October 2000

the Port of Roanne

We are moored here in Roanne, all snuggled in for the winter.  We won't have to worry about cruising until we leave in the spring.

This is a nice mooring with friendly neighbors and a small café just across from our boat. We have stopped in there a couple of times, and we plan to go back often for the Plat du Jour and the ambiance. The owner is kind enough to converse with us, and it is a good way for us to practice our French.

She normally just serves lunch, but she made dinner for us one night when it rained so hard all day that we didn't want to ride our bikes to the market. She also helped us call a cab the other night to take us to Roanne's most famous restaurant, Troisgros.

We dined slowly, and enjoyed a delicious meal, perfectly served. It was our birthday treat, and we would be happy to make it a yearly tradition. The restaurant was as wonderful as its reputation, and we wish that we could become regular customers, like the people that we saw coming in greeting the staff with kisses, obviously it was not their first time there.

Troisgros is a restaurant that people fly into Roanne to visit, because it is one of the best restaurants in France. Watching the other customers, and the skill of the staff as they anticipated everyone's next wish, was part of the entertainment. We dined without feeling the eyes of our waiter watching us, but whenever we were about to want some water or more wine in our glass, he was there performing the task before we had completed the thought.

The atmosphere was comfortably elegant, friendly and not at all pretentious. Just after midnight, we asked them to call us a caour barge moored in the port of Roanneb, and we were told that it was too late to find a taxi in Roanne. "Pas de probleme", they said, and one of the staff drove us home.

The days go by quickly here in our new port, they are getting shorter, or course. We are up every morning to see the sunrise, and it is nice to be able to stay up long enough to see the sunset.  During the long days of summer, while we were working hard all day on our barge, we were going to bed when it was still light, and it would be light in the morning when we woke up.

Bikes, walking and trains are our main means of transportation this winter. We want to try doing without a car this year, and then we can decide next year whether we want to buy a car or not. The surrounding countryside is beautiful and full of small villages to explore, and we have been lucky enough to go exploring with friends who have cars.

We have already had quite an adventure driving on the small country roads with our friends from backblue sky over a green valley home, Candace and Tom.  We drove out into the countryside in their rental car, with the intention of just getting lost to see what we would find.

We followed a little wooden sign on one country road that pointed the way to a village with an appealing name, Dancer. After we turned at the sign, we traveled along on a small road, and soon we were going downhill. We went down, down, down, and the road continued to get smaller and smaller. It had begun like a road, but by now it was looking quite a bit like a hiking trail. Unfortunately, we were already committed. The only way out was to back up, and we all agreed that would be too difficult. We crossed our fingers and continued traveling forward hoping that the road, which was now deep in a forest, would not completely disappear. We drove through a tunnel of branches, as the trail became even steeper. The situation was getting so ridiculous that we couldn't help laughing. The worse the road became, the more we laughed. How did we find ourselves in such a silly situation?

At last, we came to more small wooden signs at a crossroads, picked what looked like the bigger road, and we set off down another very steep, narrow and rocky trail.  It is a good thing that we were in a little car, because we were able to keep our wheels on the tiny path, and finally we emerged from the forest anda man pouring wine for us in a tasting room found ourselves in the middle of someone's vineyard. We followed the signs to the tasting room.

It was an adventure that we are still giggling about.