Somewhere along here, if I remember correctly, we entered a 70 foot deep lock to lift us up to visit all of the rocky bits in the Cote du Rhone region, where men are mountain goats and vines grow sideways up hills. It is really something when getting used to darkness at about 10:30 pm, to slowly enter into a deep dark chamber, during dinner. It certainly makes the conversation change, I'll tell you. We had over a dozen locks to go through, on the Rhone but this one was very memorable. It lifted us and we sailed on through the evening toward our docking place, Vivier, which we reached at just about 10 pm. Those stallwart types, and especially the ones who did not pay for other excursions were all seemingly happy to go traipsing through a tiny hilltop village, with a guide and their flashlights, in the dark. Me? I chose to get a good night's sleep as we were tethered up next to another smaller riverboat and was looking forward to the morning's sail up to Tain-l'Hermitage.
Look, up there in the top portion of the photo; this is our Viking Europe tied up for the day, as seen from a very old walking bridge across the Rhone.
This was definately a divided community, with the older and less fortunate town on our docking side, with the newer and more commercially vibrant side being to out backs. The old part had some interesting bits and we walked around a while before it was time to join up with our guides. I especially liked this castle built on a big rock. In the dark of that opening were big meat hooks...hmmm...for humans?
Look up on those hills, can you imagine the hard work for the guys taking care of those vines? It was like this on the other side of the river, as well.
From this place we boarded busses and went across the river, which could have been accomplished by walking, of course. We had some very elderly people who had some issues with walking and so we had to get on and off of busses, when I would rather have ambled around. This town was where we visited the Valrhona headquarters chocolate shop, which gave something else to carry home, even though I was so very intent on getting out of that nightmare of a crowded place, as soon as possible. There is a chef's school attached to the small factory.
From there, we hopped back onto the bus for a couple of blocks ride (!) up the road, which let us walk back to the bridge that Rod and I had walked, earlier. Sigh. Of course, I had to take another picture of this house, which to me was the epitome of Southern France.
We walked around the corner and into a small gallery tucked into a 15th century stone house, featuring works by the owner's father, the late Pierre Palue (my French family's name was Palu). It was a quirky place and we got to actually understand why everyone can survive nicely in the summers, by merely closing their shutters and staying cool during the heat of the day.
Our last stop was quite a bit out of town where we were taken to a small winery in the Cote du Rhone appellation. Our guide must have been friends with the non English speaking family and so she ran the tastings. I, for the life of me, was so very surprised that they were pouring wine from 2012, which they were so proud to make in stone, instead of wood. It was...pretty terrible and I felt sad for them but there was actually one guy who purchased a couple of bottles, so there was no accounting for taste. I found myself to be pretty spoiled by the wines in our region and of course, in this area, they were pretty much relegated to Syrah grapes, which may be another region that I was unimpressed...but seriously...2012???
We are still nibbling that chocolate, after dispersing most of it to others. That was the highlight of the day.