The last day had arrived. I decided to have a little lie-in, and I just had to say a long, loving “au revoir” to “my” bathroom. Even the mirror and I had become friends. I packed my things and went down to have the last breakfast in “my” Château. I was a little sad, it had been a rich week full of wonderful encounters. But all good things must come to an end.

I entered “my” pink breakfast room and on “my” table was a surprise waiting just for me. Do you want to know what? Well, a fresh glass of bubbling crémant de Bourgogne. Hélène was just heading for the kitchen when I walked in, so she turned around and came back to the table.

“Do you mind if I join you for breakfast?” she asked.

“That would be wonderful,” I replied.

“I’ll just get a coffee,” said Hélène.

I enjoyed my crémant on an empty stomach and immediately tucked into a brioche.

When in Bourgogne, do as the Bourgignons do. Eat brioche.

Hélène returned, sat down with her coffee and, do you know, we talked about “THE” bathroom.

“Hélène”, I asked, “what possessed you to put so many mirrors in the bathroom? It’s not thaaat flattering.”

“The diplomatic answer is that we women just love to admire ourselves all around.”

“And the truth?”

“It’s just practical….need I say more?”

“And that waterfall next to the shower?”

“That was Arnaud’s idea. It’s a real photo behind a glass wall. Looks great, don’t you think?”

”Yes, especially when the water from the shower runs down it as well. When are you coming down to Brida?”

”Well, we could deliver the wine, how about that?” ”It’s a plan.” I replied.

We kept on chatting about this and that, like two girlfriends. But the time had come to say goodbye.

“Where are you staying tonight?” Arnaud asked.

”I want to get as far as Montélimar, but I don’t have anything reserved.”

“Nougat”, said Hélène.

”Voilà!” I said,

“See you in Brida.” I shouted as I drove off, putting my arm outside the window and waving goodbye.

My plan was to drive along the Rhône, but it took quite a while to get there. I decided to drive on the motorway all the way to Lyon. South of Lyon, I took the D-roads. But still, it wasn’t until Givors that I was finally on the banks of the river.

Everything was quite narrow, and the roads were busy. The cycle path on both sides didn’t help much either, but I had the opportunity to admire the river and river bank and the somewhat wild nature on the opposite side.

People actually lived on this busy road (not my cup of tea) and the slopes were protected by walls to keep the earth from sliding down onto the road. The scenery changed after a few kilometres. The landscape became flatter and the trees were replaced by factories and industrial development. A lot of built-up areas with little charm.

I pushed on, feeling disappointed. I didn’t expect so much urban development. Instead, I was expecting more landscape. I began to wonder if the autoroute might have been the more scenic drive.

Eventually, south of Tupin, I was finally rewarded. A narrow road, vineyards, lush greenery. Just a pity about the railway being directly next to the road.

For the uninitiated, driving on French country roads can be confusing. It happened to me here. I started on the D386, continued on the D1086 and then found myself on the D86. For a little while I felt lost when I realised that I had crossed from the Rhône to the Loire to the Ardèche Departments. The road was physically the same, just with different numbers.

I needed to pee. By the time I got to Tournon-sur-Rhône, it was getting critical.

Stopping, I discovered that I could also sit and have a sandwich directly by the river.

I admired the old bridge and the vineyards on the hills on the opposite bank. Looking at my phone, I learned that I was looking at the Ardèche and Drôme departments.

I continued, and finally, I was rewarded. Pure nature. On my left the river, parking bays, and beautiful scenery. I was driving directly next to the river and could even have jumped in for a swim. It was incredibly beautiful between La Voulte sur Rhône and Le Bourg.

The radio was on, and by sheer coincidence, as I was passing the “les ruines de Prieuré St Pierre de Rompon”, the radio played Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran. I sang it at full volume and to my ears, I sounded fantastic. Apparently, it is a great place for a scenic view of the Rhône and the region.

Finally, outside Rochmaure it was time to leave my beloved companion, the departmental road and continue on a different one and finally cross the beautiful Rhône river and arrive in Drôme. It took two bridges to cross the river and the canal, and soon I found myself on the outskirts of Montélimar.

All I needed to do now, was find a place to sleep. My trusty SatNav directed me to the tourist information, where I screeched to a halt. The sweet person behind the counter recommended a B&B with a rather plush English name.

Yes, there was a room available.

No, it didn’t have a car park, but parking was close by, on the street.

Yes, it was in the centre of town.

No, it wouldn’t be obvious to find.

Yes, it would do me for the night.

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