Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day one, Deux Sevres to Tarn et Garonne

A week ago today we set off for what should have been an eight day blast around the south of France in our Mini Cooper. We were excited, optimistic and looking forward to visiting lots of lovely places (see here), however if you are a follower on Facebook you will know that things didn't go to plan. Here is part one of what turned out to be quite an adventure.

We set off in the sunshine which is worth a mention as despite the lovely weather we've had recently, blue skies and sunshine aren't normal weather for when Ade's parents are visiting. I hope it continues for us and them!

French Village Diaries France road trip 2014 Deux Sevres to Tarn et Garonne
Ready to go

Our morning route took us through the Cognac vineyards to Aubterre sur Drone, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, but sadly not one thoughtful enough to provide picnic tables for travellers, however being quick on our feet we snapped up the only bench to munch our baguettes. It is a very pretty village clinging to the hillside like many of its Provençal cousins, has a Romanesque church and a monolithic underground cave church (which we didn't get to visit this time) and has been on my wish list to visit for a while. Patisseries are always an important part of our road trips, but the choices in Aubterre were not great and we agreed we should have bought them from our boulangerie before leaving home (desolée Bernadette). 

Some of the funniest things we saw this morning was a lamb chasing a German Shepherd dog around a garden and some old supermarket trolley shelters being used for cow shelters in the fields. (Little did we know then that we would soon find our own original use for a trolley shelter.)

French Village Diaries France road trip 2014  Aubterre sur Drone Poitou-Charentes
Aubterre sur Drone

Having driven through clouds in the Dordogne the sun came out again as we left the Bergerac ring road and found ourselves in rolling vineyards with hilltop chateaux and plum orchards. A sight that made it really feel like we were on holiday. We then drove into the Lot et Garonne and Bastide country, there are over 350 fortified hilltop towns in the south west of France, and Montflaquin provided a great place for our afternoon patisserie with a view. We were joined by lots of swallowtail butterflies enjoying the sweet chestnut blossom and sunshine. All was well with our world!

French Village Diaries France road trip 2014 Lot et Garonne
Afternoon tea with a view

We drove a total of 350km today and took no wrong turns, although we did manage to bypass Riberac so only glimpsed what looked to be a lovely church from the distance. Our rest for the night was not far from the banks of the Garonne river at Douce France, a B&B with friendly hosts, a welcome beer in the sun and a covered pool. Thankfully we swam plenty of lengths before walking just over a kilometre to dinner as the pizzas were HUGE. The restaurant also had a very friendly cat who was well behaved until she jumped onto the table.

We were a mixed group at Douce France; a Belgian/Irish couple, a Franco/Italian couple and us all conversing in French (as best we could). Thanks to Fred and David for making us so welcome.

French Village Diaries France road trip 2014 Deux Sevres to Tarn et Garonne
The Pizza Cat