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  • Rita Selles

A day in the Chartreuse Mountains

Our day started early to catch an 8:30 bus to a mountain range--the Chartreuse mountains, about 25k from Grenoble. In a short time we were slowly winding our way up, leaving the city behind. Our first stop was for a coffee break at Col de Porte.


Coffee and a "pain au chocolat"-- a croissant-like pastry with chocolate inside.


Our second stop was at "Charmant Som" (or charming summit). It was a short, but beautiful hike to the top (45 minutes). The post with the yellow signs are trail details. The path was sometimes smooth and other times very rocky. Low clouds rolled in an out giving us sometimes breath-taking views of the surroundings. On a very clear day you can see Mont Blanc. Today was not one of those days.


Back at the bottom, I stepped into a "Fromagerie"-- a cheese-making place, where two cheeses are made: Tomme and Sérac sec. It is just too cool seeing the transformation from milk to cheese!



On to lunch in St. Pierre-de-Chartreuse where we started with a fabulous gazpacho and

a tomato-basil sorbet, followed by fish (lieu noir), ratatouille, and "la purée" (mashed potatoes), and the dessert--pane cotta with a peach coulis and chartreuse, the local liqueur (more on that below). And finally an espresso.



Our last stop: The Chartreuse Cellars and Distillery where carthusian monks, whose monastery we saw from the top of Charmant Som, have been making the chartreuse liqueur since 1605. Made from 130 different plants and aged in oak barrels for several years, it is a liqueur used in cocktails, served over ice cream, or my favorite, in hot chocolate.


We got a tour and then a tasting of both above, Chartreuse verte (green) and Chartreuse jaune (yellow), which is a little less strong. The color "chartreuse" (between yellow and green) is named after this liqueur.


Back on the bus and back to Grenoble. A good day, I'd say!

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