River cruise France and Belgium travel blog

Oingt, one of the prettiest villages in France

‘Michelin’ restaurant

Reception for hors d’oeuvres

Dining room

Day 11. Vienne to Belleville to Lyon

29/5/18. Monday. Cloudy, sunny, scattered showers 15-26 degrees

Today Ian and I did separate tours. I travelled on an old Roman road which was built in 1000 BC. Stops were made every 30km, as this was how far the soldiers could walk in a day. We went to the medieval village of Oingt (pronounced ‘wa’ as a baby crying) which was very small and no touristy shops, and lovely. The scenery was outstanding as we drove for an hour through the beautiful, green hills of Beaujolais wine growing area, stopping first at Oingt and then we went for a wine education and tasting at a private winery. Wine tasting in the morning?? A bit hard to handle, but I found listening to it very interesting. The wine was served with a salami type sausage and small rounds of strong Parmesan cheese; not up my alley. Ian did the tour to the Dombes region and tasted its famous specialties.......you’ll understand why when you read his report, that I chose not to go with him.

(Ian) Firstly, these were some of my Wishlist items. The original excursion was to visit a “Bresse chicken farm” and a “snail farm”, both with “tastings”. However, the visit to the chicken farm was cancelled and a frogs legs tasting put in in lieu. First stop. Frogs legs.......well, handed a small bowl in which in the bottom were two rear frogs legs. Cooked in butter, garlic and parsley. Tweezers not provided to pick up to eat so had to use fingers. Enjoyed the taste very garlicy and greasy from the butter. Very over rated in my opinion. Then onto snail farm. Well, what a shock!! The snail paddock (15m square) just looked like an over grown back yard. There were wooden structures in which the snails grew up in. What made me laugh was that the paddock had a electric fence round it to keep the little suckers in. The paddock held about 60,000 snails, harvested in September, with only the ones of correct size selected. The undersize ones left and harvested later. There was a similar size paddock that contained 150,000 baby snails. In September they are culled and the ones reaching the appropriate size are transferred to the adult paddock.

Tasting.....well done that. Very chewy. Like the frogs legs all one gets in the flavour is butter and garlic. Ps 30% of the snails are lost to predators, main one rats. Cold gets them as well.

Tonight we’re dining off the boat to ‘indulge in a decadent gourmet feast at the famous L’Abbaye de Collonges restaurant, owned by the Michelin starred chef, Paul Bocuse’, who died in January this year. After the dinner, the boat departs this town and we arrive in Lyon about midnight.

Well, we’ve had dinner and what a night! We’ve never experienced anything like it, and will remember it always. The restaurant setting was lovely and just over the road from where the boat was moored. I really don’t know how to explain the interior setting, but it was like a big music hall. The evening started with hors d’oeuvres and drinks in an outer room which was decorated in old time carousel themes. We then moved in to dinner, and when the huge doors opened, the music burst out full blast - beautiful, wonderful, amazing, loud carousel music with all the ‘musicians’ playing their instruments. Everyone just stopped and looked and listened and took photos and videos - unbelievable. We moved in and sat down for dinner and numerous times during the night, the music would unexpectedly blare out - real heart-stopping stuff. There were stairs up to a balcony where we could see a chef, and guessed he was preparing desserts. When the waiters started serving the desserts, they each had 2 plates on one hand and 1 on the other, and literally ran down the stairs. It was incredible, and when they delivered the desserts, they ran back up the stairs and got another lot and ran down again - they did this probably 5-6 times each. The evening ended with Auld Lang Syne blaring out - again unexpectedly, but our time was up - meals eaten, coffee drunk, good conversation ending. What a night!! A 5 minute walk back to the boat, all on board and we were on the move to Lyon!

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