Roanne & vicinity

The possibility to create e a new blog page last week was obstructed –well, postponed- because we experienced the pleasure to be visited by a lovely couple from the UK. The four of us met in Lyon on Saturday the 18th of January, later in the afternoon. That evening we discovered an attractive little restaurant for dinner. The atmosphere was great, we even sang for a birthday boy at the table next to ours after which the entire crowd applauded. Sorry, no pictures. The next morning we had the luck to find a great restaurant for breakfast close to our one-night-hotel. This picture shows the interior. Just glorious.

After our breakfast we had an extensive walk around Lyon. A striking feature was this covered merry-go-round. The young Lyonnais can have a ride 365 days a year – once every four years even 366. Both ladies do not throw a glance at it; they are too busy talking about more important things, no doubt.

Two impressive rivers merge within Lyon’s boundaries, being La Saône and Le Rhône. This one is La Saône. We are definitely planning to offer you a picture in the future of the spot where they actually merge. We will surely visit this inviting city again – if only because we have tickets for a concert next month in Lyon by (who would ever guess???)….. André Rieu and his orchestra.

That same Sunday we had lunch in the old city, situated on the right bank of La Saône. Again a great atmosphere, friendly staff, good food - reasonable prices too. The pictures on the wall are all unrecognizable as none of them depicts a celebrity. All pictures are of ordinary customers. So, if you want to be on the wall in this restaurant, just hand over a framed picture of yourself –or anybody you choose- and there is a reasonable chance that you will be on one of the walls for at least the foreseeable future. This is all for the moment about Lyon because (a) more research has to be done about this city to be able to deliver some sensible comment on the pictures and (b) it would take away the chance to pay attention to what happened last week.

Not all that far from where we live in the winter, a dam is built in the river La Loire, the longest river in France – 1.012 kilometers (630 miles). The dam has formed Le Lac de Villerest, 36 kilometers (22 miles) long, surface 770 hectares (1.900 acres). This picture shows that the level can change considerably, leaving a clearly visible trace on the shore.

The Lac de Villerest seen from a higher point of view. On the right hand side the medieval part of the village of Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire is visible. The volume of the lake is an astonishing 123 million cubic metre, being 123.000.000 x 220 for GB-gallons or 123.000.000 x 264 for US-gallons. Our calculator does not have enough positions to show us a sufficient amount of noughts! So we leave the answer to our UK and US-readers.

The medieval part of Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire from a closer point of view. The steep path, leading from the main road could not keep us from exploring this absolutely picturesque little village.

This is how the French supposedly built their villages in medieval times, although roof and chimney on top of the house in the centre are giving a more present-day impression.

Another charming view with the lake just visible in the background.

This is the former castle’s watchtower (‘donjon’), already visible on the 6th picture of this blog. This tower provides wonderful views from the highest point of the village.

Speaking of wonderful views from the top of the tower, here is the first one. It gives a good impression of the surroundings – and the sun did not even shine!

And the second one. The village from the top of the tower. It was really worth the climb – some 88 steps.

Halfway down the tower there is this view to the outside. There’s no more to it than a simple “doesn’t it make a nice picture?”

Being medieval all over, the village’s only open restaurant turned out to have a real avant-garde toilet. It’s a pity that we are unable to show you a more panoramic picture of it. ‘The facilities’ as sometimes called in the UK or even ‘the bathroom’ in the US, are for sure worth a visit in this restaurant, irrespective of mother nature’s call – and that’s what we did, all four of us.

One of the features in ‘the bathroom’ was this calendar. The explanation regarding the sheet of white paper made us look at it in a completely different way.

The ‘Barrage de Villerest’ divides the huge artificial lake from the river Loire where the latter regains its original appearance. The dam serves several important purposes, like providing drinking water, keeping sufficient water levels upstream of the dam, preventing floods downstream of the dam, securing sufficient cooling water for two nuclear reactors downstream (Belleville and Dampierre) and finally it serves the production of electricity – an annual 167 million KWh.

About a kilometer downstream of the dam the river is, understandably, still pretty wild. It makes for a nice picture. The bridge was the most important one in the past; now it is the bridge on top of the dam. The far side of the river shows an open mine. Now we know where all the red stuff, that we encounter everywhere in France (pavements, cycle tracks, footpaths, squares), comes from!

On Tuesday evening we were invited by our visitors to have diner in a well known restaurant in Roanne. The restaurant is called ‘Le Central’, part of the famous ‘Maison Troisgros’, for a respectable number of years a three-star-Michelin-restaurant in Roanne. See in case you are interested. We are told that Troisgros is visited from all over France (and beyond) – even by private plane, as there is an airfield nearby. The food was beyond any description, in the good sense that is. Thank you ever so much, L&S!!

The river on Sunday the 26th of January. See the pictures of last week. A bit lower and quieter now. Hope to ‘see’ you next week!