Today marks the end of our 3 day journey to the Jura mountains where, just like everywhere else, was filled with breathtaking views. Over the course of this program I have been pleasantly surprised that each experience continues to top the last. We began our excursion by driving to the Gaugry fromagerie which is a cheese production facility specializing in epoisses cheese. (ep-wass) through glass windows, we were able to see firsthand the large scale production of this companies cheese supplemented by instructional videos and graphics. We even got to watch a short video explaining who the owner is and the process the factory follows everyday. We also got to do a vertical sampling of their epoisses cheeses from a young epoisses to an older epoisses! This cheese, in my opinion, is very strong in both scent and flavor and reminds me of being on a farm. Next we ventured to a grand cru vineyard, some of the most expensive real estate in the world, where some of the most expensive wine in the world is produced. Here we got to see how wine was made hundreds of years ago by monks.
On our next day, we ventured to Dijon France, the home of the famous Dijon mustard! Here we went to an indoor market, similar to the one in Cluny, and explored the city of Dijon. As this was a busy day, we next shuttled to an underground salt mine in the mountains of Jura where we saw how salt was extracted by pumping up water from deep underground! Hundreds of years ago before refrigeration, salt was known as white gold and was crucial for preserving food. We were even able to taste the salty water that was pumped up from the ground as our guide explained how the salt was evaporated from the water using large vats and heat from coal.
Next our travels brought us to the town of Arbois, the town where the famous Louis Pasteur lived! Here we actually got to go to Pasteur’s home and laboratory and see where he conducted his experiments. The house still contained his original flasks with his original writing and to me it was similar to walking into the home of a celebrity since, as a science major, I have been discussing Pasteur and his work since middle school. Together, we ended our second night with dinner at Tavern la Finette where we enjoyed various local specialties and fabulous cheese fondue.
Our last day was spent traveling to Frutière Fromagère, a local cooperation where farmers from the surrounding areas sell their cows milk to the facility to be made into cheese, specifically comté and morbier cheese. Again we saw the production of their product and were even granted the privilege of going to the storage facility to see where thousands of cheese wheels are aged before sale. The Comtè cheese, which is a harder cow’s milk cheese, were so fabulous that I even had several chucks wrapped and vacuum sealed for my trip home. Our last trip on this excursion was to the co-op Fruitère Viticole de Voiteur where local vineyards sell their grapes to this company to make their unique Jura wine that 80% of the first time drinkers don’t like…at First! (the common theme of these excursions was the emphasis on the use of cooperatives where local farmers and production facilities work together to make a product) With all of our souvenirs, finally returned back to Cluny and marked the end of our three day excursion. Needless to say, it was an amazing, well organized, thoughtful, and immensely memorable trip.