March 27, 2007

Hiking and boozing

Filed under: Germany, hiking, travel, wine — podtourz @ 10:28 am

One of my fondest memories from the whole Camino de Santiago was the excellent vin de noix I sampled in Conques. And one of the highlights of the Pennine Way was the Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge – a mini beer festival rather than a pub!

Apparently I’m not the only one to like the idea of hiking all day and boozing most of the night. Two German districts now offer this mix.

In Saarland, for instance, you have the brandy hikes of Losheim am See. Saarland is great hiking country anyway but on the Hochwald Brandy Days (21 April to 6 May this year) you can hike and enjoy tastings as well.

In Hessen, there’s a hike along the Bergstrasse, walking through the vineyards by day and tasting the product at night.

France of course used to be the world’s great wine centre – though its trade has now lost share to winemakers in new areas. But the historic heritage of wine, whether that’s the great chateaux of Bordeaux and Medoc, or little family vineyards in the Midi,
is well worth visiting.

I spent a happy week and a half meandering around Burgundy on a hike from Auxerre down the Yonne and over the hills to Vezelay and then Avallon. This is lovely country, full of attractive villages and fine Romanesque churches – the hilltop abbey of Vezelay is one of France’s greatest.

And the food is magnificent. Cooked ham, rich creamy fromage blanc, coq au vin. It’s hearty food – nothing mediterranean about it; you’ll walk all the next day on a decent Burgundian dinner.

Oh, and snails. Are you brave enough? I wasn’t.

If you prefer two wheels to two feet, Duvine Adventures offers cycling holidays in the Bordeaux region. I took a bike out there on my own some years ago; it’s nice, not particularly demanding country, with many back roads where you’ll not see a car for hours. Imposing chateaux stud the landscape, many of them with the possibility of a ‘pause degustation’ (tasting stop).

Meanwhile I shall be ending this week with our local version: a pub crawl. I’m looking forward to Friday already!


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