Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bonjour Part Two

The next week of our holiday was pretty quiet in comparison to the adventures of Barcelona and Paris, so feel free to skip this post altogether as it will mostly be about spending time in the sun, reading, drinking and eating and... oh did I mention drinking?

Our housemate, Dan, has an Aunt, Pam, and Uncle, Phil, who live in the South of France and they were nice enough to have us stay with them. They live in a tiny little village called Mont-Clar which is not far from Carcassonne. For those of you who have read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, most of it is set around Carcassonne. The closest airport that Easy Jet would take us to was Toulouse, which is one and a half hours from Carcassonne. Phil was kind enough to come to Toulouse and pick up Dan and us (Dan flew from Gatwick the same day we flew from Paris) and take us all back to their place where we promptly fell in love with, the views, the house and all of the bread. There is a lady from a Boulangerie (see previous post) a couple of villages away, who drives around the local villages and brings bread directly to the door!!! Fresh bread daily!!! Delivered!! Fresh!!! Bread!!
Pam and Phil have a cute little doggie, Hattie, who was a rescue dog that they have had for a long time now. She is absolutely adorable and more like a cat in the sense that if you call her she will only come to you if SHE wants to, or if you have food.

Our week spent with Pam and Phil kinda melded into one long sunny day. Plans were half-heartedly made then dismissed once we had gotten up and eaten our breakfast outside in the sun. Most days we decided that we couldn't really be bothered to go anywhere and spent the day lazing in the hammock or the deck chairs and arguing over card games.

And now for some photos to set the scene:

In the bottom photo, in the corner you can just see me sitting in our regular spot reading. And in both photos you can see Hattie also lazing in the sun with us.

From these two places you can see this:

Having said that we spent most days laxing out; we did see some of the sights. La Citie is only about 20 minutes away by car. It is a stone city that is surrounded by a castle wall and is full of cobbled streets and narrow alleyways and those five thousand tourists seemed to have followed us there as well. It has a population of about 100 and is full of shops and cafes. At first I said that I wanted to live there, then about 5 minutes later when I had just been trod upon by the 5 millionth tourist I amended that I want to live here, after I kill all the tourists.

It even has a 300 Euro a night hotel
And a church

Another place we did visit was Rennes Le Chateau. According to the legends there was a priest in the early 1900's who was doing renovations to the tiny church that sits on top of the hill in this village. Abruptly he stopped work and went on a trip to Paris. He returned a very wealthy man and stopped all work on the church. The theory is that while renovating he found some secret hidey-hole, which contained something very important that he then was paid to keep secret. Although there are some theories that he just re-hid what he found and then planted clues in the church, such as; there is a statue of the Devil in the church, where he is looking could be an indication as to where the hiding place is, there is a statue that has its left hand raised instead of its right, maybe it is pointing at something? What he found is also theorised on, from the Holy Grail itself, to Jesus's marriage certificate to Mary Magdalene. Also a more recent piece of trivia on the village is that this is where Dan Brown came up with the idea to write the Da Vinci Code, apparently.
Anyway a few metres down from the church is a shop which stocks every type of publication that every existed on the conspiracy theory of this church and a few others.
The church itself is very small and kinda gave me the wiggins. There is a statue of a devil at the entrance which, as mentioned, is included in many of the conspiracy theories that surround the church.

Another place we visited was Parpignon, which is a largish city about an hour and a half away from where we were staying. For six weeks over summer, for the last 16 years, they have a festival there and every week, live entertainment sets up in spots around the city and you can walk around from place to place and enjoy it. The most impressive act we saw was Monty Picon. They all turned up wheeling this cart and then proceeded to set up and start playing in about 10 minutes of arriving. As anybody who has been to see a live music show will tell you it takes ages for musicians to set up and be ready to play. The fact that these guys managed to do it in such a short amount of time was amazing.
On our last full day we took our hosts out to lunch to say thank you. And we went to Limoux, to a nice restaurant. We sat outside and had a traditional 3 hour lunch. (the French don't like to rush when it comes to eating) and then Amber and I went for a stroll around the market that was close by. We had planned to buy some local wines as gifts for people back in the UK and many of the stall holders were selling wine. As we had already had quite a bit to drink over lunch we were pretty merry and then the wine sellers kept pouring out wines for us to try. By the time we got to the last man we were very merry and then he told us that we had to try all his wines before we could get to the dessert wine which we were actually interested. A Muscat, which is a white, very sweet wine that goes well with all desserts! He pulled out actual stemmed glasses from somewhere and we proceeded to try his reds before we got to the Muscat. Amber went to take the glass from him holding the top rather than the stem (as we do) and he was all 'No mademoiselle, please hold it by the stem, like this' then he gave her a demo as to how she should be holding her wine glass. It was very funny. Anyway we brought several bottles of wine and then had to figure out how we were going to get them home. (thankfully Dan had some room in his bags although, due to the new airplane regulations, we had to carry the bottles and he had to take some of our clothes - and all of our shoes, tehehe)

The last day we were there we went to Mirapoix which is a smallish town about an hours drive from where we were staying. They were having a huge market stall there and those five thousand tourists had once again followed us! The town itself is kinda like a oldy worldy place, very pretty and we want to go there when we have managed to lose our following. We went around the market and then went to a bakery for one last baguette. We went in and with our usual pointing and pigeon French managed to procure a baguette and some yummy cakes. I hadn't even made it out the door before I started eating the bread right out of the bag, this got me some some funny comments from Amber and Dan. We got home in time for a late meal and to pack our bags. I took some photos of Pam and Phil's house just before we left.

This is Pam studying her french. She has all of her french notes covering one of the walls in her kitchen in the hope that she'll learn by osmosis while doing dishes, it's awesome.

This is Pam and Phil's lounge, Amber is the one trying to curl up in the hammock style seat, she loved that thing!

This was our bedroom, it was on the third floor and is one of five bedrooms!

Right and now for some more random photos:
In front of La Citie

Lunch at Limoux

Dan and Shelley enjoying themselves while laxing in the sun with wine (normal day at Pam and Phil's)Amber dealing cards while laxing in sun with wineShelley at top of hill that Rennes Le Chateau is built on. The tower in the back ground is the conservatory that the priest had added to his house when he came back all rich.

Well. That's all folks. We packed, checked into the airport and then dragged our packs from Gatwick to Horsham where a friend was nice enough to pick us up from the station. It was about Midnight when we crawled in the front door and Houdini (Dan's dog who thinks that all of three of us are HIS humans and worries if we are not all home on time) was so excited that he couldn't decide which one of us he was more happy to see. Although we think that he must've thought he was dreaming though as he was WAY more excited in the morning!!! He's finally settling back into the routine of having us home and isn't stressing out quite so much when we go out somewhere. (We think he was worried we might leave him for three weeks again). Our tans are slowly starting to fade; Shelley is back at work and Amber only has a week and a bit before she goes back. Our holiday away already feels like a dream. . . .
Oh well, time to start planning the next one - Venice in October!!!!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the up date.looks like you had a fantastic trip.mlxxx

Anonymous said...

Dads Neil Diamond rubbed off with all that red red wine.