Through the home exchange group, Homelink, I contacted Alain and Eric, who live in Romans-sur-Isère to see if they might be interested in an exchange with our house in Australia (Home Exchange - Benefits and Getting Started
). Although they have no plans to travel to Australia they very generously offered for me to stay with them for 7-10 days in their amazing home. Hospitality is one of the options that some members of Homelink choose to offer in addition to home exchanges. It is great privilege and huge pleasure to be able to stay originally with C near Besançon and now Alain and Eric. I get all the comforts of home along with lots of practice in speaking French, great food, inside local knowledge about what to see and do as well as good fun company.
|View from lounge towards the river|
In just a little more than 2 hours the TGV whisked me from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Valence TGV railway station (10 km from Valence). My hosts kindly offered to collect me from the station although there is both a rail and bus link between the station and the town of Romans-sur-Isère.
|Entrance to Eric and Alain's home and lounge room window above the doorway|
Romans-sur-Isère is a medium sized town situated on the banks of the Isère river. In the old town where Eric and Alain live; the narrow streets, which are predominantly pedestrian only, are paved with stones and are flanked by large Renaissance homes. These are built around a church whose origins date back to the 9th century.
Restaurant Nature Gourmande: 37 Place Jacquemart, 2610B0 Romans-sur-Isère
|My ultra-comfortable bed which sits within the former gateway into the building|
|The flamboyant gothic stairway|
Imagine my surprise when I found out that Eric and Alain live in the oldest home in Romans, Hôtel de Clérieu. The dungeon part was built in the 10th century to provide protection and also to provide a vantage point for surveillance. Additions and modifications have been added over the years. My bedroom window, which looks out on the internal courtyard, is opposite a flamboyant gothic staircase. Louis XII and Henri III have stayed here - and now humble me. This wonderful home shows Alain and Eric's interests and passions in life. It is full of books, magazines, music, original artworks and collections of items from their travels to countries such as England and Japan.
|Eclectic style with items from travels (Note the picture of the Queen)|
I took on Eric's suggestion and lunched at Nature Gourmande. It has provided me with the culinary highlight of my trip so far when dining out. Qualitive, fresh food with an innovative, creative twist well executed.
The husband and wife team, Pierre and Gwenaëlle, make a formidable team. He is the chef while she looks after front of house and is the pastry cook. The 20€ lunch menu provides great value although I chose to pay the 6€ supplement for the foie gras.
I decided to go all out so I started with an apéritif - kir cassis. This was accompanied with what to me seemed to be mini Croque Monsieur (does that make them Croques Messieurs?). I had dés de volaille basquaise, roquette et balsamique followed by noisettes de veau poêlées, pommes de terre et mange-tout. As if this was not enough I had an assiette gourmande.
I chose a glass of red from Bourgogne (Burgundy) which I thoroughly enjoyed. Each dish was beautifully presented to show off the ingredients and to invite you to partake. The flavours and textures didn't disappoint. I ate slowly to make the most of each bite.
The veal (veau) was so tender that it cut effortlessly and melted in my mouth. The snow peas (mange-tout) were crisp providing contrast to the potato (pommes de terre).
|Dés de volaille basquaise, roquette et balsamique
|Noisettes de veau poêlées, pommes de terre et mange-tout
The assiette gourmande was superb. Each morsel an absolute delight. My favourite though was the lemon curd on the small piece of cake/biscuit.
The combination of fresh, quality ingredients, extremely well cooked and presented along with excellent service make this restaurant a winning combination. If you are going to be visiting the Drome I strongly recommend you seek out Nature Gourmande. I am sure that you will be equally delighted.
|Bonbons accompanied the coffee|