Monday September 21
Breakfast today consisted of many varieties of croissants. We left Carcassone for a tour of a vineyard that was owned and operated by Serge and Sylvie. The vineyard had been in the family for many generations. The family name traced back to the Knights Hospitaller, who emerged at the same time as the Knights Templar (about 1100 AD). Sylvie truly loves everything about the vineyard, including the grapes, the soil, and the vines. They make twenty-five kinds of wine there, and our tour included tastings of different whites, reds, and rosés. I never tasted French rosé before and I found it light and delicious.
Serge no longer works in the vineyard. Instead he has taken over the cooking, so he prepared a little buffet lunch for us: green salad, rolls stuffed with fish paste, broad beans, lentils, two kinds of goat cheese and three of cow’s milk cheese, a leek and mushroom gratin, and lamb stew. This feast couldn’t have been fresher or more delicious. For dessert we enjoyed peaches from their trees in syrup that was made by Serge. Of course, white, red and rosé wines were available. In evaluating the tour, the Rick Steves Company asks participants if they experienced a “Wow! Moment”. My Wow! Moment was looking out over the vineyard and the French countryside as we sat on the patio enjoying this magnificent meal.
How many unbelievably beautiful sights can one see on the same day? We were on our way to the Pont-du-Gard aqueduct. The amazing bridge was built in 19 BC! With many of our fellow travelers, we hiked up to the top and had great views across the bridge. Youngsters were splashing about in the river, deliberately.
Back on the bus, we went on to our next destination, the city of Arles in Provence. Our room was on the third floor of the hotel, and yes, we had to carry our own luggage, as we had been forewarned. It wasn’t a problem. After doing some laundry, we all went out to dinner together. Our meal: bruschetta (toasted French bread with pesto, ham, and tomato), gazpacho, mackerel with veggies, and wine courtesy of Toni.
6,247 steps, but the pedometer was missing for awhile.