November 26, 2015. Today is Thanksgiving in the USA, which means that I will spend every waking hour silently moping and probably not-so-silently whining that I’m not at home with my family stuffing my face as I should be.
We woke up in the wooded lot outside of Nancy. Philipp looked at the map as I glumly sipped coffee. We’ve already done the Dijon-Lyon-Avignon route from the other side, coming from the south and traveling north, and there’s no alternate road that make sense for us, so we figured we would just book it to the ocean.
We made a quick stop in Vittel, the source of a popular bottle
d water. Not far away, we noticed this sign next to the road: “The Line of the Parting of the Water”. All water on the one side flows to the Mediterranean, and on the other to the North Sea. Cool.
We made another stop in Contrexéville where we had seen a cluster of supermarkets, and we were glad we did. We found like twenty rolls of pastry dough, a GIANT chunk of Roquefort, seven quiche Lorraines, a pizza, a ton of yogurts, and bananas. Score.
Back on the road. As we were driving, I noticed a house with a large front yard where at least thirty geese were running around. The sign posted above the door read, “Ten Percent off Christmas Geese”. This is the kind of thing that I look for to judge what the quality of food is likely to be in any given place, and the kind of thing that I’ve never seen anywhere in New York. Self-raised and butchered free-range animals, farm-made cheese, self-grown olives and self-pressed olive oil. Vineyards with a wooden stand set up in front with a woman selling the wine her family makes. An old woman sitting at a table set up in her front yard selling eggs from her chickens that you can see scurrying around and pecking away in the backyard. This means good food.
We drove through Dombrot-le-Sec (Philipp guffaws, “Dummbrot”), Serocourt, Lamarche, and Val-de-Meuse to Langres.
Langres is an ancient Gallic city. It’s built on the top of a hill and is surrounded by a stone wall, built by the Romans who eventually took over. It was once an important crossroads on the Roman trade routes, but now is a bit past its prime. Still worth a stop though.
We parked and walked up to look at the cathedral and the statue of Diderot, who was born here, and then back around along the top of the wall overlooking the surrounding countryside.
I would love to lived in a walled city like this. This path is perfect for morning jogs, or summer evening strolls.
We continued our way southwards to Dijon. We had been in Dijon before and Philipp considered driving straight through without stopping, but I obviously couldn’t be in Dijon without stopping to buy mustard. I also remembered that I had eaten the most magical chocolate croissant of my life the last time I was here, and was determined to search out the same bakery again.
Success on both fronts. Mustard acquired:
I bought another chocolate croissant thing and stuffed my face with it (it is, after all, Thanksgiving). I don’t know how to describe this pastry. It’s not exactly a typical chocolate croissant as you would imagine it. It was pastry dough (don’t forget, I’m in France— the pasty dough itself is something to celebrate) with layers of like, fudge. Not really fudge, but like, melted chocolate mixed with sugar and a ton of butter to make a sort of paste. The best fucking thing.
As I stuffed my face, we walked around Place de Republique. It reminded me a bit of Place Stanislas in Nancy.
We drove around in Dijon a bit more until we found a camper parking lot south of the city center. Sleep.
Banana pancakes were the first thing on the agenda the following morning, November 27th. Pancakes are a great way to get rid of some of the billion bananas and billion yogurts that we found (and are always finding). Philipp was excited.
We drove all day, through Vougeot, Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon, and Villefranche-sur-Saône to Lyon.
The first hour or so we drove past vineyard after vineyard; grape vines as far as we could see in all directions. The landscape was dotted with puffs of rising black smoke, and soon I saw why. The workers in the fields had metal barrels on carts in which they were burning the bits of weed and dead vines that they had gathered.
Good thing I’m broke. If I weren’t it would have taken us days to travel through this area because I would have insisted on stopping at every opportunity to try the wine.
We kept driving and stopped at a bunch of containers. We found some sexy organic bread, but not too much else.
Since this was going to be one of our last days in France, I obviously needed to go to the French supermarket to get some of what I consider to be French staples. I bought quenelles (a Lyonnaise specialty- really good), Cassoulet, and Creme de Marrons.
Usually I would have bought some macarons as well but I decided to forgo them this time since I’ve been eating so many other sweets. So proud of me. Wine is, obviously, also necessary.
We’ve already been in Lyon twice, so we didn’t need to spend too much time there this time around. We just drove straight though.
We found a place to sleep in Vienne, south of the city. We ate the quenelles with a can of Cassoulet. Fucking. Delicious.