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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Weekend in Digne les Bains...

In late November, we took a drive north, in search of a stay in a resort town known for it’s thermal baths….ahhhhhh, we thought, relaxation. We drove along the riverbed from Nice, through a lovely valley. This route is known as Napoleon’s route, because he enjoyed the thermal baths of Digne les Bains. We came upon a medieval town with a lovely hotel/restaurant for lunch. This town was named “ Entrevaux“, and it was surrounded by the river. It possessed all the qualities of a good knight in shining armor novel. There was a draw bridge to the old town area, with quaint cobblestone streets and doors too small for modern man to pass through without ducking his head. The day was sunny and the air cool, so we chose to eat our lunch indoors. After a beer for me and a wine for Art, we dined on a bowl of risotto, and a salad.
A while later we were on our way. North we drove, passing lovely farm towns and a beautiful lake, Lac de Castillion, just south of St. Andes des Alpes. The lake stretched out through the valleys. Very very beautiful.
We then drove through what were lavender fields as far as the eye can see, but the color was gone due to the season. You could only imagine what this would look like in late August, and we will return to see the splendor of these colorful fields.
We arrived at the Hotel du Grand Paris in Dignes, (pronounced DEAN) in the early afternoon, were able to choose our room, which was lovely, and set out on foot to explore this town. It was quite sleepy on this Saturday, very few locals out shopping, and just a few visitors. We walked the main street, lined with large trees, unknown to us, that had been trimmed down to the trunks for the winter. I presume for the snow that will be heavy on the branches in winter. There were many lovely stores, all with soldes signs in the windows, meaning SALE….and actually purchased only a cup of coffee. But a good one at that.
When arriving back at the hotel, we inquired about spa treatments, and were told that this was their off season and all were closed. So, we missed the towns most famous tourist attraction, as well as the locals, the thermal baths and massages at the local spa. Just for kicks we drove out to see where this all takes place, and it was beautiful there, so I’m sure we will return.
We had an excellent four course meal that evening in our hotel, just three tables full, and service was very good. The gourmet meal, bottle of wine, and ambiance was well worth the drive. We also find that the prices for such good meals are less than half the price of any meal in Monaco.
The next day, after a lovely breakfast in the hotel, we took to the road again, heading back to the sea and Monaco. The vistas are lovely, and often going one direction you see one view, and heading the opposite there are so many more to see. We just love our drives in the country…knowing there will be many more.

Lavendar Fields on way to Digne les Bains

Lac des Castillions, South of Saint Andes de Alpes

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