The river took us today to the mountain town of Tournon Sur Rhone, where we boarded a locomotive straight out of “Death Valley Days” and chugged off into the mountains surrounding the Doux River. This is rugged country – wine country — green, rocky, and utterly beautiful. The air was cool and sweet, except for those moments when we rocketed through a tunnel, forcing us to taste the coal soot produced by our steam engine.
Back at the station, we washed the soot out of our mouths with a cocktail that is one part white wine and one part Crème De Chataigne D’Ardeche, a chestnut liqueur and local delicacy. Casey Jones never had it so good.
On the ship after lunch, the Heimdal’s chef left the kitchen to demonstrate the recipe for Chocolate Fondant. This is a moist dessert with a molten center, which is why we know it as Lava Cake. It’s one of my faves, rich rich rich and chocolate-y as a dream.
We had the chance to walk it all off during a nighttime tour of Viviers. A broad cobbled avenue shaded by cypress trees led us into a small town, population three thousand. There the streets narrowed and twisted before taking us up a hill to a panoramic view of the valley and river below. I wondered what it might look like during the day, but The Husband was content with its charms by night.