The main goal for us today was to visit the village of Essoyes. Essoyes is famous as the summer home of Renoir. He did a lot of his later paintings there, as he spent a lot of senior age years there.
Last night we parked up on a winery in the area owned by the Lameroux’s. It was a nice parking spot for up to six campers including water, and a dump. We walked down to the winery when we arrived to check if it was ok to park. The wife of the owner met us and she did not speak any English, we managed to mime that we were in the camper aire, and she said good. We decided against a tasting and she looked relieved. This morning as we were pulling out her husband happened to be pulling into work. He stopped and thanked us for staying and invited us back if we were ever in the area, and you could tell it was heartfelt. Our experience in Les Riceys was really exceptional, and if an area ever motivated me to learn French it was here, as the people were fantastic.
The drive over to Essoyes was short, and we parked up next to a new museum for Renoir. In fact it was so new that the main exhibitions were not open yet. The museum included a video presentation about Renoir’s life in Essoyes. It was quite well done and helped us understand the rest of the tour. We followed the walking tour thru the village, and as we approached his home we realized we were going to run into lunch. We went in and did a quick tour, but decided to come back for a more extensive tour after lunch. We saw one of the curators and tried to ask in broken French if we could return after lunch, and he smiled and with a proper English accent said of course. Later we learned he was from the south of England.
The home Renoir lived in was exceptionally well restored and supported by one of Renoir’s great granddaughters so a lot of the furniture is family heirlooms. Essoyes is a beautiful village, and if you like impressionists and particularly Renoir it is worth seeking out.
It was still pretty early when we were done so we decided to keep heading east. We picked out the town of Contrexeville in the Vosges as it was generally in the right direction and had a couple of parking options. The GPS said it was 130km so we figured about 2 hours. The GPS had lately been picking pretty good roads where the speed between towns is about 80kph (50 mph), and most towns were bypassed. Today she decided to send us down little D roads where top speed is about 65kph (40mph), but there are lots of little villages where you are creeping thru at 30kph. Our two hour drive turned into 3 hours. We did not mind that much as the countryside was really beautiful, and the roads were nearly empty.
Contrexeville is a spa town with a small Casino. They are trying to develop some tourism, but the Vosges do not seem to be attracting a lot of tourism. The campground tonight is really nice and an incredible bargain at €11.