Voila! Off we went on the adventure of a lifetime beginning with our comfortable ride on the TGV from Paris to Bordeaux. As novices in dashing about France, we had taken a precautionary step and booked a couple of nights in a gite near Bordeaux.
This was one of those times, when our different map scales threw us off. Montlieu la Garde – home to our reserved gite – looked quite close to Bordeaux – see there on the map how close? Not so. As we headed north from Bordeaux, we found our gite to be some 40 miles – certainly not “around the corner” within easy reach of dining or shopping. C’est la vie. Being so-called displaced or misplaced in France just offers more charming surprises!
We had such a pleasant couple of nights with our host and his two guests. We enjoyed this first experience in a privately-owned bed and breakfast, where Pascal Menanteau … and his cows … provided a warm and welcome experience. Fellow house guests Estelle and Jean Claude gathered with us and our host in the shaded front yard for an apéritif, before scurrying off for dinner in a little commune called Podensac.
Pascal told us the Chez la Mère Catherine had limited hours, and there were few dining options out in the country. This offered another occasion for my limited French to get us by, as English certainly wasn’t the language of the local restaurant. But that’s part of the adventure – to take your restricted vocabulary and stretch it, to ‘walk around’ a phrase, when you aren’t certain exactly how to express something. We rarely encountered anything other than appreciation for our efforts to communicate in their native language.
In the morning we lingered over coffee, fresh breads and homemade confitures, feeling as if we were in the company of friends. Pascal gave us a tour of his delightful ‘farmhouse’ kitchen, where vegetables steamed in a large copper pot. Before heading out on another impromptu discovery tour; we visited with the cows, who were enjoying their own hearty breakfast. As much as we love city life in France, the memorable experiences of the countryside remain firmly tucked into our rich bank of recollections.
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