Thursday, 1 October 2015

Fun and Eating in Autun

Thursday 1st October 2015.

Autun, is 290 metres above sea level, which presumably accounts for the cool (actually, bloody cold, at 2C), start to the day. 

The good news is, the weather forecast says it will be another sunny 20C plus day, the bad news is, the weather forecast is wrong. It stays cloudy and positively cold for most of the day. It is not until about 16:00 the sun puts in an appearance.

Not to worry, today's plan is to visit some of the interesting "cultural" sites, eg, Cathedral, Roman Remains, etc.

I am pleased to say, the plan comes unstuck, in the nicest possible way!

We set off from the campsite on foot, armed with our tourist map, and walk along "Promenade Albert Montmerot", by the river, then, with much consulting of our map, through a tangle of streets to the Cathedral.

By chance, we meet our German neighbours, who tell us, yesterday, in the heat, they were looking for ice cream, today, it is so cold, they are looking for a place which sells hot tea with rum in it!

The Cathedral is very impressive, but, sadly, in the process of being renovated, which detracts some what from the spectacle.

By the time we leave the Cathedral, it is approaching 13:00, lunch time, so, we begin our search for a place to eat.

There are several attractive looking places in the streets around the Cathedral, but, Kathleen is not impressed.

We walk toward the main square in the "modern" (ie early 1900's) town centre.




In Rue Saint-Saulge, we chance upon a place called "New St George Salon de The". It looks quaint from the outside, but, this in no way prepares us for the inside!

Kathleen has resolved to be "adventurous" and have something "French", in we go.

The Restaurant is a narrow space. It looks as if it has been furnished by someone who likes to acquire "interesting things".

There are not many tables, perhaps seven or eight. When we arrive three tables are occupied. We notice, one couple are in the process of eating their meal, the other two couples have not yet ordered, or, are finished, we are unsure which, but, this becomes significant, read on.

The Patron, I cannot call him the waiter, since, it becomes apparent he is both Head Waiter, Chef and all things inbetween, shows us to a table, then scurries off.

We do notice, there are smiles all round from the already seated couples.

After about five minutes, we are presented with a veritable book of drinks, starters, teas, main courses, and sweets. The book, yes, it is a book, includes some hand drawn sketches, presumably by a child, a page or two of comic strip cartoons, and, a narrative on the "New St George Salon de The", in French, naturally. My French is not magnificent, but, I think the gist of the narrative is to say, the objective is to serve good food, in interesting surroundings, and, at a leisurely pace.

Now, for those reading this who know Kathleen, they will be aware, patience and leisurely pace, are not her key virtues!

The Patron is helpful and amusing, as he explains the menu, in English.

We order Gallettes, and, a "demi pitcher de vin rouge".

There is a further ten minute delay before our wine arrives, but, the time passes amicably, we watch the Patron as he presents the bill, with full explanation, to one of the seated couples. They pay, and leave, to be replaced by two Dutch (?) ladies.

Next, he asks another of the seated couples, who have finished their food and are drinking coffee, to write a few words about the establishment in his "visitors book". It transpires the couple are American, who appear to speak English with an Italian accent. They oblige with a written paragraph, I know not in which language!

The next event may not appear remarkable, but, patience, all will become clear. One of the Dutch (?) ladies enquires as to the location of the "toilette", the Patron shows her to a door, then, proceeds to give her a lengthy explanation of how to find the toilet, this will become clear when, later, Kathleen goes through the same routine.

Next, a very elderly French ladies enters, and is shown to a table. She is clearly a regular, from the conversation.

Another couple (French ?) enter and are shown to a table.

All of this activity is being handled by the Patron, in between arrivals, taking orders, serving drinks and nibbles, issuing and explaining bills, he disappears into the kitchen area, to cook a little, we assume, or prepare coffee or tea.
The elderly French Lady is served with coffee, then, a freshly cooked Almond covered tart, still in baking tray, is brought out. We assume it may be for the couple by the window, who were seated when we arrived, but, no, the Patron cuts a large slice and serves it to the elderly French lady.

Next, he appears with two gallettes, can they be ours?

As he passes our table, he tells us, "this how the gallettes will look, but, these are not yours", and presents the  gallettes to the couple by the window.

Next, he takes the order of the two Dutch (?) ladies, explaining to them, it may take some time, since there are two more gallettes to prepare (gesturing towards Kathleen and I), and he will have to make more Gallette mixture!

The French couple decide they will have Tea and Almond Tart, and, are duly served with a slice cut from the freshly prepared tart brought out for the elderly French lady.

Kathleen has now started eating smarties and chocolate buttons from a small selection on our table, to fight off hunger pangs.

We are served with a portion of nibbles (peanuts, chorizo etc), to keep us amused.

Our Gallettes arrive.

They are excellent!

The couple seated by the window pay their bill and leave.

The elderly French lady leaves.

The French couple finish their Almond tart and tea, pay their bill and leave.

It would appear, the rule of thumb is, only one couple can be eating their main course at once.

The two Dutch (?) ladies are served with their Gallettes.

We finish our wine.

Kathleen decides, she will "go to the ladies". At this point, she discovers why a lengthy explanation was necessary, after passing the "the door" (or should that be la porte). The door opens into any alleyway, she is instructed "walk past the two bicycles, up the wooden stairs, and you will find the toilet at the top of the stairs". Kathleen tells me, having climbed the stairs, which appear to date from the middle ages, she did find a perfectly functional, clean, modern toilet".

I pay the bill, Euro23.50. Like everyone else before me, I am given a full explanation of the breakdown of my bill, in English!

We have been in here for about two hours, it have been entertained, amused and very well fed, Kathleen has learned to chill (well, a little), an absolute bargain, in my humble opinion.

If you are passing this way, do try it! 

Although we have had a thoroughly enjoyable day, we have only seen one Roman remain, and that from a distance, so, our "culture day" did not work out too well, never mind, there is always tomorrow, after all, all of this Roman stuff has been here for 2000+ years, another day will not hurt.   

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