An IBIS Hotel
I’ve marketed my Exploring Europe tours with the slogan “Thrifty and Tasteful Travel” for sometime. But just last night it came to me what I really mean by it. Tonight I am Avignon, a wonderful city with lots of history, culture, and style. The only problem is that all the tour groups that go through southern France stop here, add their euros to the economy, and then move on to somewhere else. I stopped by today to see if I could test my “Thrifty and Tasteful” concept.
Last night, in the remote village of Bonnieux, I was having a glass of wine at the bar down the street from my hotel. As I was writing my “Blog” and updating my journal the “Thrifty and Tasteful” concept materialized before me. So here it is….
In Bonnieux I spent 50 euro on a rather spartan, yet clean, room with a shower, sink, toilet, bed, and great view. There were better rooms in the village and even at the hotel, but I was alone and trying to impress no one. I figured the money saved on the room could be better spent on dinner. I was out 50 euro for my room and now I went in search of a place for dinner. I always checkout practically every place in town before deciding where to eat, and it was no different in Bonnieux. Bonnieux did present a special problem in that the town was small and built on a mountain, so anywhere I wanted to walk was either uphill or downhill. It never amazes me that where I want to go is always uphill!
After scouting the town, dodging the thunderstorm (complete with pea-sized pellets of hail) I ended up right back at my hotel’s restaurant. The owner, Pierre, had welcomed me to France (in English) when I checked in and now I asked him to tell me about dinner. Pierre took me into the dining room and showed me the “panoranique” view, described the menu choice in English, and even showed me the kitchen! Well I was hooked and made a reservation for 8:00. (BTW, I make it a habit not to tell the hotel and restaurant owners who I am or what I do until after the service, and only then if I want to return).
So for dinner I spent 36 euro on a four course meal that was simply amazing. The waitress suggested a bottle of local “Cote du Luberon” red wine which I took her up on. I had Foie Gras with fresh grilled bread, salad, and confiture of prunes for the starter (if you don’t like duck’s liver you should try it at one of my recommended places in France). I picked a regional speciality for the main course consisting of baby lamb shank roasted in its own fat and seasoned with juice, rosemary sprigs, and thyme. The meat fell off the bone and the rosemary was presented in a way that I could cut off fresh sprigs and add to each bite to enhance the flavor to my liking. By now I was completely satisfied and pleasantly full, but the goat’s cheese plate came and I had to have some of it. The cheese was produced in Buoux, a village about ten miles away. There was desert, but I’d had enough and skipped it. The waitress said she’d add the check to my hotel bill and I could settle up in the morning.
Ahh…talk about “Tasteful Travels” I found it in Bonnieux. So I guess I’ve discovered that I’m willing to stay in a two star hotel and dine like a king as opposed to staying in a four star hotel and trying to skimp on the food. If I had all the money in the world it would be different, but it seems just right for my “Thrifty and Tasteful Tour” philosophy.
Meanwhile tonight I’m staying in a two star IBIS hotel. These hotels are all over France and it’s kind of nice to “come home” to the same room no matter what city you’re in. But I did not succeed in finding an excellent and affordable place to eat, but that’s a story for another night.