Durham, United Kingdom
July 31, 2004
We had planned to spend 17 days in France following the eastern border from Strasbourg to Nice, through the Alps. After three days of torrential rain in the Vosges area we sat watching the Meteo as we ate our evening meal and it predicted nothing but heavy rain across the whole east side the next three days at least. We were ready to turn round and come home, but we changed our itinerary instead. We would get up early and go south for some sun. I consulted my Les Routiers Guide to France and found a guest house in Viviers sur Rhone, just south of Montelimar - we'd head there - it was as far as I dared drive in a single day, over 400 miles down the autoroute A7 commonly known as the "route du soleil"
Anyway, we drove for 400 miles, the rain stopped, the sun came out and things were looking up for a while. We got to the guesthouse and it was shut due to fire. Never mind, it was only 6pm, we'd find somewhere, we'd drive around for a while and stumble upon something. We did this for a long time. Each time we took a turn it seemed to take us in a direction less likely to have a hotel at the end of it. Eventually we arrived at this "restaurant avec chambres" in this little village Valvigneres - not really a hotel but it would have to do. I now know that if we'd followed the D107 out of Viviers for a couple of miles, then turned left onto the D210 for another couple of miles we'd have got there a lot more quickly.
This was about the lowest point that we had been on any holiday - four days in and it had been pure misery and on top of that we were shattered.
The restaurant only had about three rooms and each had only shared bathroom facilities. The rooms themselves had a basin and bidet. However our room was clean, the people were friendly and the room was only 120 Francs. It would do for the night. Things, however, were about to take a dramatic turn for the better.
We showered and changed and went downstairs for something to eat. We were the only ones there, but the proprietors had opened the patio doors and moved a table so we could look out onto the vineyards to the rear, they had placed candles on our table and we were about to be treated like royalty for a couple of hours.
These people had miraculously found a way to wipe away four days of misery and frustration in an instant. In the morning we opened the shutters of our room, the sunlight streamed in, and we looked out onto the beautiful vineyards to the rear. The village was quiet, ancient and beautiful. We decided to stay.
From journal Ancient History, Natural Beauty, Weather And Wine