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  • Bill and Nancy

October 2000

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

We are moored here in Roanne, all snuggled in for the winter. We won't have to worry about cruising until we leave in the spring.

This is an excellent mooring with friendly neighbors and a small café just across from our boat. We have stopped in there a couple of times, and we plan to go back often for the Plat du Jour and the ambiance. The owner, Martine, is patient enough to converse with us, and it is a fun way for us to practice our French.

It was a bar that serves lunch, but we didn't know that when we ran over one evening after it had rained all day thinking we could eat dinner there since we had not been able to walk into town to shop. She explained that she only served lunch but offered to cook for us anyway.

The other night, she helped us call a cab to take us to Roanne's most famous restaurant, Troisgros.

We dined slowly and enjoyed a delicious meal, perfectly served. It was our birthday treat, and we would be happy to make it a yearly tradition. The restaurant was as fantastic as its reputation, and we wish that we could become regular customers, like the people we saw coming in greeting the staff with kisses; obviously, it was not their first time there.

Troisgros is a restaurant that people fly into Roanne to visit because it is one of France's best restaurants. Watching the other customers and the staff's skill as they anticipated everyone's next wish was part of the entertainment. We dined without feeling the eyes of our waiter watching us, but whenever we were about to want some water or more wine in our glass, he was there performing the task before we had completed the thought.

The atmosphere was comfortably elegant, friendly, and not at all pretentious. After midnight, we asked someone at the front desk to call us a cab. Explaining that it was too late to find a taxi in Roanne, he said, "Pas de probleme," and found a young employee to drive us home.

The days go by quickly here in our new port. As winter approaches, they are getting shorter, of course. We are up every morning to see the sunrise, and it is nice to stay up long enough to see the sunset. During the long days of summer, while we were working hard all day on our barge, we were going to bed while it was still light, and the sun would already be bright in the morning when we woke up.

Bikes, walking, and trains are our primary means of transportation this winter. We want to try doing without a car this year, and then we can decide whether we want to buy a car or not. The surrounding countryside is beautiful and full of small villages to explore, and we have been lucky enough to go exploring with friends who have cars.

We have already had quite an adventure driving on the small country roads with our friends from back home, Candace and Tom. We went out into the countryside in their rental car, intending just to get lost to see what we would find.

We followed a little wooden sign on one country road that pointed the way to a village with the appealing name of Dancer. After we turned at the sign, we traveled along on a small road, and soon we were going downhill. We went down, down, down, and the road continued to get smaller and smaller. It had begun like a road, but it looked quite a bit like a hiking trail by now. Unfortunately, we were already committed. The only way out was to back up, and we all agreed that would be too difficult. We crossed our fingers and continued traveling forward, hoping that the road, which was now deep in a forest, would not completely disappear. We drove through a tunnel of branches as the trail became even steeper. The situation was getting so ridiculous that we couldn't help laughing. The worse the road became, the more we laughed. How did we find ourselves in such a silly situation?

At last, we came to more small wooden signs at a crossroads, picked what looked like the better road, and we set off down another very steep, narrow, and rocky trail. It is a good thing that we were in a tiny budget rental because we could keep our wheels on the narrow path, and finally, we emerged from the forest and found ourselves in the middle of someone's vineyard. We followed the signs to the tasting room.

It was an adventure that still makes us laugh.

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