A restful night with a refreshing rain later, our ship #AMAWaterways arrived in Viviers after passing the narrowest section of the Rhone Gorge. From this short service stop, all the guests disembarked to catch coaches that whisked us across the river into the Drome department and the magical oak forests where truffles grow. Far exceeding our expectations, this morning was absolutely magical and educational at the same time.
Our local expert Serge and his wife Corinne. whom run the La Rabassiere truffle farm, gave us a detailed introduction to his fourth generation operation spanning 30 hectares/70 acres. While truffles cannot be farmed like other members of the mushroom family, the French developed cultivation methods that permit successfull harvest over fifteen to twenty years under oak trees. Instead of relying on white oak (common in Europe) only, they supplement with green oak (predominantly American and Australian) to maximize success.
As I love this delicacy, I could go on and on with it but instead, I’ll show pictures and a video of Ellie, digging for truffles. Why dogs? You wonder. Well, pigs are too difficult to transport and messy. This special breed of dog is called lagotto romagnolo known for their fine nose.
Truffles were absolutely great, but I was actually up early to watch another highlight. I watched our captain navigate the low bridges which required the wheelhouse to be completely lowered. Only his head popped out (see below) and we could literally touch the span of the bridge as we passed underneath. Another perk of being on a river ship.
As it I happens to be Sunday, a peaceful afternoon cruising allowed us all to enjoy the beauty of the vallee de la Rhone with its world-famous Cote du Rhone vineyards. More on that tomorrow from our wine tasting trip. Stay tuned.