The next morning, I woke up a little later than usual, still a little bit in a Cassis haze. I thought I would grant myself a lazy day, a little pampering in the bathroom and give the Pink Lady a little rest too. I spent the day pottering around the hotel before I decided to walk to La Rochepot.
“It’s only an hour.” said Hélène. “There are paths by the road, you can’t really get lost.”
But I did, anyway, because I can!
I wanted to have a look at the castle of La Rochepot. Whenever I drove to Beaune, it intrigued me, sitting at the top of the hill. It had a magnificent roof, and coloured tiles, like the Hospice in Beaune. To my surprise and disappointment, it was closed!
La Rochepot doesn’t really offer much else by way of a spontaneous coffee, but I have my connections. I was rescued by none other than Jean, who hurtled past in his van and stopped.
“What are you looking for?” He asked.
”I need a coffee!” I replied.
”Where is your car?”
“Back at the hotel.”
“Did you walk from there to here?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes. I did. But my luck is turning against me. Your local castle is closed, and a lady can’t even get a cup of coffee anywhere here!”
“Hop in, poor lady” he said, opening the passenger door. “I know where you can get the best coffee.”
We sped off, and 2 minutes later, arrived at his farm. Aline was just outside when we pulled up.
“Where did he pick you up?” She asked me.
Jean said, “Not so many questions, Madam is desperate for a coffee.”
“Ah”, said Aline, “so am I, and I could use the company. Come on in, let’s drink a coffee together.”
Once we had settled down in her office, she continued.
“You’re back in Brida next week, non?” asked Aline. Always the businesswoman.
“Yes, around the middle of next week,” I replied.
“So, do you want your meat delivered next week or the week after?”
“Oh, no, as soon as possible.”
“Well, you can take it now, if you are in such a hurry.”
“No, by the end of next week will do just as good.”
We got into chatting about this and that and a little later, Aline asked,
“Shall I get Jean to drive you back to the hotel? He has to drive in that direction anyway, so he can drop you off.”
It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, I nodded gratefully, as I drank another sip of coffee. As I turned to wave goodbye to Aline, I thought, not only is she a smart businesswoman, but she is also very practical and down to earth. Just like me!
Hélène saw me as I tried to sneak into the hotel unnoticed (I wasn’t looking and feeling my best).
“Did you have a good walk?” she asked.
“Hmm, yeesss, but it was a long way to La Rochepot and not much to see.”
“The Château was closed again?”
“Hmmm, I nodded, “and not a cup of coffee in sight anywhere.”
“Ah, but you bumped into Jean and Aline rescued you.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“I saw you walking from the car.”
“Yes, they were my saviours.”
“Hmm, they are good people,” said Hélène. “Aline can deal with many situations.”
“I need to soak my feet and the Pink Lady wants to rest. Any chance of anything to eat here?”
Hélène replied, “If you don’t mind sharing the table with two other guests and us? We have some people over for dinner, you’re welcome to join us.”
“But won’t I disturb you?”
“No, not at all. The more, the merrier.”
“Really? Do you mean that? Are you sure? I don’t want to impose.”
“Don’t be so silly. It will be a perfect evening. Just be ready for about 7 for the Apéro.”
Suddenly, it went click, “Oh, yes, I have a little something for both of you, I will bring it with me later.”
When I arrived “a little after 7pm,” clutching the bottle of Crème de Cassis, everybody was already there. Hélène looked at me,
“Sorry”, I whispered, “I could live in that bathroom of yours.” “I knoowww,” she replied, with a large smile. “I designed it!” “You are soooo wicked,” I said.
Arnaud joined us, giving me the chance to get rid of the bottle…. “Here, I said, a little forget-me-not.”
Once relieved, Hélène turned and introduced me to Hannelore and Heinrich.
“They are clients from Germany, who want to buy some of our wine.”
And by way of introducing me, she started chiding me about my Pink Lady.
“Oh, so you are the person with the pink “Ente”?” asked Hannelore.
“Ente? What do you mean?” I asked back.
“The pink car outside, is that yours?” asked Hannelore.
“Yes, it is,” I replied, “and I am rather proud of it! It suits me to the bone.”
“Yes, the “Ente” is well known, but, the colour? It is hmmmm, how can I say it in English, original?”
“Just like me!”
And where did you drive from, I don’t recognise the 66 on your number plate. Where is that?” asked Heinrich, entering the conversation.
“Well, it’s a little further away…..I live near Perpignan, close to the border to Spain.”
“Did you drive from there to here in THAT car?” asked Heinrich (he probably had a big fat BMW sitting outside in the courtyard.)
“Ooohh,” I thought, “being a little pompous, are we?”
Smiling sweetly, I shrugged my shoulders in the typical Gallic fashion, “pourquoi pas?” Why not?
“It must have taken you a very long time,” he said.
He was beginning to irritate me… “and where did you race from?” I asked.
Hélène came to my rescue. “I think Vicky prefers the scenic routes and stops at all the beautiful places we have along the way, here in France.”
Heinrich didn’t know what to say, a little nonplussed, he was, the poor man. “We live in Munich,” he finished.
Arnaud appeared from nowhere with the apéritifs.
Vicky was soooo kind to give us this vraiment excellent Crème de Cassis and I chose a special red wine from my private cellar. We call this a “communard”.
Arnaud 1, Maurice 0, I thought, thinking about my lovely time with Elise and Viviane yesterday.
Hannelore saved the moment by raising her glass and said “Zum wohl. Oh, pardon, I mean, santé.”
Somehow we managed to break the ice, and both wanted to know about my adventures with my Pink Lady. Leaving me to my fate, Arnaud and Hélène disappeared into the kitchen to check on dinner.
Over dinner, we exchanged travel notes (I talked about my trip to England and the good food there), the beautiful “off the beaten tracks” here in Bourgogne, and of course, not forgetting the food.
“I love the way you approached this,” said Hannelore. “Imagine, asking a waiter at a restaurant to help you!”
I shrugged my shoulders, “pourquoi pas?”
Heinrich, now getting a little less tongue-tied, “I didn’t know that women can be so, hmmm, like a Don Juan….”
I fixed him in my eye, and replied, “Whatever it takes.”
Heinrich, equally unperturbed, said, “I think I need to spend more time in France.”
“Indeed,” I said. “There is always something to experience here.”
“Speaking of experiences,” said Arnaud, “I have a little surprise, and I think, dear Vicky, even YOU have not heard of this. I have an excellent supplier in Beaune ….”
“Arnaud, are you telling me, I have missed something….?” I asked.
“Quite possibly yes, and that surprises me, Vicky!”
He placed a silver dish containing madeleines and macaroons in front of us. They were smaller than usual, and they were green and pink (!!!!)
Arnaud said, “This is very unusual because what you will get is not what you see.” “Try one,” said Hélène.
“Let me be predictable,” I said and reached for a pink macaroon and gently bit into it. I was surprised by the heated tanginess, a touch acidic, all mixed with the sweetness of the macaroon dough. My eyes widened to those of an owl.
Hélène said, “Voilà, macaroons with black current mustard.”
Hannelore continued, “I think these green madeleines look intriguing. Mint perhaps?” She bit enthusiastically and stopped, surprised.
Immediately Hélène said, “ah…yes, this is not really a completely sweet madeleine, but a delicate balance, savoury, sweet with tarragon mustard…. Madame, you are experiencing a very modern trend, chez nous!”
The evening continued with a lovely cup of coffee and Arnaud told us about his friend’s “shop” in Beaune.
Which, of course, I was obliged to visit! Unlike the suggestion Heinrich made, to visit castles and drink beer in Bavaria.