Neuville was built in the 1700's; thus, the name Neuville, meaning New Town, is just relative to other French towns of even older provenance.  After checking in at the hotel we took a walk up the hill and through the town.

Afterwards we took a short drive to Cerdon, the town that gave the wine its name. Many, if not a majority, of Cerdon producers are in the town of Cerdon, and all of them are quite small. In order to visit them it’s usually necessary to call ahead, as there’s a good chance that no one will be available at the winery. We hadn’t planned to visit any more producers that day, so we just took a walk around the town, which is quite lovely.
Cerdon and its Vineyards

The next day, after we checked out of our hotel we headed off towards the Burgundy region, where we planned to spend 2 nights with our friend Ghislaine, who lives in the town of Gueugnon. On our way to Gueugnon we stopped in the village of Hurigny, near Macon, to try and find a goat cheese producer I had discovered on the Internet. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to write down the address, so we stopped in the center of the village and went into the library, where the woman there knew exactly who we were looking for, and copied a map and gave us directions. It was easy to find, and we stopped and bought several of their cheeses.

We then continued our drive to the outskirts of the Maconnais wine region, and made a stop at Chateau de la Greffiere, a wine producer in La Roche Vineuse that I had some familiarity with. We tried a wide range of their white wines from the Macon la Roche Vineuse and Saint Veran appellations. All were excellent, and we bought 5 bottles to bring with us. Especially outstanding was an older wine from the La Roche Vineuse appellation which came from a separate parcel that was south facing and had full sun for a large part of the day.  After leaving the winery we made a brief stop at the Chateau de BerzĂ© le Chatel, which is a magnificent medieval fortress. We then continued on to Gueugnon, where Ghislaine was waiting for us.
Chateau de la Greffiere

After spending a little time with Ghislaine at her house, we all went off on a drive to some nearby towns.  We stopped in Toulon-sur-Arroux, a charming town on the Arroux River, and then in La Boulaye, which is famous for its large Buddhist temple, known as The Temple of the Thousand Buddhas, which also contains a chateau on its grounds.  On the way back to Gueugnon we stopped at a small goat cheese producer that Ghislaine visits frequently, and picked up a variety of cheese.

Buddhist Temple

Chateau on Temple Grounds

Goat cheese producer


  1. Always ask the librarian! And, lilacs! Lucky you.

  2. Is it just me, or do these trips to France seem like an excuse to drink wine and eat cheese?

  3. Yay! Another vicarious trip through the lovely regions of France with Ann and Bob! I think I've been to that goat cheese producer on one of my trips. My mouth waters at the memory.