Husband Chris’ family know how to organize some excellent getaways. This year it was abound with visits as we had my dad visiting from Romania for a couple of weeks in March and later, in July, we had Husband’s Mum and Dad visiting for a couple of weeks. Before their arrival they stopped in the UK and together with my sister-in-law and her husband, they planned a trip to the South of France. We were invited to join and after some minimal consideration, we started looking at plane tickets.
The trip was spent mostly in Dordogne.
Before the fun times, we kicked it all off with yet another travel adventure. As I was rushing to catch a bus, whose schedule I did not check ahead of time, I lost one of my favorite sweaters. Realizing I didn’t have it, I was pondering if I should go back to look for it or not. I didn’t and while running to the bus station, the airport bus was waiting there with 1 minute to departure. I, of course, did not have a ticket and to get one in a minute was not achievable. I could buy a ticket on the bus if I had cash, something that rarely happens nowadays. Luckily a young man paid for me (and they say the new generation is not polite). The saga continued when we arrived in France during a rail strike, floods around Paris and the Euro Cup. Something we found out by trying to book accommodation for Paris on the way back to Toronto and found out that our regular hotel was fully booked and AirBnBs kept refusing us. The plan was to arrive in Paris, take a train to Bordeaux, and from there take a regional train to Bergerac, where we would pick up our rental car. The flight was smooth, train to Bordeaux was ok but the strike hit us at the end and the regional train got cancelled although very helpful staff directed us to a bus. A comedy of stress occurred while boarding this as it did not accommodate to all the people due to be on the train and the queuing etiquette so well cherished in the UK, was nowhere to be found here while everyone was trying hard to not miss this last opportunity to get home. We made it in, probably not very elegantly, and it could have been a very enjoyable ride with all the scenic little towns and villages if we wouldn’t have been so exhausted. We arrived in Bergerac to collect the car with no rental office to be seen in a seemingly deserted station. Husband walked around looking for a car rental while I waited fresh as a daisy in front of the station. Out of nowhere a man comes out and it turns out there was an office open just close to the tracks, second door to the right after you pass through another door and go on the tracks and you pass the toilets, and kiss a frog, any way you get the drift.
In Paris when I say my well-practiced ‘Bonjour’, there is an immediate switch to English by my interlocutor, seeing right through my feeble attempts at speaking French. In Bergerac not the same, my few words were kindly interpreted as a true attempt at speaking French and it was the cherry on top of the cake to push the cloud off my brain and try to make some sense of what we needed to do to pick up this magical vehicle. Somehow, hands waving in the air, passports were checked, keys were handed and we ended up picking up a car always smaller than what we booked. For the next hour Husband Chris pushed through and drove with me guiding him from written directions through the beautiful countryside and finally making it to a family reunion over a delicious dinner.
Next day we enjoyed it by simply relaxing and walking around, eating delicious bread, cheese, croissants, roasted chicken and asparagus. La Tourache, our home for the week had a gorgeous garden so I spent my day walking around barefoot and taking it all in.
Traveling with my sister and brother-in-law is a treat as they are experienced travelers who research interesting things to do, know where to go for delicious food and also enjoy a nice slow pace. A lot of the places we saw and good food we had were the results of their work.
Les Eyzies is a lovely place to walk around with the magnificent buildings in rock. Les Jardins de Marqueyssac reminded me of French movies featuring royal gardens so well manicured and maintained. It had gorgeous views and it was an impressive place to walk around. We had lovely drives around the countryside with Mum and Dad and one of the highlights was seeing poppies around. We used to have them close to where I grew up and I have not seen much of them since, so it was glorious to photograph them while thinking of my Mom. She is a huge poppy lover so I will definitely have to bring her there one day.
There is no surprise that the food was amazing and one of the highlights was the markets, full of delicious goodies. The two we went to were in Bugue and Sarlat. We had two amazing lunches one at the Au Vieux Moulin in Les Eyzies and the second at a farmhouse, Auberge du Belvédère where I managed to have three glasses of wine in front of me at once.
The local nearest town Bugue, had a glass blower that did a little demonstration for us, also helped us stock up on some glasses and a bottle to bring home. Some things don’t change we still end up carrying awkward and breakable things as always.
Afterwards, we squeezed a couple of days in Paris before our return. We have been going to the same hotel for the past 5 years and this time we had to go out of our comfort zone and stay not too far from Rue des Ecoles. I may want to do that in the future and try different areas. We were also right in front of the Natural History Museum with a view of Galerie de paléontologie et d’anatomie comparée from our window. We visited the Natural History museum, which is a bit harder to take in without a proper English guide. It is more of a local museum with the displays mostly in French. The grounds of the museum are impressive with a gorgeous rose garden to walk through, a zoo and just an overall lovely place to spend a few hours. I will say it was very strange to see kangaroos in the middle of Paris.
On Saturday we went through about 5 security checks to the Eiffel Tower and together with true football fans cheered for a goal, any goal. There was definitely a lot of chanting through the city with a lot of inebriated fans supporting their countries through thick and thin.
Rue Jacob had a few shops to keep us amused, one of them Gien, the home of some gorgeous plates. We also went to Merci Merci which was madness due a sales event and the crowd of people flocking to this (a bit too hip) place.
We overdid it by booking two good restaurants. The food although delicious in both, lacked a service and a welcoming feeling, which I started to crave in my eating experiences. The first restaurant had an absolutely amazing dessert and dessert wine pairing. Things got a bit friendlier after they mixed up Husband’s order but before that, they were more than happy to snub us. The second restaurant was fish-focused, with delicious food again yet the same lack of friendly and welcoming service. Gérard Mulot provided good brunches to keep us going through the day.