Winneries, kayaking and caving!
22.08.2017 - 24.08.2017 32 °C
Today we took it easy, not to much planned. Finally in the afternoon we decided to visit a winery. We found one just outside of town, so GPS locked and loaded off we go. Now some of the roads our little GPS woman takes us down, welll...yes they are roads, but you wouldn't want to meet anyone. This was one such road, winding through vines dripping with grapes. When we were In Italy 6 years ago we had missed the grape harvest, but too early for olives. Hope to see both this time. Anyhow, we eventually drive up to a very old building, with a sign pointing us in the direction of the boutique. Off we go. The tasting was 8 wines. 2 white, 2 rose (sorry can't figure out accent on stupid iPad) and 4 reds. The very nice young man pouring the wine was very generous. After tasting a couple of them he said we could go sit in the courtyard and he would bring the rest out. It was a beautiful day, a little breeze, large trees in the courtyard and beautiful wines to sip. I didn't want to leave. While pouring the wines we asked some questions about the vineyard, as the building looked really old. He told us it was built on some ancient roman ruins, and that at one time Lois the IIIX had stayed at the manor house. The winery was called la Seigneurie de Peyrat.
Anyhow, we bought a couple bottles, but before we left they suggested we take a walk in the garden. This meant going through the caiurtyard, through part of this amazing old house and to the garden. Now I'm not sure it qualifies as garden, it has been really hot here so no grass, not really any plants, but it was walled, and lead down into a vineyard with a cypress lined dirt track running to the end. Now that's a garden!
About 9:00 that evening we decided to go for a walk. There were people about in the old town, but not many which was rather pleasant. It was a beautiful night for a stroll.
Another lazy day. We went for a coffe in the old town in the morning and the. Wandered around looking in shops etc. We bought a couple of the little pastries that are Pezenas' claim to fame. They are called, Le petit pâté de Pézenas. They are the size and shape of a large cotton reel, these little pies are a golden brown, crispy pastry with a moist, sweet inside. They are cooked in patisseries all over the town, but their origin is far from local. Tradition has it that Lord Clive brought the recipe from India and taught it to the pastry makers of Pézenas when he was staying at the Château de Larzac in 1768. They are kind of a cross between a mincemeat tart (which I hate) and a butter tart, they were very good. Uniqiue little pastries. Does it shock you that I am writing about food?
After lunch at the apartment we decided to venture out again and try another winery as well as an olive mill (or so we thought). Again GPS programmed off we went. Not I thought the dirt track between the vines yesterday was interesting, the road today was NARROW. Our little tiny car, was scrapping plants on both sides, and the plants are 6 feet tall so you can't see out or around corners. We just prayed we wouldn't meet any other vehicles. Then it pops us out onto a paved road and she says very proudly, "You have reached your destination!" Nope! So we decide to drive down the paved road a ways, and low and behold there is the Winery. Babien winery. Very modern building, stainless steel and copper, very different that Seigneurie de Peyrat. The tasting was again 8 wines. 3 white, 1 rose, and 4 reds. The very nice man, spoke English and told us a lot about their wines. Their top white wine, won their female vintner the title of, Best Woman Vintner in the world in 2015. It was quite lovely. We bought a couple bottles and headed to the olive mill. Well this turned out not to be a mill, but rather a place where they blend oils to make their own personal blends, and a very large tourist shop. We tasted a couple oils, they were very good, but I was disappointed not to be at a mill. Bought the smallest bottle I could, as I have to use it up in the next week. We just can't buy olive oil that fresh and amazing at home😢
Back in the car for the I unevevtful trip back to the apartment.
We decided to eat out tonight, so went to a restaurant called Chez Paul. We both had fish, I'm not sure sure what mine was but it was tasty. It had dozens of small shrimp (complete with shell) on top, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how best to get the meat out, so they largely stayed on my plate. I'm guess you just eat them whole, but I don't like the shell, so... I had creame brûlée which was fantastic.
Afterwards we wandered back through the old town to the apartment.
Today was a big day. Up early, GPS fun, off to kayak on the l'herault river. Arrived after about a 30 minute drive, go outfitted with a life jacket, had a 2 min safety spiel. The safety instructions amounted to: stay on the left hand side of the rapids at km 6., stop where you want along the way for lunch, but don't feed the foxes, have fun. This operation would NOT pass in good old Canada. 😀 They loaded us on a large bus, and drove us 12 km up river, dumped us off, pointed us at a kayak and off we go. It was a pretty tame ride, although there were half a dozen sets of rapids, which were not too bad. I only said bad words at one, as I got stuck on rocks and couldn't get my kayak off or turned around, but finally, after much effort and a few bad words (because that always helps) I got off the rocks and over the little drop. The last 3 km of river was so calm you hardly would have known you were on the river. It was lovely, but I was glad to see the end, as my back was killing me. I might have to toughen up if I decide that a career as a voyageur is in my future.
After our kayak adventure we headed back down the road a few km to La Grotte De Clamouse Caves and took an 1 1/2 hour tour. The caves were Discovered in 1945. The caves have been carved out by water, and has amazing calcite and aragonite concretions. The tour starts with a brief film presentation to explain how the caves were created. I have never seen anything so amazing and beautiful. The crystals, the stalagmites and stalactites were breathtaking.
Back to Pezenas. We have been invited next door to the Chuck and Steph's apartment for pizza and wine. (They are the owners of the apartment where we are staying). They also had friends over that were from Alberta, both were teachers and from Camrose. They know many of the people Bill does, from his days in Camrose. Very small world. We had a lovely visit enjoying some of the best pizza I have had, from a small pizza place at the end of the esplanade. Thin crust, wood fired pizza, mine had a little tomatoe sauce with sliced goat cheese, then it was drizzled with balsamic vinegar and honey and tipped with a few walnuts. It was brilliant. Lots of great wine and a very nice time with fellow Canadians. It is interesting to see what bring people to places like Pezenas. They all have homes here or are renovating homes. Late night, but was very fun.