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Part 2 of the Tauck River Cruising Rhone Experience

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  1. 1. Saturday June 3, 2017 39The Herald Magazine STYLE AND SUBSTANCE This bijou village pub in Egerton, near Ashford, has been refurbished by husband- and-wife team Sarah and Dane Allchorne, and reopened in September 2016. The interior is modern but the timber frame ensures a traditional charm remains. There’s a bar – housing a decent collection of board games – a separate dining room and a more casual area best suited for enjoying morning coffee. SLEEPING MATTERS Upstairs are three bedrooms, named after different types of barrows (burial sites) – Bowl, Bell and Disk. Bowl offers guests a large bed and an en suite with a bath and rainfall shower. The room has superb views of the countryside and offers a quiet setting for anyone needing to unwind. Many touches demonstrate the owners’ attention to detail, such as locally-sourced toiletries. FOOD FOR THOUGHT The menu is modern British and makes the most of seasonal produce from the local area. Nothing is too complicated, and many of the options, such as bangers and mash or ham, egg and chips, are synonymous with home cooking. But here they are given the premium treatment, such as a bespoke sausage recipe developed with a nearby butcher. NICE TOUCH Above the fireplace are the signatures of US and Canadian airmen who drank at the pub during the Second World War. It is a listed feature and adds to the character of the venue. ABOUT THE AREA Egerton is around nine miles from Ashford and is one of many picturesque villages in the area. It’s an ideal base for exploring various National Trust properties, such as Bodiam Castle, and Chapel Down vineyard. Doubles from £80. Visit thebarrowhouse. or call 01233 756599 BY NEIL LANCEFIELD THE BARROW HOUSE KENT had a game of boules with the locals in the village club, which delights in the name Fanny Petanque. OK. I confess, the two Aussie couples, English couple and yes, my husband and I did revert to Primary 7 for a few titters which rose to outright laughter when the losing team had to kiss the bronze statue of Fanny, who is illustrated pulling up her skirt and showing her ample derriere to all and sundry. Moving on, Arles, filled with Roman ruins and sites immortalised by van Gogh, came next, with the afternoon spent at a private ranch in La Camargue for a banquet of farm-grown Provencal specialties, a musical serenade, a chance to see the region’s iconic white horses and a demonstration by fleet-footed “gardians” (cowboys) and the famous black bulls they raise here. If this sounds like touristy, cheesy tack, you’d be mistaken. In common with many of the excursions, this is exclusively for Tauck guests so there were no crowds, no queues and no compulsory souvenir stalls. When in Arles the next logical stop has got to be Avignon, and so it was for us. As we sailed in at night under the stars an accordionist popped up on deck, as if from nowhere, complete with stripy top and beret. And – bien sur – he sang the obvious song as we reached the eponymous bridge. The Pope’s Palace, the destination of choice for the Pontiffs in the 14th century, is yet another highlight, and while you’re still getting your head around that, you’re off to the Pont du Gard – a Roman aqueduct over the River Gardon that is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. This part of southern France is one treat after another, but if this all sounds utterly exhausting, the remarkable thing was that it actually wasn’t. They have giving you free time down to a fine art, allowing opportunities for lazy lunches and plenty of refreshment stops (by which I mean drink stops not, as our American travellers might say, “comfort breaks”). Next day, after cultural overload it was back to liver overload as we headed for Roussillon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Roussillon is famed for its ochre cliffs and purple lavender hills, all backed by pine forest. Chateauneuf-du-Pape, on the other hand, is famous for the obvious – spectacular wine, thanks to more than 200 days of sunshine per year. Yet another tasting ensued before requiring some serious siesta time as the boat glided along to Tournon-sur-Rhone and Tain-l’Hermitage. T HIS was the final day and it didn’t disappoint. The twin medieval towns are divided by the river and set in lush vineyards. We were in luck because the Onion Festival was taking place and Tournon was buzzing with one of the largest markets I’ve ever seen. With everything from tractors and roof tiles to live rabbits and every kind of fresh produce, it was a wonderful experience, and the perfect place to stock up on fromages and saucisson to take home. The last hurrah was a cookery class and cheese and wine pairing at Anne-Sophie Pic’s Cookery School. A native of Valence, Pic is one of only four female chefs in the world to attain three Michelin stars. It was everything you could hope for, and the gift shop proved a goldmine for nifty why-didn’t- I-invent-that kitchen equipment. The only thing that ruined it for me was my husband – who hasn’t cooked a decent meal in his life – winning the class prize for his effort at a tomato chutney. Oh well, least he won a lovely chef’s apron. Trouble is, I reckon I’ll be the one using it, comme toujours … Tauck River Cruises’ A Taste of France tours start at £3705. Visit or call 0800 810 8020 CHECKOUT The whole experience could be likened to a floating country house party with excellent food