Truffle hunting with Amy
We leave our ship at St Etienne des Sorts and drive to Grignan, a little village perched on a rocky hill and owing its fame to the aristocratic Madame de Sevigne. She stayed at the Chateau de Grignan while visiting her daughter, Madame de Grignan. Built during the 15th and 16th centuries, the chateau is one of the finest Renaissance buildings in this region of France. Nearby is an orchard and farm belonging to a truffle-harvester called Serge. Richard met Serge during his recce last year and was so taken with his knowledge, fun and enthusiasm that this became a "must do" visit. Harvesting of the black truffle takes place from mid-November to mid-March and the truffles grow a few inches underground so they are very difficult to detect! For this reason pigs, or more recently dogs, have been used to sniff out truffles. Serge's little dog Amy is a real star. Not always behaving as Serge would like but she discovers truffles and has fun on the way. And so do we.
We re-join the ship in Avignon, enjoy lunch and then head out for a tour of our choice ... an excursion to Pont du Gard the famous Roman aqueduct, an Avignon walking tour including entry to the Popes' Palace, or a cooking experience with a local chef. Guests are heading in all directions and the only way to keep track in Avignon is for Richard to use a bicycle! This is relatively successful apart from the cobbled streets!
On board this evening we enjoy a Provencal style dinner followed by entertainment in the form of Paolo. He plays keyboards, sings and has a suitcase with props. More or less every tune he plays prompts a change of hat or wig. Completely bonkers but nice with it.