It snowed here in the Saint-Aignan area overnight. It seems to be a wet snow, and the temperature is not below freezing. We are lucky that we didn't have bad weather like this two weeks ago, when we were exploring the Bourbonnais region.
We were in Lapalisse on a Tuesday afternoon. The sun was shining, though the breeze was not particularly warm.
The streets up around the château were empty of pedestrians. The château itself was closed for the season, with re-opening for guided tours scheduled, I believe, for April.
We had spent the morning in the car, and had eaten a picnic lunch at a little roadside park with tables for people like us. Tasha had been well-behaved all day.
So it was nice to be able to get out of the car and walk around the town, taking pictures of the sights we were seeing.
I found Lapalisse picturesque — slightly down at the heels, but not dingy or depressing. Judge for yourself.
This is one of those mornings when I can't think about a blog post because I can't stop working with, processing, and editing photos. That doesn't mean I think they are the best photos ever. It just means I can't stop messing with them. They are photos I took in the town of Lapalisse. I'm posting some of them here.
Today I'm going to cook a culinary specialty of the Bourbonnais region that I didn't know about until recently. I don't know if I've said that Walt and I didn't go out to a single restaurant during our trip last week. We did get pizza from a pizza truck in the village we were staying in.
Otherwise, we ate food that we had taken with us or that we bought in supermarkets. Partly, that was because we weren't sure that Tasha was mature enough to spend time in a restaurant without misbehaving. We couldn't leave her alone in the rental we were staying in. And we didn't want to leave the dog by herself in the car for a long stretch of time.
The Bourbonnais specialty is one that I learned about from watching Les Carnet de Julie, which is French TV personality Julie Andrieu's show about French regional cooking and foods. It dawned on me last week that Andrieu might have done a show about the Allier/Bourbonnais area, and indeed she had — I found it on YouTube. And it turned out that I had watched it before, but I'd forgotten about it. I enjoyed seeing it again, in light of our travels in that area.
The Bourbonnais dish is called Canard à la Duchambais. It's duck thighs and drumsticks cooked in a sauce made with pureed or chopped liver — duck, chicken, veal, or pork liver, as you like — mustard, vinegar, and red wine. You might compare it to Coq au Vin, but with a few twists. More about that over the coming days. I need to get busy in the kitchen.
Walt has been posting some photos he took in the town of Lapalisse, not far from the spa town of Vichy in the Bourbonnais. We spent an hour or two there 10 days ago taking a walk, taking photos, and taking in the sights.
When we drove in, we could see the massive château in the distance, looming over the town. We stopped and stood on the roadway — no traffic! — to capture the view.
The existing château was built mostly in the 1500s, around the same time that Chambord and Chenonceau were being built in the Loire Valley. The architects and builders came in from Florence, in Italy. The town is about the same size as Saint-Aignan.
We parked next to the big church near the château entrance and walked around that neighborhood with Natasha on her leash. Walt has a special belt that he can attach the dog's leash to so that he has two hands free to operate his camera.
The year-old puppy was very well behaved both in the car and on our walks. Part of the point of this trip was to teach Tasha about traveling by car, staying in unfamiliar accommodations, and walking around in new surroundings. We plan to do more of these kinds of trips over the next few years.