This is the chalet where the girls are staying
I printed out a route from viamichelin.com, we pulled the route up on the maps on our phones, AND we plugged it into our GPS - then we were off. I'm happy to report that we only got lost once on the way down, and thanks to my friend's text, we weren't stuck in traffic for as long as we could have been. She told me about another route to take to get us off the congested highway. Thank goodness! We were stuck on the crowded highway for probably 1/2 hour and even that little amount was almost enough to make us cranky. Almost, because we agreed before we left to try and just take the trip as it would come - getting lost, traffic, etc. Just go with it and try not to get frustrated.
We walked around the town with the dogs for quite awhile exploring, and then decided it was time for some lunch. We put the dogs back in the car to hang out while we went & ate. We found a promising looking place that had a wood-burning pizza oven, and since we are always on the lookout for good pizza for our friend Brad and all the folks at PizzaQuest.com we decided to give it a try. We knew we would be eating plenty of typical French food over the next few days so we were excited for some tasty pizza. It's always a risk in France to get pizza - while you can find it everywhere, it is often very disappointing. Too doughy, too saucy, undercooked, weird toppings you don't recognize that shouldn't be on pizza, etc.
Chez Carlotta was cute on the inside and smelled delicious, but only 1 other table had customers. We never know if that is truly a bad sign as we always seem to get the timing of our meals off - we eat too early! We got seated at a tiny table way at the back of the restaurant where it felt nice and cozy. The menu featured lots of salads and pizzas, and an offer of Lasagna Bolognese. They also had daily specials on the board as almost all restaurants do. S was very intrigued by the Lasagna Bolognese, and I chose the pizza of the day that featured egg (cooked like an omelet), potatoes, tomato sauce and ham (jambon blanc). Why this was called the Pizza Tortilla I'm not entirely sure other than it could have been a variation of a Spanish Omelet with the egg being the tortilla? I got it without the ham as I'm still just not a huge ham fan. We had salads to start and they were very good. So often the lettuce here is just so amazingly fresh and delicious that we love to get salads. Plus the true "French dressing" apparently is NOT the stuff bottled in American, but a mustard-type vinaigrette. It is almost the same dressing everywhere - luckily we like it. We ordered 1/2 bottle of chianti to go with our meal (since we still had to drive). I just love how easy it is to get 1/2 bottles of decent wine in France - I wish America had them on menus more often.
S's lasagna arrived hot & bubbling - he even took a video of it sizzling away. The pizza looked very promising when it landed on our table - thin crust, and slightly burned from the wood oven. When I bit into it I was very happy - it was just as I hoped. Good crust tasting of quality flour, not soggy under the toppings, not too much pizza sauce - just freshly smashed tomatoes - not overwhelmingly cheesy, and the egg and potato were tasty additions. Overall we were very pleased and happy with our find. The only flaw was the dessert. We ordered the chocolate cake with crème anglaise, and unfortunately it was rather dry and uninspired - kind of tasted like a strange brownie. The crème anglaise was tasty so we tried to roll each bite of cake in the sauce to make it a bit more moist and tasty. Another pleasant discovery - things are much cheaper here “in the country” than where we live next to Paris! The lasagna was 8 euros, the pizza was 10 euros, the cake was 3.50 - such a small price compared to Paris. All in all, a good restaurant we would return to and bring friends with us.
After lunch, we got back in the car and headed off again. I had additional sites planned for us to see before hitting our final destination. Next up on the list was the village of Vézelay to see the Basilique Ste-Madeleine - the largest Romanesque church in France. It also claimed in the past to guard the relics of St. Mary Magdalene, and if you go down into the crypt there is a display that supposedly contains a relic of Mary Magdalene. The church was very beautiful and full of light – again freezing cold inside. The medieval town of Vézelay looked very charming as we drove up the narrow streets to visit the Basilique – full of character and interesting buildings. Like many of the other towns we would visit on this trip, it seemed surprisingly empty. I guess February is not a busy time in Burgundy! We drove through many villages on our trip and would rarely see even one person. Very quiet and peaceful, but a little strange also. Behind the church was a beautiful area where you could enjoy views out over the valleys and hills of Vézelay.
|Even Zoe likes the view|
|Enter the village through this "gate"|
|S enjoying the cheapest beer we've had in France!|
|OK, I thought those other things in the bowl were mushrooms. But looking at this pic it looks suspiciously like a snail!|
|This sauce was made with the famous stinky cheese|
|The trio of crème brûlées - see all the liquid?|