We Change Our Mind
25.09.2013 - 28.09.2013
It was as I wrote an email to my sister, by this time herself travelling in Ireland, that I saw the light.
While not everything was booked, our plan was to spend mainly 1 or 2 nights (with the occasional 3 nights) for the NEXT TWO WEEKS!
Suddenly I thought of endless driving, endless unpacking and packing, and not much appreciation of anything. Nowhere had that been on our agenda. The light dawned. We (well maybe it was me) were trying to squeeze too many places across too much distance into too little time. So we went and bought a map and sat down and worked out what was on our itinerary and what was causing us most difficulty to squeeze in. As a result (and somewhat reluctantly for both of us) Mont St Michel and Bayeux and Giverny proved to be the most outlying and difficult to fit in.
Having booked Toulouse and Bordeaux so we could go up to Mont St Michel (MSM) right up on the north coast, we had gone a bit out of our way but we decided that we would just divide the 10 days before we were due to head to Paris into 2x5-day stops and take the stress off ourselves. Instead of visiting Chartres cathedral from Paris as originally planned, we will instead visit Giverny on a day trip from Paris because we could easily reach Chartres from the Loire valley where we were staying.
It was amazing how relieved we felt despite agreeing to leave MSM until a later trip.
Toulouse turned out to be a delightful and elegant place and our B and B hosts were so helpful and our room so comfy we were glad we weren't missing out on it. I had some shopping planned for a particular store in Toulouse where despite our limited French and English I made some happy purchases.
In the exploring I also found a store with some lovely glass jewellery. Proving our BnB host entirely correct, the French staff in this arty store were truly obnoxious. Our BnB host Bernard, clearly a well travelled and insightful man, says that in France the class system is well and truly alive and his fellow Frenchmen need to get over themselves. Even though I wanted to spend a considerable number of euros in their store I was shit and that's the way I would be treated. Despite my anger at their behaviour I wasn't going to cut off my nose to spite my face ( or a Frenchman) and I proceeded with my little purchases.
But the rest of Toulouse was delightful and we were reluctant to leave such a pretty place. Strikingly the middle of town shopping area was so classic Haussmann and therefore very reminiscent of Paris architecture.
So the next day onto Bordeaux and another gorgeous little chambre d'hote (kind of like a BnB but in his case no breakfast but instead an arrangement at the cafe 5 doors down for a special breakfast for we guests). What's more again we were in the centre of the older part of town and a real village atmosphere in the streets around us. Plus we were on top of a very nice restaurant also owned by our host. After dining there the first night, I felt very French as I opened the windows the next day and chatted down to our previous night's waiter setting up down in the street!!!
The next day was time to tour both a bit of Bordeaux and St Emilion the famous village of so many Bordeaux wineries.
Things got a bit compromised in town when I tripped over a 4cm step and landed on my replaced knee. Embarrassment reigned supreme but 10 mins later when a large egg was rapidly going blue on my knee I was not so quick to brush it all off. Now a week later the bruising has spread from the front of my knee all the way down to the top of my foot! Think I did a good job of it. Still very sore and plan to get it checked when I get back home to reassure myself I haven't done any great damage to my precious titanium and plastic knee.
But after returning to our room and leaving P to capture Bordeaux in photos i started to feel a little better So we headed off to St Emilion. It's a gorgeous little town and worth it even if we didn't taste any wines. But we saw all those vines dragged down with clusters of grapes. Strangely unlike our vineyards, they only allow the vines to grow to about waist height and the fruit is only hanging in clusters from the bottom of the vine. Very voluptuous and exotic they looked. Ripe for the picking as they say. And seeing it's harvest time (vendange) that's not all that surprising!
Further to my comments about the French and their renowned rudeness and arrogance I notice that younger French no matter their level of English skills are delightful, polite, and always helpful as was our young host in Bordeaux, Pierre Jean. LOVED Bordeaux, a real art town. Many contemporary art installations around and fantastic quality street art.
Definitely recommend it.
So next we hit the Loire valley, home of chateaux and bygone wealth aplenty.