The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
May 13 - Monpazier and Environs

It was a cool and cloudy day today so we were in no hurry to start moving. But move we must, so at the crack of 1:00 we hit the road for the Bastide de Monpezier which we had heard was a pleasant place. (As long as we could find lunch at a late hour, I would be happy!)

Well we found the town and we found lunch (barely) in a local bar. I was reminded again how expensive food is in restaurants here. The bill for a bowl of soup, a salad, an order of pate, mineral water and a small pitcher of wine was around $35, certainly more than I would expect to spend in the US. There really are not many low-end options when it comes to lunch. You can get a take out ham and cheese baguette in a few places, but if you want hot food, a creperie seems to offer the most for the least, followed by a pizzeria. You can find the ubiquitous McDonald's in the larger towns (truly a tragedy) but there is really nothing in most areas of the country that would equate to our midscale restaurants.

I mentioned that Monpazier is a bastide -- a town built in the Middle Ages for defensive purposes. They are usually laid out in a grid pattern with the market place in the center. In addition, the churches are also frequently fortified. Life in the French countryside in the 13th and 14th centuries was far from safe. There are many similar towns in the area.

After five hours of touring, we opted for a picnic dinner at home -- ham, cheese and pate that we picked up at the local grocery on the way home. With a bottle of Bordeaux, we watched the last half of the wine course video ... and liked it enough to order it through Amazon on DVD. It was less than $30 and, I think, well worth the investment. It is called Jancis Robinson's Wine Course and was produced by the BBC in 1995.


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