Last year, we drove from our house in central France, up to Belgium and across to Germany before embarking on our “big day” travelling homeward-bound across 3 countries (I just love that about Europe!) to complete our 3000km “loop.”
We left Stadtkyll, Germany, and arrived in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, just an hour later – and soon stumbled upon a chocolate shop (Chocolate House – Nathalie Benn) in a perfect location, directly opposite the Grand Ducal Palace.
We sat back, watching the guard marching up and back with endless precision, while we languidly stirred our “Hotchocspoon” into the hot milk, topping it with homemade marshmallow and chantilly cream, alongside an equally decadent chocolate cake.
Suitably refreshed, we made our way to the Chemin de la Corniche and tried to capture the magnificence of what has been called “the most beautiful balcony of Europe.”
For a small fee, we explored some of the 10 miles of remaining defence tunnels carved into the rocky cliffs, called the Casements du Bock. Dating back as far back as 1644, they were more recently used as shelters during World War II. I wonder how many people have traipsed these hand-carved tunnels?
We left Luxembourg and were shortly back in our beloved France, arriving in Nancy for a late lunch – somehow surprised that it’s such a big city. We were blown away by Place Stanislas – the recently restored 18th century plaza in front of the imposing town hall.
Amazing gilted iron gates and a huge archway entrance (“Arc Héré”) with fascinating buildings and enticing cafes on every side.
Quiche Lorraine anyone?
Unfortunately the perfect weather waned as we neared Dijon and we drove straight into a thunderstorm.
It was pelting down by the time we arrived at Hotel Le Jarquemart, located in the historic area of Dijon.
Having accidentally given our room to someone else with a similar name, they upgraded us to a larger room and I was proud of myself for sorting that out entirely in French – appreciating being back in a country where I have at least a partial understanding of the language.
When the rain eased off we wandered off to buy a baguette and of course a treat as well. Who can resist French patisserie?
Next morning, after a decent buffet breakfast at the hotel, we spent the morning having a better look around this gorgeous historic area.
Off to find the market, we headed the wrong direction and found ourselves at Place de La Liberation instead – but we’re glad we did!
Perhaps if we had followed the designated tourist walk, marked by owl signs, we wouldn’t have got lost at all? But it’s something we are quite used to!
The market was impressive, with a variety of goods outside and plenty of fresh produce inside, of course featuring locally made Dijon mustards.
Homeward bound, we stopped for lunch and stretched our legs at a little town called Dompierre-sur-Besbre.
And then, finally, home sweet home for some down-time… for a few weeks anyway. More adventures always await us!