Wine, a Medieval City, and More Wine - South of France Spectacular Day 3

August 6, 2012

Mom said it best. "I think we're going to have to detox after this trip.". Yep. Not an alcohol detox (though that'll be necessary too), but a food detox. I'd have thought she would have remembered this from Ireland. There is always food and we are always eating. It's glorious.

I might have been looking forward to this day most of all. We were off to a winery!! We boarded a bus and drove Northwest to Les Arcs. Les Arcs is a small medieval town where Saint Rosaline was buried (and is still here...and mummified...more on that shortly). Rosaline lived in the 1200's when people were very poor and very hungry. She was the daughter of the landowner and was dedicated to helping the hungry. The story goes that she was taking food from the castle to the poor when her father stopped her to ask where she was going. He told her to open her apron and instead of loaves of bread falling out, roses were there instead. Her father realized she was meant for more and she left for the nunnery. After her death, she was buried as all were in the mid-1300's, covered only in a cloth. Five years later, her brothers wanted to honor her with a better burial. When they exhumed her body, they found it smelled like roses (insert joke here) and her body was completely preserved. She became a Saint and her body has been on display ever since. In the 1800's, there was some decay, so the powers that be preserved the body with wax. Pretty neat.

We started with the wine tasting. Probably not the best thing to start with at 10a. Though I've found wine should be consumed at any time. We started with a Rose wine, the Cuvée Lampe de Meduse Cru Classe. The Cru Classe is the highest end of the wine that is produced at the Chateau Sainte Roseline. There are a few things we learned about wine in Provence.

#1 - Rose is fermented for 1.5 hours before going into a barrel/steel container. It accounts for a large amount of the wine produced at the winery and in the area. White wine is not fermented and is just added to the containers. Red wine is fermented for longer. I believe it is a month, but neither Mom nor I can entirely remember.
#2 - Wine from this region is dryer due to the soil. The grapes are grown in an area that has three levels of ground. The bottom level is rock, followed by sand, followed by clay/dirt.
#3 - Roses are planted at the start of rows of grapes. Both Roses and Vines are very hearty, but Roses will get sick earlier. So if Roses start to die in an area, the farmers know there is disease in the area. They can work to kill the disease before it damages the crops.
#4 - Grapes are picked by hand and at night. Sometimes grapes are harvested by machines, but the expensive ones are not.
#5 - When you swirl the wine in a glass, keep note of the "tears", the skim of wine on the glass. The heavier the tears, the more alcohol content of the wine. The wine we tried today had a high alcohol content.

The wine itself was ok. It wasn't anything I needed to buy. But it was nice to try. After the tasting, we went to the chapel. It was a small chapel where Saint Rosaline still hung out. They still have services every Sunday. It was very cool to go in there, but it brought up an issue that I want to rant about quickly.

If a sign tells you not to take pictures indoors, then DON'T TAKE PICTURES INDOORS!! Seriously. The sign told you not to. The tour guide told you not to. Saint Rosaline was not meant to have her picture taken. So respect that. There was nothing worse than hearing the digital clicks and noise that wasn't supposed to be clicking and noisy to begin with. Jerks.

Once the picture taking was over, we stopped into the caretaker's garden (lovely...very Pompeii-like). Then we worked our way into the cellar, where we saw the wine hanging out. It's barrels. And steel containers. There's nothing really to look at. It did smell like fermenting wine though (duh). The fermenting smell brought me directly back to childhood memories. When Dad made wine back in the day in the basement. If I heard "They're Playing Our Song" over some loud speakers, I would have wondered if I had accidentally walked into a TARDIS or if the bus was actually a Delorian or something...

We drove slightly out of town and into the medieval portion of Les Arcs for lunch. When I say medieval, I mean it. The brick buildings were built on hills and the lower levels get smaller as the building goes further down the hill. A bed and breakfast was our final stop, but we weren't staying. Just eating. We arrived in Le Logis du Guetteur, near the area where the Miracle of Roses (see above - Saint Rosaline's story) occurred. Our smaller bus was the first to arrive, which meant we could pick our seats early (insert joke here too). It also meant the Rose wine could start pouring early. I do love wine with lunch...

The nice part about the last two days (and probably more to come) was that you don't have a choice in food. You eat what they bring. I know it's way easier to do in a big group. I mean, it would be nice to find something new and fun to eat (saw Mussels yesterday and now I'm slightly obsessed with the idea of them), but it is also nice to just be given food. The lunch was good. We had a tomato gazpacho with a blue cheese, a rosemary chicken and a lovely panna cotta.

We wanted to stop in the medieval cemetery before we took off, but the rain started. The first rain we've seen in a while. Luckily, the rain just happened as we were driving back to Cannes. As we pulled into Cannes, the rain stopped. Fantastic.

Mom and I had talked about our mid-afternoon snack and how we thought it should be tea and pastries, but she took a nap and I started writing. Before we knew it, it was nearly time to leave for dinner. I decided not to change from the day. It was much cooler today, so I wasn't as sticky. Plus...I just didn't want to. My outfit this afternoon was cute. It will still be cute with a fresh coat of deodorant and lipstick.

Dinner tonight was in a town called Mougins, North of Cannes. Again, we boarded a bus to places unknown. Mom has had trouble with the busses only due to how big they are and how narrow the streets are. Also, the seemingly lack of rules of the road. I'm sure there are rules of the road (for drivers and pedestrians), but we just don't quite know them. I told her to just close her eyes while in the bus. It's better for everyone involved.

We ended up parking at the bottom on the hill in Mougins. As we walked up the hill to the Medieval portion of the city (busses could definitely NOT make it up the hill), we were greeted by the tour guides who took our Couples Picture in this picturesque area. We then hung out in a parking lot, which was filled with champagne and appetizers as we waited for dinner. Mom and I picked up a glass (she chose water) and moved over to see the scenery. And to get away from others. Mingling is not easy for me.

Our restaurant tonight was L'Amandier, a charming little spot with a third floor terrace. We sat on the terrace with our group and just looked out at the lovely scenery. The shutters were also painted a fantastic shade of blue. Similar to my living room walls (though Mom said the shutters had more turquoise in them). As it has been in the past, they just brought out the meal. Risotto, some kind of fish, and a lovely dessert platter. Tonight's meal was adequate. The risotto needed something. I don't like fish (unless it is wrapped with rice or it is part of the crustacean family) or potatoes, so the entree was lost on me. The dessert was quite good. A chocolate tart and a lemon something. I slicked that one up.

During the dinner, I mentioned something at the table about WiFi. Apparently, we do have it for free in our package. Well Dammit. Here, I had been going without for days. Honestly, though, I am more than happy to have gone without for a few days. It was nice to unplug. It is nice to be slightly plugged back in too. Especially as we get closer to the day we have to plan our own excursion.

We didn't get back to the hotel until 11p. It isn't bad to have Mom around at this time. She doesn't want to go out after dinner. And honestly, I barely do either. I'm tired by this point. So it's off to bed. The next day awaits!! With WiFi!!

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