My Travel Blog

Birthday Festivities, Times Two!

It was that time of year.  Lisa was about to turn another year younger. We were so excited when our friends Alex and Elizabeth called.  It was also Elizabeth’s birthday, and they suggested a dual birthday celebration. Alex is an expat from the Bronx.  He moved to Dijon, France a number of years ago where he met his beautiful wife Elizabeth who he affectionately calls Babbette.  Among the many things Alex does to stay busy is offer cooking classes to Americans visiting Dijon.  That’s how we met.  If you love to cook, and are ever in Dijon his one day classes are something out of the ordinary and well worth your time.  Just the trip to the farmer’s market is worth the price of admission. It was just by accident that Lisa happened to find Alex’s brochure in the tourist office at the train station. You can find him at i-food-france.com.

Alex had planned a special day for us.  We first drove to the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans, which is roughly 35 kilometers from Besancon.  If you don’t have a car the train station is just a few meters from the saltworks.

Entrance to the Saline Royale.

Saline Royale.

Construction started in 1775, and UNESCO added the Saline Royale to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1982.  At its peak the saltworks produced 40,000 quintals per year. What, you don’t know what a quintal is? A quintal is the same as a centner. See, that wasn’t so hard. Okay, a quintal and centner are measures of weight, and in American English commonly called a hundredweight or 100 pounds. In Europe a quintal would be 100 kilograms or 220 pounds.

There is not much left of the actual salt producing machinery, but there is a museum dedicated to the architect that designed the Saline Royale.  Claude-Nicolas Ledoux was an amazing visionary. While his designs are 250 years old many of them would still be considered modern in this day and age.  Most were not built, but some were including the Saline Royale.

A waterworks project designed by Ledoux.

A theater designed 250 years ago.

How is this for a building designed in 1785?

Lisa and Elizabeth. The leaves are changing.

After our visit to the Saline Royale, Alex drove us to the city of Arbois where he had made lunch reservations at Jean-Paul Jenet. Alex and Chef Jean-Paulare friends so we were fortunate to meet the master while dining at his two star Michelin restaurant.While crisscrossing France Lisa and I have been fortunate to eat at some of its finest restaurants.  I have to say that Jean-Paul Jenet is right up there with the very best, and when you consider the quality of the food the price is more than reasonable. If you are ever close to Arbois don’t miss eating at Jean-Paul Jenet.

Amuse-bouche. A little starter to get your taste buds warmed up.

This was the meat course, but I can’t remember if it was veal or pork.

We had scallops for the fish course.

A little cheese course.

and Dessert!

Another amuse-bouche. This time it was a second dessert.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.