Wednesday, October 13, 2010

La Drôme : Saou and Saint Médard

I’m keeping on with the summer vaca series because the photos/road trip experience was so great.

I could just tell it in pictures, but then you wouldn’t know about all the stuff!

Because as we all know, stuff is really important. So bear with me. I promise you pretty pictures…and stuff.

So just like before…ruins, empty churches, and now lots of Dutch people in motorhomes.

We hit a couple of villages on the way out of the gorge and tried to hit Saoû for lunch.

Meal times are even more important while road tripping. If you don’t hit the time (12 to 2) correctly, you may not eat.

There are no McDonalds or supermarkets on the side of these small roads. You may hit a town with only 1 restaurant and if you miss lunch and haven't eaten breakfast, you are screwed until 19h (7pm). Which has been known to make some people inexplicably cranky and punchy.

So, Saoû (pronounced Sue) is a small city (and by that I mean a village with 2 restaurants and 1 corner store) on the edge of a large plateau/mountain of limestone.

It makes for steep white lines topped with a deep and lush green. In summer it is crawling with French and Dutch people. (The Dutch, it seems, are particularly keen on motor homes and the South of France. Goedemiddag to you!)

At 13h30 (1:30pm) we arrive and I get out and find a table in the restaurant in the center of town. I wait for 10 minutes before anyone comes within spitting distance of the table. And apparently lunch is over.

At 13h40 (1:40).

Holding onto my self restraint, I ask where one can eat. We are in luck, there is another restaurant.

Maybe if we run, they will serve us. Please, please, please, let them serve us. So I don't have to come back and murder the rude restaurateur.

So we rush over to the restaurant #2.

Preface: It is something that strikes me as odd that in the middle of nowhere forestland that you can have really good food. Middle-of-big-city kind of good food.

These places are much closer to farm fresh ingredients but you expect that they just wouldn’t care about it as much. It is just food.

But they do. God bless them, they do. Because they are French.

As you can see, we got served at the other restaurant. By nice people, in a converted farm, with excellent and pretty food.

Andalusian gazpacho with balsalmic vinegar and Roquefort cheese appetizer.

So at this point, I have eaten well, I am ready for a hike and I really want to camp. We go to buy some local products in a brewery (this mini town is shaping up to be quite swanky) and there is a young kid running the front. We got warned about camping but I think this kid might know if we are really going to get in trouble for camping or not.

Which, apparently, is yes. He and his friends got caught twice. 400 euro fine and ranger escort back down. And he is a local!

Ugh! I know this will probably be one of our last chances to camp. The further south you get, the less wooded it is and the MORE people there are. Paris is 75% empty and all those parisians are in the South (Plus the Dutch caravan parade). You are lucky if you can find a spot to pee in.

So, the nice kid gives us a recommendation for camping. But what about our 5 hour hike? We decide just to drive into the forest and randomly stop.


We hike vertically up 50 minutes. I am expecting a shack covering an old church, like our first hike. But I am wrong and we are lucky for the 2nd time that day.

St Médard is an old 1 room chapel. Recently cleaned up and refortified by a local catholic group.

We have a beautiful view on all sides and watch the colors change with the fading sun as we hike back down.

Well fed, exhausted. I am happy.

And we get to camp.

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