ON TO PAU


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Europe » France » Aquitaine » Pau
May 5th 2012
Published: May 7th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Bridge at Gorge TarnBridge at Gorge TarnBridge at Gorge Tarn

Near Millau in route to Roquefort
Breakfast at the Château

The day started with breakfast at the Chateau. It was your traditional half baguette, croissant and coffee affair, plus a cold buffet, with cheese, ham, yogurt etc. The only reason I am really talking about this is because of the very cool three minute egg cooker. They had this machine full of water, you turned the temperature up and when it boiled you placed the egg in a small ramekin then in the special holder and dropped it in the water. Three minutes later you have the perfect 3 minute soft boil egg. I want one of these for home.

Roquefort

After breakfast it was off to Roquefort and a tour of the caves. It is about a 15 minute drive from Millau to Roquefort, you pass under the famous bridge and through the pastoral setting that is France. We needed gas, so we stopped at a station, it was closed (as far as a person working there) but it was self serve with a credit card. We pulled up, inserted the card and nothing. Tried several times and it did not like my debit card. So we moved onto Roquefort.

The village of Roquefort is on the side of a cliff. The cliff was created over a million hears ago when the mountain collapsed and formed the valley and the caves that are perfect for aging cheese and growing he special mold that makes Roquefort what it is. We all know that no cheese can be called Roquefort unless it comes from here; all other types are simply blue cheese. The cheese is made with only sheep’s milk that is unfiltered, unpasteurized etc. In other words, nothing is done to it straight from the sheep to the vats to make the curd. After the curd is cut the bacteria (mold) is added to the cheese. The mold then begins to grow. The next step is to form rounds salt the cheese on the edges and stand them in the cage for the maturation process. The mold develops further, but the taste has not yet been developed. They cheese stays in the caves this way for 14 to 25 days. After than each round is specially wrapped by hand in NASA like tin foil, set in the caves and aged, this is when the flavor is really developed. After that it is cut,
One of the Cave'sOne of the Cave'sOne of the Cave's

Outside only, no pictures allowed inside
wrapped and shipped. The ewe’s only produce the milk from January to July after that it is breeding season.

We took a 30 minute tour of the caves, unfortunately it was entirely in French, so we didn’t understand anything they said except the word cheese. They did provide us with a written translation.

The Drive to Pau

After the caves it was off to Pau. There was not much to see as we were on the Auto Routes. We did have a couple more experiences of not being able to buy gas, finally was told that American Debit cards don’t work. A manager of a super market that sold gas used his credit card to buy us gas and we then reimbursed him. Absent that we would still be somewhere between the hills of Roquefort.

The only other thing of note was the extreme weather. We went from sun, to thunder and lighting to such intense hail everyone pulled off to the side of the road to let it pass. Jerry says this happens is Texas a lot, but I have never seen anything like this hail

Pau

We arrived in Pau, a mid-sized
HailHailHail

On the road to Pau
university town at the foot hills of the Pyrenees, the boarder between France and Spain. We got to the city center fine, but that is where it ends. I forgot to right the address of the hotel down, so we had no idea where we were. We found parking and walked to the tourism office, it was closed (of course it was closed it was after 6 on Saturday). We found another hotel and they kindly gave us a map and directions. We then had no problem driving directly to the hotel. We again scored Doris Day parking directly in front of the hotel. It was after meter hours Saturday and the next day was free as it was Sunday and a Holiday.

We checked in, large room, twin beds, another bathtub instead of shower. The room is nothing to write about other than what I just did. Two star hotel that should have been a 1 but centrally located. The hotel allegedly had Wi-Fi, but 1) you couldn’t get it in your room so you had to be in the breakfast room 2) even in the breakfast room you could not connect unless you had Windows XP, which I don’t I have Vista on this computer. So we could not book our room for Bordeaux. However, they did let us use there PC so we could go on line and book the room, it did make me nervous to use my credit card on a different computer, but I changed passwords the next day.

By the time, we figures out our room for Bordeaux it was 9:30, and you know that means restaurants are about all to close. We asked the front desk clerk for some recommendations. She directed us to two very touristy places one which was a German Tavern, we opted to walk further. The only place referenced in the Fodor’s book was Henri IV; it was too late by the time we got there. I mean the place was packed and yes there were tables to be had, they just simply stop serving at 9:45 no exceptions. Earlier in the day we walked by a nice looking place called the Majestic so we decided to see if they were still open. The place was busy, and technically they were closed, but the woman at the front desk went to the kitchen to check something came back and sat us. We sat in the far corner of the restaurant so we could see the entire place and outside. The food and service was very good. After a long and at time stressful day, it was a very good ending.

TODAY’S EATS

Breakfast

Chateau Creissels: Standard French breakfast, with extras such as a three minute egg.

Dinner

The Majestic: We both started with a Payannes salad (totally different that Chateauneuf-du-pape) instead of lardoons of bacon, potatoes and poached egg, it had croutons with foie gras, jamon and duck confit. Jerry then had Dorade aux petite St. Jacques (Filet of Dorado with bay scallops in a Basque paprika cream sauce); I had a perfectly cooked veal chop with roasted vegetables. For Dessert Jerry had a Filo wrapped poached pear with caramel ice cream. I had what can only be called a soufflé with strawberries and ice cream in the middle.

The Wine: Chateau Montus 2006 a local wine from the region of Sud Quest (South West)

DAILY TIPS

Never drive somewhere with at least the address of the hotel. If possible a good city map ahead of time is very helpful, you can typically download one off the internet.

Check out what it means for a hotel to have Wi-Fi, is it secure? Can it be accessed in the room or only public area? Can any operating system access it? It doesn’t mean much to have free Wi-Fi that you cannot connect to.

Unless the hotel is owned an operated by family (as in Aix) do not rely on the front desk of a 2 star hotel to direct you to a decent restaurant, they will point you to the closest and not necessarily the best place.

REVIEWS

Roquefort: If you like blue cheese then yes you must go here, it is out of the way, but well worth the trip. There are no hotels in Roquefort, but Millau is just 8 miles away. If you don’t like blue cheese (well your crazy) then don’t make the trip.

Pau: Not really much to see here that we could figure out, very big shopping district if your into that. It is the gateway to the Basque country and in a loving setting so it is a good starting point for visiting that area.

Hotel Central: Big no, do not stay here, over priced for what you get. Many other choices that are same price and nicer.

The Majestic: Big yes, reasonably priced and excellent food.


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Pau, France


9th May 2012

3 minutes
Quite possibly the best thing about being American is the bountiful water pressure in our wonderful American showers. I have fond memories of pastries in Pau. PLEASE bring me the egg cooker. Please, please, please!
From Blog: ON TO PAU

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