Friday, September 6, 2013

Famous Last Words

Ok, I know, the blog posts are getting fewer and further between. It simply means we are having fun and can’t be arsed writing about it.

I last left you in Dijon and from there we headed back to the Rhone, to see the bits we missed on our way up. We camped near Tain L’Hermitage and our brilliant spot had views across to the famous Hermitage vineyards of Chapoutier and Jaboulet etc.

We could look directly across the river to ‘La Chapelle’, a wonderful wine (and chapel) that Lawrence had a great collection of until I came into his life. It’s a bloody good drop of Syrah. Sadly, we can’t afford to buy more, and we simply don’t have anywhere to store it.

View from campsite - Hermitage vineyards and La Chapelle on the hill.
We celebrated our second wedding anniversary here, and because we couldn’t find a restaurant with a decent wine list open on the day, we decided to cook our own. We bought a fab bottle of Hermitage, opened a good Champagne to start and finished with a Jurançon doux – oh and we had some food as well (confit de canard and delicious cheese).

We spent the Monday walking through these famous vineyards, examining vine training and techniques, always fascinated. One is not just allowed to walk through, but actively encouraged with pathways and good signage explaining varieties and even vinification techniques. Sheer heaven to wine wankers!!

Me at La Chapelle
Next stop was ‘The Ardeche’, a mountainous region on the eastern edge of the Massif Central. The plan was to do some walking, but I had some odd virus and wasn’t up to much. We managed one lovely (but easy) walk and of course a few lunches and brilliant scenery.

The Ardeche
We then headed back to the Gers to catch up with Alison and David (remember the house Au Petit Lombard?) and spent the weekend drinking rosé and soaking up the sun.

Sunny sunflowers in the Gers region

Millau Viaduct on the way

We then spent almost two weeks in the French Pyrenees staying with my sister Pip and her hubbie Mike who have rented a Gîte there for 3 months. Remember the ones who rode from the Black Sea to the Atlantic??? Yes, the mad ones.

They are now ensconced in a tiny village in a truly beautiful area south of Foix. The region is filled with soaring peaks, small villages and thousand year old churches. We spent the 2 weeks cycling up hills to pubs and cafes, and cruising downhill home. The walking in the area is wonderful and we did a memorable walk following a stream that became cascades and then a majestic waterfall. All this exercise of course, was rewarded by lots of good wine, the odd beer and a few good lunches.

Hiking in Pyrenees with Pip and Mike
We did a quick foray into Spain, (having said “we won’t be back” – famous last words) via Andorra. Andorra is everything we’d read about, overdeveloped, low rent ski resorts and cheap gin (which is why we were there!). The drive through the Spanish Pyrenees was simply stunning, breathtaking, so different from the greener, softer, French side. We spent the night in a low key Spanish town and raided Mercadona (favourite supermarket) for good cheap Spanish wine.

Pyrenees Waterfall
Sadly we had to say au revoir, and head to Toulouse. Can you believe we needed to get new tyres on Boris?? No, I can’t either. Anyway, the ones we had just weren’t up to the weight of the vehicle. One more bottle of wine and they might burst. So we spent 2 nights in Toulouse to get this sorted and managed some cycling along the canal in the Centre Ville and a bit of sight seeing. Most of this was spent in the Mephisto shop. For those of you with a shoe fetish combined with a need to wear to ‘old ladies shoes’, Mephisto is the business. I could have bought 20 pairs of these stylish shoes but since I already own 2 pairs of Mephistos I had to restrain myself and allow Lawrence to buy one pair.

We are now in Aix-en-Provence, a surprisingly lovely town, on our way to the Vercors for some mountain walking, or so we hope. After that, wait for it, we will head to ITALY!!!

Flower Market in Aix-en-Provence
After spending 2 years doing Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and the UK, we are FINALLY going to Italy!!! “Hallelujah!!” I hear you say. I couldn’t agree more.

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