After bidding bon voyage to Agathe and our fellow Road Scholars the next morning, we met up with our friend Carl and his friend Christiane, a talented sculptor, for some more exploration. Christiane comes from a family that has long been involved in the Lyon textile trade. She suggested a visit to this atelier that makes silk scarves using custom-designed silk screens.
Their specialty is reproducing paintings in cooperation with the original artist. When we arrived they had just finished a series of prints of the picture displayed on the wall.
The display shows the sequence of prints needed, each of which requires a separate screen. This particular image requires nine precisely aligned screens to complete.
The following day, Friday, we drove to Christiane's country house, from which we could explore nearby wine regions. Christiane had a funeral to attend, so the two of us set out with Carl to visit the town of Vongnes (VON-nya) in the Bugey (bu-JAY) region. Bugey was elevated to Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 2009.
Bugey is not well-known in the US, but the wines were delicious. They are especially noted for the white wines made from the Altesse variety, but we also tasted pinot noir, gamay and mondeuse varieties at Le Caveau Bugiste.
The chamfered roof building with stairs housed a small museum where we saw a very nice video describing the history of the region and its wines.
This entire area is full of impossibly picturesque villages and acres upon acres of grape vines.
We started Saturday at the market in nearby Belley (bell-LAY) to select "fixin's" for Sunday dinner. Then the four of us explored the nearby Savoie region. This area only became formally part of France in the mid-19th century. Prior to that time it was an independent duchy.
We had lunch in Chanaz, located on the Canal de Savière connecting the Rhone and Lac du Bourget. The canal has been used for navigation since Roman times. Depending on relative water levels, the flow may either be from the lake to the river or the reverse.
On Sunday, Christiane invited friends to join us for Sunday dinner. We enjoyed Lyonnais sausage cooked with pressed grapes obtained at the winery the day before. I got to show off some of my new cooking skills while Christiane was at church by sweating shallots for the beurre d'echalotes that would form the base of the sauce. Oh, the pressure! Carl, Jim and I were also responsible for peeling potatoes and setting the table for the guests.
Christiane's friends Bernard and Marie-Berthe brought a killer appetizer made with tapenade, in honor of our recent visit to Provence, and a dessert cake with salted caramel. They were joined by their daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter Annie, whom we had met at the market the day before.
In spite of the chilly weather, it was pleasant to have coffee following the meal in Christiane's back yard.
The dinner was delicious and was the setting for much congenial conversation. Carl is fluent in French, but everyone was very tolerant of us language-challenged Americans.
The next morning we arose early for our return home. Carl & Christiane drove us to the train station where we caught the SNCF express to Geneva. We had some challenges connecting to the airport train, but got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight.
What a thoroughly delightful visit we had!
As usual, however, we are happy to be home.
Rockbridge County has many more beautiful vistas, but this is the one we love the most -- from our back deck.
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