I’m still without internet and am reduced to using it in the creepy McDonalds in Valence, because that’s absolutely the only thing open on a Sunday. And as I type, a woman with few teeth is sitting across the room from me singing along to the music. Or muttering along to it in imitation English. Now I know how all the odd people in town pick up the random English phrases… Anyway, I’m going to try to make a quick post.
After visiting Nice and the French Riviera, me and my parents took the train up to Valence. We mainly walked around the town that day and saw the river. The next day, we visited more of Valence and saw the big sites like the park and the cathedral. It’s interesting how a city changes when you see it through someone else’s eyes. I’ve lived in Valence now for over six months, but being with my parents made me notice things all over again. This was mostly good, like appreciating again how spectacular the park is on first viewing and how charming the cobblestone streets are. It was also a little bad, as the creepy men in the streets and the trash on the sidewalk stood out a lot more to me.
Their second day in Valence, we took the train over to Tain l’Hermitage. Every other time I’ve visited Tain, I’ve gone to the Valrhona chocolate store first and then climbed up the vineyards. This time, in order to avoid that ill feeling you get scaling a hill with a stomach full of chocolate, we did the opposite. It was a clear and beautiful day and little yellow flowers had grown amongst the vines. I was surprised that there were still no leaves on the plants, but I guess it’s still early spring.
I still haven’t found the most direct route up and down the hill of vineyards, but it was nice to wind around and see the Rhone Valley from the top. Later, after the chocolate store and on the way back to the train station, we stopped at a wine store and sampled some of the regional wines. Apparently the Hermitage wines are only produced on the hill behind Tain l’Hermitage where we walked and are therefore more valued. There are also Crozes-Hermitages that are produced in the surrounding area. We ended up buying a Saint-Joseph that was produced in the Ardeche across the river.
Eventually, we made it over to the church at the top of the vineyards. It doesn’t get much more picturesquely French than the old stone Church surrounded by vines and flowers. When I’d first come up to the church when my friend Randall was visiting, we took the most direct, but nearly deadly steep route. I had sworn to never do that again. Nevertheless, this was the way we decided to take down and it was as much sliding as walking. Luckily, I didn’t have to use my French health insurance and we somehow all made it down the slippery 45 degree angled dirt path. We were rewarded with many chocolate samples at Valrhona and then had lunch across the river in Tournon-sur-Rhone before later going back to Valence for the evening.