Saturday morning. It's still overcast, but at least it's dry, and... cold! The temperature hovers around freezing point, but we're getting used to it now and inside the central heating is keeping the place nice and warm. The baker arrives at around 10am and we again we have a good choice of the various breads and pastries she carries: pain complet, baguettes, brioche, St GeniS cakes, croissants, etc. Instead of the gateaux we had last week we want to try a St GeniS cake. It's not cheap, but we really like to try the local food. So, we enjoy a piece of cake with our morning tea:
Since the weather isn't too crash hot (pardon the pun!) we want to avoid visiting the supermarket in St Etienne every few days, so I try and prepare a shopping list for a whole week. As René seems to shop at different supermarkets and we like to replace most of the items with the brands he uses we have to visit more than one shop: Super U, Dia and Lidl. The latter two are easily found, both in St Etienne as well, so we work through the shopping list in one go. Most of our time we spend at Lidl. It has the 'flavour' of Aldi, but is much bigger and has a huge assortment of perishables. By the time we've finished shopping and filled up the car it's way past lunch time, so it's straight home we go for a bite to eat.
It's easy to stock up on fresh products, even if the fridge isn't very big, because the cellar is almost as cold as the fridge. There are numerous crates with apples from the farm which need to be turned at regular intervals. Frank has volunteered to do so, but even though it's being done regularly there are heaps of apples that have to be thrown out. Since we like apple sauce quite well he spends some time cooking. Way better then throwing all those apples in the bin...
Sunday 2 December
Oh, have I told you that we have solved the problem we had with the beds? I don't think so. Well, since none of the earlier solutions worked and the mattresses insisted on sagging in the middle, we decided to take a bed each. No more climbing up from the centre to the edge of the bed all night! No keeping Frank awake with my reading light, no waking me up when Frank needs to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
So, come Sunday morning we get up refreshed and discover that......... it's snowing! Ever so lightly, no more than a sprinkling, but it's a sight for sore eyes, in particular after all the rain:
Oh, and do you see the little pot in the window sill? It contains three hyacinths and Christmas decorations. We saw it in the shops and I just had to have it. Christmas without a tree is bad enough, so at least we can brighten up the room a bit. We also bought a huge Christmas Star with lights, for which we have to yet find a spot, but it will happen...
Since the rain had stopped we had decided yesterday that today would be a good day to go to Grenoble, a drive of approx. 56 km. Now, that was going to be a bit tricky. Were we going to have more snow? Would it be worse in Grenoble, the town being closer to the mountains? We decided to take the chance, and look what happened on the way:
|A break in the clouds and the sun illuminates the snow in the distance|
|Just past Roybon we see a bit more snow|
|On the way to Grenoble it gets worse|
|The mountains close to Grenoble|
When we finally arrive in Grenoble, a beautiful old city, it's very hard to find a parking spot, even on a Sunday. People actually live in the city and the streets are very narrow, like in every old town, so cars are parked everywhere and more often than not also double parked. The snow, wet roads and the tram lines don't much to help making driving in the city any easier, but finally we find a spot not too far from the centre.
Just past this statue we came upon the farmers' markets, in open air and covered. We were amazed again by the choice of food, like we were in America. I think that the closest we get to these kind of markets in Australia are those in Melbourne, but the variety was fantastic. We also discovered a little coffee stall where we had a nice cuppa. Yep, those French know what coffee should taste like! :-) The stall also sold warm wine, like so many other stalls we saw later. Kevin would have liked it here!!! ;-)
Since I was wearing my very old gloves, that were far too tight, and had left my woollen hats at home we walked into a shop to see what was available. Of course I had to try out the wares (but didn't like them enough to buy):
On our walk we came upon early Christmas markets. That was a nice surprise. I have always thought of Christmas markets as being in Germany only, but to find them here, in the south of France was great. Even greater was the fact that the snow kept falling.
Like at most markets, and in particular in winter, you see all these glorious food stalls mostly with hot food. This first one sells hot chestnuts
and the next one sandwiches raclette, although I have no idea what the raclette means in English. Have a good look at the picture. The half cheeses in the stands are heated by way of pushing down the copper coloured parts. The cheese melts and runs onto your plate which contains an assortment of meats and bread or hot potato if I am not mistaken.
After lunch it was time to go back home, because the snow was coming down in al earnest now and we didn't know what the state of the roads was going to be like. We walked past the last few stalls and came upon one that sold hats, scarves and gloves. By that time we were really frozen, so we stopped to by a pair of gloves each and I loved the little hats, so bought one of those too to keep me warm.
On the way back, when out of the city, the roads were slowly being covered with snow and we were regularly warned: deneigement en cours (snow removal current) so please be careful...
And indeed, we had a few hairy moments, but not too bad. The weather really closed in around us and we could no longer see any mountains. Luckily the snowfall lessened closer to home and the view improved. We got home without problems, but needed some time to warm up again. ;-)