Macon, France

Vineyard in front of Limestone outcropping

Macon is a city on the Saone River. It’s also a wine growing region known for white wine, especially chardonnay. Today I got to explore both.

In the morning I ditched the tour and walked around Macon on my own. Most things were closed, but that gave me an opportunity to wander down small back streets, look closely at architectural details, and soak up the ambiance. I walked across a bridge to the village of Saint Laurent. There wasn’t much there, but the views of Macon from across the river were stunning.

Back in Macon I tried to find the Ursuline Museum. I went round and round it; every entrance was blocked by construction or closed.  The silver lining was that I discovered some fantastic street art.  On the other hand, I kept seeing signs for an exhibition of “art naif,” or as I would call them outsider artists.  The museum was closed.

After lunch I joined a tour to a local winery. The hectares (acreage) of vines blew me away.  This is one small growing region of France and we passed mile after mile after mile of vineyards. The guide explained that the terroir in the region makes it especially good for growing.  Terroir refers to everything about the growing conditions—soil, water, climate, length of the growing season, type of terrain (hilly, rocky, flat) and more.

The vineyard we visited, Chateau de Pierreclos is housed in a former castle, dating back one thousand years. The setting was gorgeous, the wine equally so. We tasted four wines—three white from chardonnay grapes and one red from pinot noir grapes. Then we had two liquors—one from peaches and the other from black currents. The peach cassis was very high alcohol (18%) and delicious.  They rent rooms at reasonable prices, I may have to return and spend a few nights there.

We weren’t done yet.  Limestone is a key ingredient of the region’s terroir. It helps to drain the soil and provides a good base for the earth and vines. There are two large outcroppings of limestone that are considered national monuments. We visited Solutre Pouilly Vergisson. The formation was impressive, it reminded of areas in the American southwest. But the U.S. sites are encircled by vineyards. They were magnificent.

While we were at dinner the boat departed, making our way upriver towards our next destination, Tournus.  I was captivated by the reflections of sky, vegetation, and buildings on the water. The second I finished eating I went to a good vantage point to capture images.  The sky turned pink, and the reflections created the best Rorschach test ever.