We planned on leaving Paris as early as possible Saturday, anticipating traffic after listening to everyone at Le Florimond last night celebrating the start of their vacances. Larry spent almost an hour in line at the Hertz office near Invalides watching the sole clerk get flustered and slog through three people's paperwork. An older woman took over for him, and processed six people in half the amount of time. Larry returned with the car and the renewed conviction that women of a certain age should be running the world.
To our surprise, there was no traffic to speak of. Even more to our surprise, people were obeying the speed limits. When Larry was in Toulouse last month, the people he was working with had told him of some new initiatives where people's licenses get photographed when they speed, resulting in heavy fines and rapid taking away of licenses. They say it's working, and I must say it made for a big change since the last time we've driven in France.
Since we were making excellent time, we decided to get off the A6 and head over to Chablis. We drove through rolling hills covered with vines, and then parked on Chablis' main street. Chablis is a lovely town, with many beautiful old buildings. Lots of wine shops, a few restaurants, some touristy stores, but many "real" places selling everyday things. We bought two just-from-the-oven mini quiches and a small container of celeri remoulade from a prepared food store, and walked around the corner to eat on a bench fronting the small canal that runs through town.
We continued on the local roads, through hills, stubbled hayfields, small stone towns closed up till later in the day. We found Tivauche-le-Haut, a hamlet of 6-7 houses on top of a hill outside Epoisses. We met our landlords, Jenny and Bill Higgs, who renovated three of the attached houses, and run a canal boat that makes very cushy, expensive trips. Out house is beautiful, with a huge open living-kitchen-dining room and two large bedrooms. Outside is a stone terrace with a view over the hills.
After looking around and chatting, we drove into Epoisses to the "Maxi" for groceries. Epoisses is a small town, with two boulangeries, a charcuterie, a epoisses cheese factory and store, and a beautiful wreck of a chateau in the middle of town. Larry insisted on getting a cheese, which involved a lot of waiting while people discussed when they were eating the cheese and what their tastes were while the saleslady poked each cheese. People were buying several wheels at a time--one for today, one for next week, one for the week after. Larry got one small wheel for tomorrow.
We drove up a one-lane tiny road from the house, and found another tiny town atop a hill with a chateau, old abbey, and a half-way ruined formal garden. Someone has been working parts of the garden, and it looked like something out of "The Secret Garden." I'll get back there and take photos on another day.
Dinner at home, with bread, cheeses, wine, and tomatoes. The Epoisses smelled like something died inside, but was delicious with bread and wine. Rich, complex flavor that I suspect tastes best in France.