It has been a whirlwind since Wednesday, in a good way.
For me, the trip really began as I pulled my cute little Fiat 500 out of the Toulouse Airport.
My splurge on a GPS payed off immediately. Leaving Toulouse, I felt like a pinball being released in to a fast paced driving game.
(Thankfully I didn't loose.)
I made my way through the rest of my southern journey on a GPS scenic tour. It took me through the back roads of a region called Minervois. Super narrow roads, and scenery galore. Breathtaking. With no actual agenda, I took my time & many pit-stops, one which landed me a chance encounter with the same Parisian woman that taught me how to find wild asparagus last year! She was full of many new travel tips, what a wild coincidence.
Arriving a wee bit early in Pepieux, my hosts (the Guest house owners) invited me in for a cafe creme & chat before I unpacked and started catching up with a few neighbors in the street. Before long, I had plans for the night: A Jazz concert in the basement of the old Abbey in Caunes-Minervois. Spectacular. The setting, the evening, what a beginning.
With a few hours of sleep, the next day began with Ping Pong. I met some British neighbors over a few games, and also a few locals (both adult & children). One of the locals, a vineyard owner, invited myself and my friend M. to what sounded like a potluck with singing. While the idea of it seemed daunting, we accepted and quickly created a salad for our evening adventure. Upon arrival at a vineyard called Chateau Coupe Rose we found that the evening began with a wine tasting of their 8 varieties. The evening then moved to an acoustic concert where the 9 percussion musicians harmonized in the ancient language of Occitaine, singing traditional folk songs. It was incredible and the vaulted ceilings of the winery/art gallery only added to the entrancing performance. When the concert was complete, we arrived at the potluck portion. Tables were brought into the room & we all (guests, winery owners & musicians) sat and shared a meal together. The stories and song that filled the rest of the evening rounded out a perfect evening.
But wait, not done yet... Easter Sunday I was taught the way to make a wild asparagus omlette. Served in the traditional French style, a layer-cake of courses ending with tea and chocolate for dessert. My friend's partner decided we needed to explore some countryside after our meal, so away we went. Exploring an olive plantation, a handful of seriously cool villages & ending with Tea at an outdoor cafe along the Canal Du Midi. WOW.
I am exhausted, but at the same time envigorated & thrilled to see what the rest of this amazing month is going to bring!
Here are a couple pics from my journey:
- A worn rest stop map. I am actually smack in the middle, not where the arrow points. (Between Carcassonne & Pepieux)
- A road less traveled? Perhaps. The width of this road is why I would never consider riding a bike in France.