Twice The Fun in the Twin Towns of Tournons and Tain l’Hermitage

Dear Readers:

More fun with food today, but first a walk through the “Garden of Eden”.  Our day started as we docked in Tain l’Hermitage, another medieval town with a strong wine producing tradition. A pair of swans floated by our window as we left on our exploration of Tournons. We walked across a foot bridge which was the first suspension bridge in Europe and into the medieval town of Tournons sur Rhône. At the end of town, some enterprising person created a lavishly landscaped garden path up to an amazing overlook of both towns and named it the “Garden of Eden”. As we waited for the attendant to arrive for the day (it was a Sunday morning, and he was moving slowly), Jim was adopted by one of the garden cats. Then we hiked up to see the amazing flowers and the views up and down the Rhône.Tain l'Hermitage & Tounons sur Rhone-32Tain l'Hermitage & Tounons sur Rhone-40

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We had to scurry to return to the ship for our first activity of the day: a cooking class and wine and cheese tasting at the cooking school, “Scook”, run by the famous French chef, Anne Sophie Pic. Chef Pic’s restaurant was the first woman-run restaurant to receive three Michelin stars. The cooking school, one of the Pic restaurants, and a luxury B and B are located inn the small town of Valence, about 30 minutes from Tain l’Hermitage.  We tried our hand at making a tomato and poached egg dish with a tomato foam (quite the molecular gastronomy experiment), but mine was a failure as I blew tomato foam all over the place! Oh, well … I can’t say this is a recipe I am likely to repeat, but the wine and cheese lesson was the best part of the class.

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For such tiny towns, there’s a lot going on here!  For our afternoon activity, we caught the little train that runs around Tain l’Hermitage and up through the vineyards on the hills atop the town. Needless to say, we had fabulous views of the vineyards and the Rhône below!  I continue to be captivated by the random red poppies that are blooming everywhere, and especially among the rows of grape vines!

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Upon returning to the main part of town, we had the option of jumping off the train at Valrhona’s Cité du Chocolat; a huge museum and emporium devoted to the art of chocolate-making by one of the best choclatiers in the world!  As I prepared to experience “death by chocolate”, Jim wandered off to find the tasting rooms of some of the local vintners.  I think it is fair to say we both emerged from our explorations happy and contented!

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Sadly, then it was time to sail away on our return to Lyons, where our river cruise will end. However, we managed to have a truly lovely farewell dinner with our new-found friends, Jay & Susan, Ken and Jean, with the hope that we can all travel together again soon!

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