SERVICE 649 – FRENCH CIRCULAR TOUR – PART TWO

Wednesday
Today was our driver’s designated day off. After a breakfast of ham, cheese and croissant with of course several cups of coffee, We boarded a French coach – destined for Rocamadour, with Albert the driver and Stefan our guide. His knowledge of the area seemed to be fathomless. He spoke of the geology, geography and history of the region. We passed through Beynac – the village used as the backdrop of the film, "Chocolat"  further along the dogdogne valley we passed Les Eyzies home, apparently of Cro mangnum Man some 30,000 years ago. These people lived in the caves high above the valley floor. Rocamadour  is one of the two most visited sites in France, the other being Mont St Michael in Brittany. Today it is a site for christian pilgrimage but has been a place of worship since the Bronze Age. When we arrived back at the "Royal Vezere" Hotel, went across the road and had a coffee whilst writing a couple of postcards. We stayed at this hotel in Les Bugue for only two nights and I was impressed. I don’t usually but I can recommend this Best Western hotel. It is only 15 – 25 miles from so many interesting places. Making an ideal centre in what I think is my favourite part of France.
Thursday
Left Les Bugue at 8 am following a 07.15 breakfast – I cannot remember the last time I was up so early! It was a long trek on the A10 down as far as Toulouse, left at the foothills of the Pyennees and onward to our lunch stop at Carcassonne. I had lunch in a picturesque square then sat and contemplated life by the carousel [Closed for lunch 12 – 3 !].
I wonder if at this late point I should introduce some of my fellow travellers. I seem to be labeled "odd" merely because I enjoyed struggling with the language and eating "foreign" food. They seemed to eat nothing but pomme frites and expensive sandwiches. The sight of a dreaded M*******s brought stars to their eyes. There was the couple who walked around with a calculator – instantly converting he dreaded Euro to £’s. They baulked at buying an apple tart – you know the ones they make in Normandy. It cost all of £2.50! Then their was the lady who never smiled or spoke but held onto the hand of her companion with the same tenacity a Mother holds her childs hand in Sainsbury’s or Tesco! The elderly man who, I guess, fained deafness to escape the constant chatter of his wife. I was amused when we shared a table in Cognac them consuming a coffee au lait whilst I munched through the dejunuer of the day. She then stood guarding her payment until the busy waiter collected it, unlike most cafe user’s who leave the cash on the table!
She, incidently was the one who complained that the Popes Palace in Avignon was empty – not worth paying 9.50 euros to see "nothing" . . . . .  
Onward then to Orange and the Park Inn – here the entrance is guarded by a security gate – all very impressive until I looked out of my bedroom window at an open field !! Had vegetable terraine, pork with prunes and cream caramel for dinner.
Friday
A day out visiting Avignon – with half a bridge and Arles . . .with an empty Roman Bath. [ !! ]
Even I remember the song from my shcooldays:
 
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les beaux messieurs font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà
We returned back to our hotel via Le Baux and the Roman town of Glanum – just a glimpse not a visit and then we passed through St Remy de Provence, hometown of Nostradamus then homewards with just a fleeting look at the ampitheatre in Orange – in my mind the best outside Italy. 
I had fish in pastry as a starter then fish filet meniere. Ok two fish dishes but the alternative was soup and turkey!  I treated myself to half a bottle of white wine. Well the holiday was coming to an end!
Shared a table with the Billaricky Mafia! lol – ok a family of four, Dad, Mum, Sister in law and Daughter, and a couple named Ferrari all from that Essex town but until this trip had never set eyes on each other!  Very pleasant company – shared a glass after the meal with them.  It was Mother who in Avignon would nt sit in the main square for a drink because "Its too posh."
 
Saturday
The return journey and endless travel – Orange to Paris. Stopped at Beaune l’arche service autogrill. Had chicken, ratatuille and baked pommes. . . . .spotted the wine so had a glass. Less than £10 for a motorway meal – cann t be bad! I had nodded off so I am not sure when the storm started. It seemed to follow us down the motorway to Paris. This was the same hotel as the previous weekend – situated between the 2 Charles de Gaulle airport runways. . . . .The planes were taking off into the storm that was raging for most of the night above Parissiene districts. Dinner was Goat’s cheese in puff pastry, veal escalope and ice cream.
Sunday
Breakfast 06.30. . . . yes 06.30 !!!!!!
We left a damp city suburb of Senlis and set off for Le Manch at 07.15. Our boat was due to leave at 11.30 and we arrived in Calais at around 10. I think I mentioned in part one that the French customs in Dover, waved the coach through onto the ferry? Not the British customs. Once in the dock area we had to leave the coach, march through a room, present our passports, [ Having had to remove the British Passport cover], then get back on the coach. In the meantime two custom officers seached the coach.
Now can anyone with an iota of common sense imagine a group of white, middle aged tourists, attempting to smuggle aliens into England ?  Talk about locking the stable door . . . .
Our journey in France covered 1828 miles,[ 2943 kilometres].
We boarded what must be the oldest PO ferry on the channel run. I was not impressed ! The journey home was marred by a diversion via the M40 and Coventry but I staggered into the house at 17.30. Brewed a cup of tea and fell asleep! My supper was a Chinese takeaway then a quick phone call and to bed.
Thanks to our driver Kevin – great mate!
 
Hope someone out there gets the urge to visit France from this small tale. . . you won’t regret it.
 
  
 
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4 thoughts on “SERVICE 649 – FRENCH CIRCULAR TOUR – PART TWO

  1. Brilliantly narrated!  Great Western Hotels are really good and it saved our bacon in Brittany when we left the place we had booked because it really was unsuitable !!  We will be staying in one in Southport on New Years Eve:)  As regards food I cannot understand people not trying regional dishes!  How can they know whether they like them or not if they dont try??  Personally I would have had all of it and left soggy English sandwiches behind.  Glad you had a good time – am considering the possibility of going but it cost me a lot of money last time having to be flown back – lol  <hugs> xx

  2. It appears a pleasent trip was had old chap. However, personally I would have jumped coach at Cognac, and probably ended up on the Cote d\’ Azur.    Ahhhhh, but that was in the good ole days.
     
     

  3. OH my goodness… I\’m so glad you are including all the food you get to eat along the way.  That is one of my big wonders if I was to ever get to travel to foreign areas.. how is the food.   hehehe.. so I appreciate this detail.  The trip sounds very good … you dont\’ know how jealous I am. heheheh… I\’m so glad you are getting to do this. 
    OH.. ummmm yeah…  I think you would be sad to not live on Wisteria Lane… if anything.. it sure would be entertaining to watch all that goes on… and you wouldnt\’ have to pay for it.. hahah… take care Laird…

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