And the Last of France………..

Blog – last weeks in Saissac, France

So we returned from Barcelona to our wee village of Saissac.  Unfortunately the power cuts in the hotel in Barcelona had caused our computer to crash.  Oh dear, what to do in a foreign country! Luckily there is a woman in the village (Catherine) who is Irish, been here 20 years and so speaks both English (or should I say Irish…….) and French.  We called her and she told us where to take the computer to be fixed.  We felt very confident when the sign said “PC Clinique”.  But we had to leave it there for a week……….. we felt like we had our hand cut off, not being able to communicate.

Anyway we invited Catherine for lunch.  Well…………. She brought a jar of wild boar pate her husband had made (from killing the boar to making the far of pate) and some amazing tomatoes from her garden.  We talked, drank wine and had much frivolarity and she went home at 5.30pm! What an afternoon. Hic!  We walked Catherine home and I enjoyed patting those cute little pig dogs at her house.

On the way back (oh, yes, all of a 4 minute walk) we called in to the local pub.  Marie is the owner with her husband and she was on the bar.  We were the only customers and of course after all that “lunch” Peter especially was having a long and meaningful chat with Marie. Now let’s be clear- She speaks no English and Peter speaks no French………. But somehow the All Blacks came up so he raced home to get an all black TRY sign he had and she hung it up on the bar! What a lot of laughs across languages we had.

Marie at teh Saissac pub

While we were in Carcassonne, the closest big town / city to take our computer in, Peter sourced getting a blood test.  What a fantastic system. We walked into a laboratory (spied it from our car park) within 5 minutes the blood was taken and in two hours we had the result.  All for a mere 12.50 euros.  So efficient.  That day we also sourced a bar for Peter and Cherie, (friend from NZ who lives in Istanbul who was coming to visit for a long weekend in Saissac) to watch the NZ All Blacks play Australia the next weekend.   We found the Celt – IRISH bar – which screens all the games.  Oh yes – were Peter and Cherie happy!  And by coincidence we also found this public toilet (see how public it is!!!!!!!!!!) and the Otago Rugby clothing shop.  OF COURSE – an Otago and Maori rugby clothing shop here in South of France.  Crazy!

I am not telling you what Peter said about the relative size of the rugby player and my thighs!

Then it was my birthday.  Here in the South of France – very special.  And I received some mail in our tiny little letterbox here……. What a surprise.  It was very nice.  We walked to the local baker for pain au chocolate for our breakfast, fresh peaches, coffee and champagne. All on the terrace overlooking the Pyrenees.  Oh, so how hard is that! Alison, Peter’s sister, had sent the latest NZ Cuisine magazine so I spent most of the day reading that on the terrace.  Peter took me to lunch at a local vin yard – it was lovely but not the views and ambiance of NZ vin yards. 

Birthday lunch

The next day we got up early to do a day trip to Cirque de Narvacelles. To get there we went through the gorge Herault.  Stunning views and lovely ancient bridges, ………….

Jo on amzing bridge.....

Peter on bridge over Herault River

Devils Bridge - built by monks in 12 AD

The Cirque is a gorge dividing two limestone plateaus – apparently a rare ecological and geological area. WOW!!!! I have to say I was more awe inspired that Peter but we did both find it amazing.  And a tiny village settled down in that valley……

 It was a windy road to get there……….

GPS road view - ha ha

Look at that village down there

Cirque de Navacelles


After that we went to see and drive over the Millau Viaduct.  An amazing piece of engineering!!  Of course cute French villages on the way (it always looks like no one is home though, as they are so quiet).  The viaduct is amazing! I had seen on a documentary in NZ this viaduct but never thought I’d get to see it.  A real treat. 

Driving acros the viaduct

the Millau Viaduct from afar

Now here is something interesting.  We arrived here the last two weeks of summer and on the 1st Sept – suddenly it is autumn.  From 30 degrees at 9pm to 20 or so at 9pm.  Oh wonderful for sleeping! And suddenly the sunflowers are being harvested, the trees are starting to turn golden and we have had a couple of foggy cool days.  We don’t see that dramatic change at home – even in Central Otago. 

Every day (except Wednesdays when he is closed) we walk to the local bakery to buy our pastries and bread.  One day Peter wanted the spiral pastry with raisins and custard in it.  We asked in our pigeon French what it was called.   He said “escargot” – which is snail in French.  So that made sense………. Only next time we went a lady was serving and when I asked for “un pain au escargot” she burst out laughing.  Ah ha, the locals having a joke with the tourists! It is called “pain au raisin”.  It was very funny.

On Thursday Cherie from Istanbul was arriving at Toulouse airport to stay with us for a long weekend.  So on the way to pick her up we went to Albi – a beautiful town on the river.  The cathedral dominates the town and we loved to look through it.

Albi from one bridge


Albi Cathedrial from end-look at all those bricks!!

Side of building to give dimension!!

oh my! Gardens in Albi


Cherie’s plane was on time and it was so good to see her. So off we go to Saissac…… and cooked up a local NZ dish – lamb chops.  Everyone was in heaven!

The next day we drank champagne on the terrace, ate good food, local bakery goods and had a good old catch up. 

The next day was Saturday – the day of the All Black test – so we went into Carcassonne. Oh yes, we’d checked on the web and the bar that plays rugby was to be open at 8am……. The game was to be 12 noon local time here……….. we got there and the bar was not opening till 2pm! As the game ended! I had two very sad / annoyed people on my hands J  But to make the best of it we went for a lovely lunch, watching the local people, the fountain etc. Sigh!

That night we went to the restaurant next door here in the village – what a night – food enough for 10 people……… lots of laughs. We could not eat it all!

actually not related to the restaurant - but get these caulis in the supermarket!!


Duck casserole.......... mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Peter empty lagoustine shells........

Sunday was a home day for a good catch up.   Then lots of laughs and dancing to the ipod later……

Monday we got organized and then took Cherie in to town for the plane.  We all had a lovely lunch in Toulouse in the main square and then out to the supermarket to buy food for Cherie to take home.  Not like NZ – where you cant bring in any food – but in to Turkey Cherie took raw Toulouse sausage, cheese etc. Quite different for us.

Typical example of Toulousse architecture

So our last days here now – sad in a way and also time to move on.  We could live here though! The people great, the views, ……… Our next move is 7 days travelling up to Zurich.  It is not 7 days driving but tiki touring, stopping off to see etc.

Cherie and Jo with duck at next door

Off the Devil's bridge also - like home 🙂


Hope all is well and love to those of you who are in Canterbury with the earthquake. 

Take care

Love Jo and Peter xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: