We woke up the following morning with the sun beaming away but as the free stopover etiquette is to stay only 1 night (to allow everyone a chance), we had a leisurely breakfast and set off for a brief sourjourn into the mountains at a stopover in La Roches-en-Ardenne. Trevor had chosen this stop well as it is on the map for it’s range of home cured and smoked meats (stop right there, you had me at home cured!!!) & for the history attached to it and it’s role in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII – well, we just couldn’t miss this one!
La Roche is a picturesque town set on the River Ourthe. It is situated in the Walloon district of Belgium (French-speaking), located in the province of Luxembourg and the arrondissement of Marche-en-Famenne, France. In essence that means, it has a fairly mixed identity of all 3 countries but is French speaking and very French is character. The architecture is very chocolate-box alpine with buildings of stone perched on the mountainside. In World War II, the town suffered severe damage. Having been liberated by the Allies in September 1944, the town was recaptured by the Germans in December, during the Battle of the Bulge. The subsequent Allied bombing raids resulted in the town being liberated once more in January 1945, but left much of the town destroyed, and 116 residents dead. There is a monument to the only Allied soldier, a Frenchman called Michel Prioux, killed during the liberation of La Roche-en-Ardenne. There is also an American Sherman M4A1 tank and a British Achilles SP 17pdr displayed as monuments to the town’s liberation.
Having covered the history bit, on to food, or more precisely cured and smoked meats. There are loads of butchers and charcuteries in the main street in La Roche-en-Ardenne with their locally smoked pork and dried sausages hanging in their large (and expensive!) window displays, but the one I found called to me with it’s tantalising smell of cold smoking wafting up from the basement grill and the inside of the tiny shop crammed with locals buying her products. We left with home-smoked ham, fuet (a French dried sausage a bit like a thin salami but much nicer!) and some smoked belly bacon done the old fashioned way with the rind on. No horrible white stuff leeching out of this when it was fried and it was predictably absolutely gorgeous! Lunch was a platter of smoked meat and sausage with local bread, cheese, fruit, tomatoes and pickles. I’ll leave you to assess it’s virtues!
Briefly still on food, remember the rotisserie chicken bought in Brugge? Afternoon G&Ts were accompanied by chicken scratchings (the skin removed and fried very slowly till crisp) and that night the balance turned into a comforting chicken soup.
As the afternoon passed, the sun broke out and we spent the afternoon basking in it and taking a walk along the river bank.
The sun was still shining the next day as trotted off to town again. The gorgeous Mr T went off for a wander around the WWII museum whilst I sat in the sun catching up on Facebook, people watching and drinking the devine latte macchiatos sold in town. With not much else to do but laze around back at Kaya whilst we caught up on washing and that did it’s thing in the machine, we turned in for an early night ready to move on the next day.