Thursday, October 09, 2014

Arbois and Poligny

To resume our travelogue: from Salins we climbed up and over a ridge, before free-wheeling down into Arbois.  Always a bad move to lose gained height so early in the day.  This was to be our hardest day's cycling by some margin. 

Arbois was delightful.  This is the house of Louis Pasteur, his childhood home and also the place where he set up a laboratory and conducted his experiments.  We listened, enthralled, as the guide told us all about how Pasteur worked on the vaccine against "la Rage"  - rabies. There was an amazing story of a group of Russian peasants who had been bitten by a wolf.  They walked across Europe to reach Pasteur, arriving in time to receive the vaccine and for at least some of them to be saved.

We were delighted to be able to understand the guide, who spoke formally and slowly - the other people in the group were Belgians.  All year we have been attending  classes to refresh our French, but we still have real difficulty following the language as it is actually spoken.

After a light lunch we climbed out of Arbois - and then we climbed some more.   We passed vineyards where the vendange was in progress, and a grove of hazelnut trees offering Pick Your Own Noisettes at the weekends.  By now the heat was getting to us and the road became even steeper.  We were pushing our bikes up the back of a cliff.

At last it levelled off and we began the descent into Poligny.  This was our most spectacular descent, as the road ran down the limestone escarpment, at times actually through the cliffs.

 Above us, we could hear climbers tackling the sheer cliffs.

 At last we ran on down the valley, arriving at our hotel - La Vallee Heureuse - on the outskirts of Poligny.  This was our most memorable hotel, with wonderful food and very friendly hosts who were happy to talk with us, perhaps because they were not busy.

The next day we explored Poligny.  One of the features of travelling by bike is slow tourism.  A leisurely stroll around Poligny revealed much of interest architecturally.  There were several outlets for wine-producers - one in a converted church. 

In the centre of town was a college specialising in hospitality and catering.  On the wall beside the main entrance was a board showing two lists of names with ages - of the transported.  The first list showed those who did not return from the camps, and the second those who survived.  It was a striking reminder.

Poligny's major tourist attraction is the Cheese Museum. Now, there are many types of cheese, about which there must be a huge body of knowledge.  But this was a museum with a single focus: the Comte cheese which is a major part of the local economy, along with the wine.  In fact, we soon learned that every aspect of cheese production and tasting is taken as seriously as the production of fine wine.  We were invited to taste two examples of the cheese, and to try our hands, or our palates, at discerning very subtle flavours within it.  It was a surprising end to the afternoon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I HAVE to comment!!! to allay my guilt for not commenting after every time I open your blog.

Whether you share your knitting 'delights' or the wonderful beautiful "tours" which you and your husband take ... and which fill me with envy .. of the experience and the vim and vigour of you both ... tho I must say that your current trip often " sends me to lie down with a cold cloth on my head".

Thank you! Both!! for so much richness and your sharing of it. Elizabeth A