Today was always intended to be more relaxed, away from large cities, with less driving, and that on country roads. With no need of an early start, we planned to be moving about 9 am so there was time to relax before we set off for the day.
We let Callum rest until sometime after 8 am and then encouraged him to come down for breakfast. Once he had eaten he helped Majella retrieve the dried laundry from the ceiling hanger.
Just after 9 am I drove out, heading for Bourg en Bresse to visit the Wednesday market I had read about. That was an easy drive of about 40 km on country roads. We passed through several villages among a mix of fields of grain and forest and saw a few of the hundreds of small lakes characteristic of the Bugey region.
Given what I thought was the reputation of the Bourg en Bresse market i expected we would find it easily by signs. That didn’t happen and neither was it easy to find somewhere to park the car and explore on foot. Eventually we stopped and changed drivers. I started navigating to the Office de Tourisme hoping to find a parking spot along the way. Before we had gone far we spotted the market and, after several circuits of a crowded car park found a space.
Then began the market crawl. Majella was determined to leave no stall unvisited so we walked to the bottom of the market and wended our way to and fro checking every stall. The stalls at the end where we started had clothing (often of Islamic style), books (including the Koran), and kitchen gadgets. As we progressed we found jewellery, wallets, and similar accoutrements. Eventually we reached the food section with cheese, horse meat, other meats, fruit, and vegetables. Callum needed sustenance in the form of a hot dog before we finished that. Majella bought a blouse, some small items, and some cheese and fruit.
Once we had finished our shopping we walked back to deposit the treasures in the car and then walked toward the city centre in search of lunch. Majella was briefly distracted by an ice cream shop but eventually moved on in search of food via a couple of bars until we reached a small cafe. Callum had french fries and a strawberry milkshake. Majella and I shared a small baguette with mozzarella, basil and tomato washed down with coffees.
We made our way back to the car and set off for our next stop. I had pencilled in a visit to another village and a bird park with exotic species from around the world but plans change. On Monday Callum had expressed interest in walking through forest so last night we searched for some possibilities and found a website promoting tourism in the Bugey-Pérouges area. I downloaded a book with 7 suggested walks and selected Sentier de l’arboretum at Saint-Vulbas expecting that might offer some educative material about vegetation as well as a short gentle walk.
Saint-Vulbas was another pretty French village but it offered no indication of where the arboretum might be and the map on the website was imprecise. Majella asked some women who knew nothing of it so we did the best we could to follow the map and parked down a short ‘no thoroughfare’ road near where the map suggested. There we found a trail the led us on a short level walk along a treelined stream. It was a warm day and walking in the shade was welcome. Along the way we spotted some blue flashes in the sunlight that we thought were butterflies but on closer inspection found them to be dragonflies. Majella and Callum also found some small green frogs in the stream and I spotted a swimming water rat that took fright at seeing us and disappeared among foliage. Callum spent some time watching a variety of fish swimming in a small pool near where we entered.
On the short drive back to our accommodation we stopped at the supermarket in Meximieux to pick up provisions for dinner. We already had some from the market but Majella wanted sausages among other things. I assumed she meant cold meat sausage but she planned to cook sausages for dinner.
Among the things Majella bought at the supermarket was a tub of ice cream (she was still needing it) but she had forgotten that the refrigerator has no freezing compartment. The only solution was to eat the ice cream, mango and passion fruit, as soon as we arrived.
With plenty of afternoon remaining to relax, Majella got Callum and me playing Jenga and Pickup Sticks briefly. By 4 pm we’d done with that. Callum went outside to play basketball with the hoop in the backyard and I went for a walk along the pedestrian path to Pérouges. That wasn’t a difficult walk but it helped to loosen up some muscles. The old town was busier than we had seen it on Monday evening with a tour group at one of the restaurants.
After I got back from my walk, Majella roped us into posing for her classic French photo – complete with berets and baguette on a bicycle built for three. Jean, our host, really does have some interesting bric-a-brac.
For our 3 course dinner, Majella fried her sausages with an onion and served that with tomatoes, the soft goats milk cheese, and crusty bread. Second course was a bowl of cherries, strawberries, and raspberries bought at the market. That was followed by dessert of shared millefeuille and strawberry tart from a patisserie in Bourg en Bresse. Callum enjoyed apple juice from the market and declared it excellent with taste that started ‘up there’ and tailed away smoothly unlike some he had tasted. Majella and I enjoyed a light Côtes du Rhône red.
As we finished dinner we enjoyed some conversation about plans for tomorrow and aspects of family history that interested Callum. After all that was done and I had washed up it was not yet 8 pm so we had ample time to relax before bedtime.