At least according to me.
Here’s the sad thing…I don’t even know its name. I’m not sure I ever did. This is what I can tell you about it.
The restaurant is in Vezelay, in the Burgundy region of France. Vezelay is a hill town, founded in the 12th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is best known as the home of the Abbey of St. Mary Magdalene. We visited there two years ago on a trip we took exploring the region.
Italy is famous for its hill towns–France less so. A thousand years ago, villages built at the top of steep inclines were easier to defend. Fortunately for us 21st century history buffs, many are still around.
But it wasn’t the Abbey or the views or the charm of Vezelay that we and our friends remember. It’s the lunch we had at the prettiest restaurant in the world. (At least according to me.)
A short digression. We live in what is known as an “historic” town. There was a bloody battle fought here in 1864. We have many antebellum homes. The entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Those credentials notwithstanding, any European in his right mind would scoff at our pretensions to historic importance.
We had left the Abbey, wandered through some shops and were heading back down the hill to the car when we saw it. A simple patio behind an iron fence. Plastic tables and chairs of the Wal-Mart variety were scattered about. Behind the patio, an ancient stone building with open windows–shutters pushed aside. And twined above it all, a massive wisteria vine. In fact, it was a wisteria tree, in full bloom. The trunk was several feet in diameter. We were there when the blooms were at their peak. We had to stop and have lunch. There was no question about that.
I don’t remember what I ate–most likely une salade au chevre. What I do remember is the wine. We ordered the local white wine for the table and it came in a little earthenware pitcher–most likely from grapes grown on the adjacent hillside. One pitcher became two…the setting was just too pretty to leave.
Here it is:
In honor of that memory, husband bought some wisteria last week in hopes that it will climb up the posts to our second story deck. Check back with me in about 500 years–I’ll let you know how it’s doing.