So when we awake tomorrow it will be the start of our next days travel.
We are heading south to Carcassonne which is "a fairytale collection of drawbridges, towers and atmospheric cobbled streets was reputedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty, and it’s a “must-see” on any trip through this part of southern France." Thats what the city's website says! It is just off the main motorway from Bordeaux to Toulouse and, in truth, we have seen it from afar on a number of occasions and each time we said, "We must go there sometime." So this is it.
The journey is just over 190 miles although the vast majority of that is on a motorway so, hopefully, it will be a comfortable trip.
Last night we took the advice of Brenda at the campsite and tried out a new (to us) restaurant called, L'Escapade situated just outside Port-Sainte-Foy and I have to say it was top notch. We would go back there in a heart beat and as the picture shows, that goes for all of us.
So for reflections on our time in the Dordogne region lets hear what:
As we prepare for our departure from what is, arguably, our favourite campsite in France, I reflect on the nine days of time on the bank of the Dordogne. Firstly, many thanks to Bob, Brenda and Peter; who own and operate Camping La Bastide. It is due to their tireless efforts in assuring the facilities and grounds are maintained in top-notch condition that this destination remains as a 'must see' for us every year.
We were fortunate that a few days of the Spring-showers season allowed us a bit of sunshine, and we made the most of it, visiting the local market on Saturday, and even the medieval market in Issigeac on Sunday. As well as those treats, we were near enough to Bordeaux that Ji Hye was able to travel to Sainte Foy Le Grande to enjoy another weekend with us, and as a treat, we rented a chalet from Camping La Bastide for Ji Hye, so she even had her own little home for two nights!
We discovered that one of our favourite restaurants in Sainte Foy had closed, but the good news was the lady (Catherine) who owned it had opened another a few miles away. We went for a lovely dinner with Bob and Brenda and discovered that not only was the food just as good as we recalled from previous years, but the setting was magnificent, if you're ever in the Dordogne it is highly recommended; XIII Closhers, in Monteon; We enjoyed it so much in fact, we took Ji Hye there a few nights later and subsequently discovered a very talented Anglican choir (see Frank's blog entry 6th April.)
So tomorrow, bright and early (argh!) we'll head off towards Carcassonne, which is a destination I've long requested as we've sped by the medieval walled city in years past. Exciting times!
We've been busy! We picked Ji Hye up in Paris on March 22rd, and proceeded seventy miles to a quirky, quintessentially French campsite; no toilet seats, but it was on the banks of the Seine, so no one really cared. That evening we'd decided we would eat out, as there is no experience like just wandering though a village and finding a cuisine treasure. We found such a place, and initially, it looked like we'd be turned away as they were booked for a private party, but the nice woman who met us at the door seemed to change her mind, and let us in.
Fascinating, surreal experience; tapas only, so no menu, and we were asked if we'd like to salsa between courses. Huh? We declined on dancing, but took away yet another quirky, French dining story. Frank took a lovely photo of Dougal as he laid on his special dining blanket at our feet - he loves French restaurants nearly as much as we do
Our next stop with Ji Hye was a place we'd visited last year near Mont Saint-Michel, which is, arguably, the most luxurious of the campsites we visit in France, as it provides a private five-star toilet/shower facility for each pitch. Sadly the camp was just as muddy as it was last year - Spring showers bringing May flowers sort of thing - but we enjoyed our five days with Ji at the camp, and although Mont Saint-Michel was off limits to Frank and I due to their new, and I think discriminatory, rule about dogs, Ji visited it and took lovely photos.
The next camp was in the Vendee, which in itself was nothing memorable, but the village was lovely, and two relatively disturbing things happened; the heater in our motorhome inexplicably stopped working, and we woke up to snow on the ground! So...we bundled up and hurried onward, ever closer to Bordeaux, and another favourite spot of ours; Ile de Re.
Again the weather didn't give us a break, and sadly the views of this normally stunning place, were somewhat misty, and didn't represent the beauty of the island as fully as we remembered.
We did have an experience, and it started off as another lovely dining story, but this one ended badly; I fed Dougal 'moules' which is mussels - they were lovely, and a speciality of the island. Dougal ate about half of my portion - he really loved them, and all three of us commented on what a varied palate Dougal has developed. So...about 3:00am Dougal, who sleeps with us, woke me with a furious case of itching - he could not stop scratching. By morning it was seriously bad; his skin was bright pink, and was so itchy he couldn't walk two feet. Frank and Ji walked into the village looking for Benadryl, as I held Dougal trying to keep him from hurting himself by his constant scratching. Turns out Benadryl is not something you can find in France, and as the next day was Easter, we needed to find an emergency vet. Frank found one, who thankfully gave Dougal a steroid shot that cured him almost immediately. So...moral of the story is I don't feed Dougal anymore shell fish, or anything that he hasn't eaten before. Scary few hours, and I gotta say, Ji Hye was wonderful, as always, in helping with Dougal during his crisis.
The next day was Easter, and a sad time for Frank and I, as Ji Hye needed to be at her new Bordeaux French home by 2:00pm.
I'd like to say something about Ji Hye; our motorhome is not large, really only sleeps two people comfortably, a third bed can be made by folding down the dining table, and combining cushions, but it isn't exactly luxurious. Ji was, as always, sweet, helpful, kind and never complaining for a moment about anything. Truly, as we've always known, she is an exceptional person in all ways, and as pleasant company as you'd ever hope or want to have.
We're now happily ensconced at one of our favourite sites in Sainte-Foy la Grande, which is owned and operated by a wonderful British family; Bob, Brenda, Peter and his young son, Daniel. The camp is on the bank of the Dordogne (see the picture taken right outside our door) and is idyllic in all possible ways; we're staying at least a week - Frank needs the rest and this is as good as it gets for calm, peaceful moments. But, the really good news is we're within a comfortable distance from where Ji Hye is staying in Bordeaux, so we're hoping she'll come to see us at the weekend for two more days! Hopefully the weather will give her a better experience of our motorhome touring / camping lifestyle that we've come to love so much; more later!