Week two – no internet

We spent the second week of our holiday in St. Gengoux Le National. The entire area is only serviced withEdgeand what there is only flittered in and out of the town intermittently. So, I kept notes and the entire second week follows on below. ;-(


We managed to get packed up and ‘out’ by just after 9.15am today and set off in the rain for Saint Gengoux le National, in Burgundy. Despite my fears about travelling on a national ‘fete’ day, we saw very little traffic but passed through several interesting towns that were celebrating the day.

I’m not exactly sure what it is about Bastille Day that causes so much excitement, but they do like to put on a show over here. We stopped off in one town [Château-Chinon] where they were parading up and down and dancing exactly like Morris Men. Some of the dancers were wearing stilts, some were not and some of the stilt dancers were dressed sheep – bless ‘em. In Autun, where we’d hoped to stop and have a coffee (had we not had one in Chateau Chinon) we thought about lunch, but it was pouring down, so we gave it a miss. However, we did manage to see a troop of Roman soldiers marching through the upper part of town!

Lunch was therefore al fresco at the first place we found where it wasn’t raining, wasn’t windy, had some sunshine and moderate toilet facilities.

We arrived at our destination two hours early, so we had a walk around and then drove to the next town [Cormatin] and had another walk around – this town was much busier and parking was a feat!

The gite is excellent in many ways. Its downsides (so far) are the amount of flies outside on the terrace and the number of towels we’ve been left. Neither are big problems, but niggly when you’re tired. Chicken in Ratatouille Soup for tea, with spuds and buttered yellow beans and broccoli.


A nice light shone through the bedroom window this morning, promising a nice day – it lied, but it was a nice thought. The gite has two terraces; one, just by the entrance will be ideal for eating breakfast as it catches the early morning sun, but this morning, the bedroom had caught the sun then hidden it! We ate indoors.

When we went out for a walk later, we had to wear our full ‘warm’ gear. I wore the one long-sleeved shirt I’d brought with me, long pants and my raincoat as is was so cold. Sharon was similarly attired – luckily, as it began to pour down as we started walking though the main street, where a flea market (vide grenier) was taking place. We tried again after lunch and had a good bit more success as the clouds gradually moved away and left the late afternoon warm and cozy.

We spent a good bit of the late afternoon on the main terrace – half covered decking that goes from front to back of the house. This particular piece of deck is south facing and captures pretty much all of the afternoon and evening sun – which was very pleasant. I started to read Ian Rankin’s Knots and Crosses last night – finished it today!

We had mustard pork steak for tea with sauté Lyonnaise potatoes and buttered yellow beans with broccoli.


We’d decided yesterday that we should venture out today and do a little supermarket shopping and buy some diesel – we probably have enough but we have to fill the tank right up and I don’t want to have to fill up on Friday and then add just a few litres on Saturday.

So we decided to visit Tournus and Cluny, each one about 15 miles away, probably a 45-50 mile round trip. Surely there would be a big supermarché in one of those towns (there wasn’t).

Tournus is a little way north of Macon; I’ve passed it lots of times en route to the south on the now prohibitively expensive A6 but until today, had never been. It’s not a pretty town – it’s old, but not pretty. Except the riverside, the riverside looks like it’s had some attention and it does look and feel nice; it reminded me of the Glasgow Clydeside/City centre waterfront. We drove on to Cluny.

If I had access to the Internet as I write this (I don’t) I would write so much more about the town. IT IS pretty and it does have a nice atmosphere. It’s just a little off my beaten track so I’d never heard of it before. It is very old and there is lots of roman ‘stuff’ here. We spent quite a few hours here, walking around, eating lunch al fresco, and doing some shopping – in an ATAC (another new one for me!).

We came back and strolled around Saint Gengoux before coming back for a sit-down and read on the still sunny back terrace. We had a 5% fat, shop-bought (very tasty) burger for tea, with salad – lovely. Why oh why, can’t we but radishes at home like we can here? Still with it’s greenery, in huge bunches, hot, crisp and peppery – Mmmmm.


Tuesday is market day in Saint Gengoux le National, so after breakfast (we were in no hurry) we walked into the centre and ‘did’ the market. The market took up quite a bit of the town, with the main road being closed to traffic and we saw all the usual stalls we would expect to find in a French market, except those selling live animals and those ‘own grown’ stalls we always see in Normandy. An elderly lady or gent would be sat on a chair with one or two bowls of homegrown produce for sale. We’ve seen all sorts: cabbage, beans, strawberries, onions, redcurrants, potatoes etc. But no such stalls were to be seen here.

After lunch I went for a walk. Sharon wasn’t feeling well, so I went on my own. I’d decided on day-1 that I would tackle the huge cairn on top of an adjacent hill. It turned out that the cairn was in fact a statue of the Madonna set on top of a cairn-like concrete mound and which could be seen for miles around. The views were terrific, not as far reaching as those from Sancerre but pretty good nevertheless.

And that was that, apart from tea we did pretty much nothing else except read in the late afternoon and evening sun. Finished no wonder I take a drink’ by Laura Marney.

Tea was a tin of Tartiflette! Ok – tinned food, so what? I’d never seen this tinned product before and wanted once and for all to see the difference between Tartiflette and Dauphinoise!  To be honest, I’ve only ever seen tartiflette on the menu at the tapas bar in Slaithwaite before, so it hadn’t really been part of my ‘ken’. Yet, on this year’s visit to France I’ve seen it on a number of menus and even ate it with lunch in Cluny. It seems to be dauphinoise without the cheese and with lardons of bacon added instead. I doctored it by adding some chopped up saucisson and then, just before serving, adding a piece of dry bread topped with camembert to create a crunchy top. Mmmmm again.


Another gorgeous day! We’re not too far from the Montchannin TGV station here so we set off after breakfast to check it out. I’d been curious to know what the frequency and cost of a trip to Paris (or Avignon) might be. Well, although there were adverts for €35 1st Class trips to Paris, there were no similar returns and not that much availability this week. It would have cost us €320 to go at 10:36am on Friday and come back 19:30ish – too much! But worth a look on ‘t’internet if we stay close to a TGV station again.

We then drove on to Chalon sur Saone. We didn’t like. Hard to say why, but lack of public loos, poor food and well – not sure, we were back in Saint Gengoux by mid-afternoon. We had a coffee in the other bar (the green bar) and just like the other (the red bar); they took money off us at service time. I find this distasteful in France, it’s not normal but it’s the third bar this fortnight!

Tarte flambé for tea, with salad and lashings of beer 😉

Today was the first time we’ve eaten all three meals al fresco. Nice and hot…


Today was much cloudier so after breakfast we went for a walk. It wasn’t cold but was certainly cooler than yesterday. We arrived back in the village just before 12:30pm closing time – even the boulangeries close then!

I decided that I was a big boy now and that I would ‘brave’ the boucherie rather than buying tea at the supermarket (which has a pretty poor selection anyway). I wouldn’t have gone in if no one else had been queuing but by being behind others, I was able to acclimatise to the ‘French’ being spoken. I’d decided that I wanted two veal cutlets, I could see the joint they would come from, but worried that I had enough cash! I had €20-30 with me, but two of those beauties could have easily cost €20 on their own – however, we never see veal at home and we’ve not been ‘out’ much this holiday … Anyway, the guy in front of me asked for a veal escalope and when I saw where the butcher cut it from, I decided that that was what I would ask for – two veal escalopes instead. By the time it was my turn I’d heard and remembered enough ‘French’ to buy the escalopes and two quiche d’epinard without a problem. Whayayyy!

We walked again in the afternoon, had a coffee on the main street and came back to read. I decided this morning that I was getting through ‘Breaking Dawn’ too fast so I picked a book (my third this week!) from the gite library: “Piece of My Heart”, by Peter Robinison. As write this I’m a third of the way through … touch and go whether I finish it. (I did – 24 hours!)

Guess what tea was! (with penne pasta and tomato sauce concocted from our lunchtime soup).


I’ll write up the end of our holiday later – when we’ve caught up with all the ‘stuff’ returning from holiday presents us with.


One response to this post.

  1. I enjoyed readying your Holiday Blog – nicely done!


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