"" Writer's Wanderings: France - Chalon sur Saone

Thursday, November 19, 2009

France - Chalon sur Saone

After spending two nights in Paris at the end of our cruise down the Seine, we boarded a train for Chalon sur Saone where we were to board the Viking Burgundy for our trip down the Saone and Rhone rivers. Actually the train went to Lyon and there we switched to a smaller train that went on to Chalon.
The first train ride was exhilerating. Bob has an app on his phone that is a speedometer and we were able to estimate the speed of the train at about 160 mph. You didn't really notice it until trees and brush close to the track passed by in a blur.
Arriving in Chalon about 11 in the morning, we walked the short distance to the riverboat dragging our suitcases behind us. (It pays to pack light!) The rooms were not scheduled to be ready until 3 p.m. but we were able to check our luggage and head off to find a restaurant for lunch.
Just up the river from the boat was a bridge that led to an island where the hospital is located. Just next to it is a street filled with restaurants. However many were not open. We finally settled on one, La Normandie, and were seated in the tiny establishment. It didn't take long to realize there was either no English spoken or they were reluctant to try. The menus had no English subtitles as we'd found in many other restaurants. But Italian dishes are the same in any language and we settled on spaghetti.
There was definitely a disadvantage to not knowing much French this day. As we watched others get their meals, we discovered that their specialty was mussels in several different broths apparantly and not just a measly dozen as we'd see in the State. Oh no, these were large bowls heaped with 6 or 7 dozen mussels and accompanied by a plate of French fries. Our spaghetti dishes were wonderful but it left me craving mussels--a craving satisfied when we found a similar restaurant offering in Nice.
The central square in Chalon was alive with a farmers' market when we first arrived. Stalls of cheese, fresh vegetables and fruits, sausage, and of course breads were abundant.
To our surprise, the city boasts of a famous son, Joseph Nicephore Niepce, who they say invented photography. He succeeded in obtaining a negative image in 1816 and then went on to get a positive one in 1822.
Since we overnighted in Chalon, we had time the next day to explore a bit more and found a beautiful garden to stroll through while enjoying what would be some of the precious few hours of sun and good weather we would have for the next week.

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