We then continued our drive to the town of Le Bois d’Oingt in the southern Beaujolais, and met up with the woman whose apartment we had rented for the next 2 nights. After installing ourselves in the apartment, we went back out and took a drive to the nearby village of Chamelet, which is one of a series of old villages in the Pierres Dorées (Golden Stones) region of Beaujolais. We had a difficult time driving through the village and finding parking, which we thought was due to tourism, but which turned out to be due to a funeral at the church in the village. We finally found a place to park, and took a stroll around the village, which was quite beautiful.
We then drove back to Le Bois d’Oingt for aperitifs and dinner on the apartment’s terrace. With our aperitifs we had a bottle of Beaujolais that the owner of the apartment had given us, and then with dinner, which consisted of a huge cheese board and a salad, we had a bottle of a Premier Cru Puligny-Montrachet that Ghislaine had given us that morning. It’s been very difficult to make a dent in our wine supply when people keep giving us wines.
Thursday morning I took a walk to the boulangerie down the street, which was less than 2 minutes on foot. After we finished breakfast we headed off to visit several villages that are part of a circuit of medieval villages in the Pierres Dorees. Our first stop was the village of Chatillon d’Azeergues, and from where we parked there was an amazing view of the church and the 12th century Roman chapel of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours high above the village. We took a walk through the village, all the way to the chateau and chapel at the top. Chatillon is a spectacular, beautiful village, and although it isn’t officially classified as a Plus Beaux Village, I thought it deserved to be. Especially because of the cat.
The next village was Chessy-les-Mines, which has a much smaller medieval area than Chatillon, but nevertheless has some beautiful old buildings, including a 10th century chateau. Our last stop for the morning before heading to the town of Oingt for lunch was Ternand, which has some beautiful medieval buildings, including a 12th century chateau, and a church and chapel that also date from the 12th century.
We left Ternand a little after noon, since we had a lunch reservation in the town of Oingt at 12:30, at La Table du Donjon. The restaurant had been highly recommended by the apartment owner; she told us that there really were not any worthwhile restaurants in Le Bois d’Oingt, and that La Table du Donjon was superb. The village of Oingt, which is another classified Plus Beaux Village, is situated high above the surrounding countryside, and the restaurant has a fantastic view of the vineyards, hills, and nearby villages. We sat outside on the terrace and had a leisurely 2+ hour meal, which was outstanding. The restaurant also has a fantastic wine list, which, not surprisingly, emphasizes Beaujolais wines, especially the wines of the Pierres Dorees. We each started with a glass of excellent rose from a local producer, and then I ordered a bottle of a red Beaujolais from a producer in Oingt. Wines from the Pierres Dorees can only be labeled simply “Beaujolais,” as opposed to the more prestigious appellations of Beaujolais-Villages and the well-known Crus to the north, such as Julienas, Morgon, and Fleurie. However, the 2 Beaujolais from the Pierres Dorees that we had last night and with lunch today were superb, and fruitier and more enjoyable than many of the more highly regarded Cru Beaujolais I’ve had in the United States.
After lunch we spent some time walking around Oingt, which is a lovely village with beautiful houses made of golden stone. We had visited Oingt 8 years ago while spending one night at a chambre d’hote just outside town, but we didn’t see much of the village then. This time we walked through the entire village, and stopped at a pottery shop where we bought some lovely small table pieces.
Afterwards we went back to our apartment in Le Bois d’Oingt and had a quiet evening. Since we had eaten a large lunch our dinner consisted of just a salad and several cheeses. Since we had been so impressed with the Beaujolais wines from the Pierres Dorees that we had, I walked to a shop in town and picked up a bottle from the same cooperative as the wine the apartment owner had given us the first day. It too was excellent.
On Friday morning, we left the apartment and headed out towards our next location, the village of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez. But first we stopped in Saint-Roman-en-Gaul and spent a couple of hours visiting the archeological museum. Saint Roman was the site of a Roman settlement over 2,000 years ago, and in 1968 the vestiges of that settlement were discovered. A museum was eventually created on that site, which opened in 1996. The interior of the museum has numerous artifacts and exhibits illustrating the history of the Roman settlement, and the exterior has extensive ruins and explanations of the settlement. After touring the museum we crossed the Rhone River to the city of Vienne, which has a number of Roman and medieval buildings, and we walked through the old part of the town before heading back to our car.
|Monastery/Village From Chambre d'Hote|
After breakfast we left the chambre d'hote, this time being given not a bottle of wine, but a jam that Josee had made, and a bottle of tomato sauce that one of her family members had made from an old Sicilian family recipe. This weekend was Ferme en Ferme weekend (roughly equivalent to Maine's Open Farm Day) in this part of France, so the bulk of our day was spent touring a couple of farms and a winery before heading to our next stop.