Wine tasting at 10am
This morning's excursion takes us through the Beaujolais wine region known as the Pays d'Or or "land of golden stones". The scenery is beautiful with pretty hill top villages, chateaux and vineyards. The visit includes a stop at a family owned winery where we are greeted by the owner Jean-Jacques Paire. He is a descendant of a family of vine growers and winemakers established since the 1600's. We visit the wine production room and learn about the different techniques Jean-Jacques adopts for making white, rose and red wines. From here to the all-important tasting room! We taste a white and two reds and try to guess the age and nature of the wines. We do fairly well although after two glasses it begins to get more difficult. It is only 10.30am after all. Jean-Jacques is an excellent host and many guests comment it is the most enjoyable and informative wine tastings they have ever attended. Richard's group visits first and Dawn's group follows on. Richard tries to persuade Jean-Jacques not to give Dawn any wine but we understand later that he gave in to her demands.
Our excursion features a visit to the very picturesque hill top village of Oingt. Here the buildings are constructed from the golden coloured stone and very much as they have been for hundreds of years. We walk up the narrow winding streets towards the church and viewpoint at the top of the village. Richard's guide Silvie is a definite favourite, even singing to us on the way home. Naturally we join in and our French seems to have improved greatly since our early morning wine consumption. Dawn's guide (who shall remain nameless!) is not quite so favourite! She certainly knows her stuff but is a bit frantic at times and takes to spelling a lot of words. Spelling the name of a French town is fine but announcing we are heading back to the S - H - I - P is probably a bit much. However she clearly fancies Jean-Jacques and comes alive in the wine tasting!
Back on board ship it is lunch time again. There is a full service option in the restaurant and a light version in the lounge. By "light" we mean soup, salads, bread, cold meats, cheese, a pasta or alternative main dish, some cakes and more! Hardly a snack.
From Belleville we sail south back along the Saone River and through Lyon to the confluence of the Saone and the Rhone. During the afternoon there is an interesting presentation on silk painting and printing in the lounge and we are able to see and purchase beautiful silk scarves and ties. This evening the ship runs a music quiz. In teams of around 6 people each, we listen to music clues and try to name that tune and occasionally the composer too. There is some good humoured rivalry between the Brits, Americans, Canadians and Brazilians. We are happy to report a team of Furlongs guests won the big prize .... a couple of bottles of wine and some silly hats. Given the style of the hats most of us are pleased we came second or lower.