Grapes at Domaine Leduc-Frouin

ripening grapes in the Loire

ripening grapes in the Loire




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The Alps via Verdun

france rugbyVerdun (55 Meuse, Alsace-Lorraine – See map) is one of those place names which cannot escape their rather grim history – much like the Somme, or Ypres in Belgium. Furthermore it is not generally en route to the more popular southern French destinations.
So it was good to see an useful article in the Telegraph which provides some good advice on driving south to the Alps. Rightly the article suggests that the ski resorts do not offer the best experience of the real France, so you need a decent overnight stop en route – une étape gastronomique!
One recommended stop-over is Verdun and the Hotel Coq Hardi, which I stayed at many years ago towards the end of an otherwise disastrous holiday, when we returned home early after a futile search for decent camping weather further south.
My memories of the hotel are very favourable – our meal and stay there was the highlight of the holiday – the hotel was comfortable in a rather traditional way – memories of floral wallpaper on the ceiling – and the restaurant was somewhat formal. However the abiding memory, other than the best ever Crepes Suzette, was the way in which even a quite posh restaurant was very welcoming to children – so unlike many UK restaurants at the time (and probably even today).
The hotel’s website suggests it has become rather funkier – see www.coq-hardi.com.

Le Coq Hardi (or the bold rooster) is a common feature in France – most commonly seen onthe French National Rugby and Football Team shirts – it is also the symbol for Wallonia – the French speaking part of Belgium.

Verdun was a major battle in the First World War – and became synomymous with huge losses from a war of attrition – and of particular resonance to the French as they took the brunt of the carnage. Its occupies a strategic position on the banks of the RIver Meuse and was where Marechal Petain earned his reputation, Despite the overlay of the battle and its consequences, it is a pleasant town and is well-positioned just about 250 miles from Calais.

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