Sunday, April 30, 2017

From the Bugey Region to the Drome

On Saturday morning we left our gite in Lhuis and headed to Nyons, in the Drome departement in northern Provence, about a 3 hour drive.  We said goodbye to some of the local cats, and au revoir to the gite and other sites in the village.  Lhuis was a fantastic place to stay, and the gite was terrific.

        This was the weekend of La France de Ferme en Ferme, the equivalent of Maine’s Open Farm Day, in several departements.  Both the Ain departement and the Drome, along with several other departements throughout France, have their Ferme en Ferme events this weekend, and other departements have their open farms the following weekend.

On the way to Nyons we stopped in the town of Crest, which is not particularly picturesque, except that it has a beautiful setting across the Drome River with picnic tables and a view of the donjon in Crest. So we stopped there and had lunch and took a few photos.

After leaving Crest we saw a sign for a Ferme en Ferme participant, and decided to see what type of farm it was. It turned out to be a fantastic place, and it was very busy.  The farm raised the Moulard variety of ducks, and made all kinds of products from ducks, including foie gras, duck breast, and rillettes.  We got a tour of the farm, followed by a tasting of their products, many of which we bought.

We eventually arrived in Nyons and checked in to our gite. The gite is in a building that’s built into the ancient town walls, and it took awhile to find it.  But with a little help from some residents, we eventually found it.  After unloading our suitcases and everything else we brought from Lhuis, we talk a walk through the town and packed up some pastries and a few other things for dinner.

On Sunday morning we first walked into town to pick up a few fruits and vegetables, then headed off to visit a few more farms that were participating in Ferme en Ferme weekend.  On the way we stopped at the small village of Cornillon-sur-l’Oule because it looked like there would be a good view of the valley.  The view was great, but we also noticed a shop that was having an art exhibit that was ending  that day.  The exhibit, which featured paintings by local artists gong back to the 1950's, was put together by the shop owner, who said that she often had art exhibits at her shop.  The shop also sold wines from local producers, and had a very interesting selection. I wound up buying a bottle of a red Cotes-du-Rhone Villages from Domaine Louis Tourtin, partly because of the story the shop owner told me: that Thomas Jefferson, when he was Ambassador to France, brought wine from this domaine back to the United States to give to President Washington.

After leaving Corrnillon-sur-l’Oule, our first farm stop was Ferme Monge near the village of Arnayon, a farm we had visited 10 years ago, which raises goats and makes goat cheese as well as walnut oil and fruit juice. We picked up several goat cheeses, then headed off to the next farm, La Ferme de Pracoutel in Vesc, which also raises goats.  Like Ferme Monge, this farm makes goat cheese, but also makes various goat meat products.  They were serving a lunch that included the cheeses they make as well as goat sausages and salami.  We ordered the lunch and sat at a picnic table on the farm overlooking the hills.  Before leaving we bought some more goat cheese and some goat milk.

The next stop was Les Cochons de Dieulefit, a pork producer in the town of Dieulefit. We took a stroll around the farm, viewing all of their pigs and piglets. We then stopped at the stand they had set up for the weekend and bought some of their sausages and rillettes. The woman who waited on us said that the man who makes the sausages makes the best sausages in the world. We’ll see.

We then drove back to our gite in Nyons, and after unloading our purchases we took a walk around the town and down to the river.  We crossed the river on the 15th Century bridge, then walked to the modern bridge, where we had a great view of the old bridge.  On the walk back to our gite we made a few stops, including at a still-operational lavender distillery.

When we returned to our gite, there was a cat who had walked into the courtyard through one of the gates. The cat was very friendly, and also hungry. We gave it some pork products and then some cheese, which it happily devoured.  When we sat down in the courtyard for aperitifs, the cat joined us.  When we went inside, the cat followed, then went back outside.  After we shut the door, the cat jumped up to the kitchen window, looked inside, the curled up and went to sleep.

     The cat eventually left and presumably went home.  As part of dinner we had the sausage we had bought at the farm in the afternoon, and whether they're the best sausages in the world might be subject to dispute,  but they certainly were very good.  And so was George Washington's wine, which we had with dinner.


  1. Cat bonanza. Alas, poor pigs but I like sausages too. Maine awaits your return. Spring is taking its time arriving.

  2. I love the Jefferson/Washington story. I'll think of it the next time I open a Côtes du Rhône Villages.