November 1, 2018 Issoire FR

After a short nights sleep and feeling a little worst for wear we woke up to beautiful blue skies.  It was time to make some tracks and begin heading towards the barn.  Today we decided to drive about half way to Sens, and for the first time we used a toll road on the trip to expedite the 550 km’s we wanted to drive.

There is not much to talk about today as it was a long drive, and it turns out a holiday in France so there was extra traffic.  Ton took a couple of windshield pictures of fall colors as we drove thru the central mastiff a mountainous region in central France.

This highway bridge the Viaduct de Millau jumps over a valley and is about 500 feet high and over two miles long.  It is also quite expensive costing €12, but it probably saves you 45 minutes of winding down into the valley and then climbing back out.  Instead you jump across the valley in 2 minutes.

April 17, 2018 Carcassonne FR

We finally had to make a decision about what direction to go next.  As we have been heading south we have been having an ongoing discussion about whether to head east or head west when we hit the Mediterranean, I think we have finally decided to head east towards Provence.

Today we visited Carcassonne Castle in the city of Carcassonne.  The drive there was pretty quick and uneventful.  The castle is a world heritage site that has been around since medieval times.  It had fallen into disrepair and was rebuilt in the 1800’s.  The rebuild is not historically accurate, but if you picture a Castle, Carcassonne is pretty much going to be what you are thinking of.

An exterior shot of the castle.  

Even though it was early in the year it was pretty busy, the busiest place we have visited so far.  We had a nice walk around the grounds, but decided to pass on the 9 euro admission fee to see the interior.  The views are very impressive, and the size is quite large with the walls around the castle measuring almost 2 miles.  

We are not sure whose idea the yellow paint was or if it is in anyway authentic.

We called it a day a little early and headed back for a nice Thai-French fusion meal Ton whipped up, using some ingredients she had brought from home, but substituting egg noodles for rice, and adding in some French vegetables.  We finished up the night by sitting outside watching the sun set on the castle, and drinking some wine and eating some of our Cantal cheese.  By the way we cannot differentiate between the cheese with the flowers in the grass, and the cheese without, they are both delicious.

An interior shot of a bridge from the outer to the inner walls.  The roofs on the towers were added in the 1800’s.

April 16, 2018 Rivieres FR

Today turned into a maintenance day.  We are at a campground in Rivieres and we did not move here.  After we were done visiting Albi yesterday we moved to this campground for the night, but to tell the truth when I wrote the blog last night we had no idea what town we were in.  When we woke up this morning we decided it would be a good day to take care of cleaning up and doing laundry.  By the time we were finished with the laundry we decided to stay another night. 

While we were doing the laundry Ton was reading about the local area and noted that this is one of the oldest wine producing areas in France.  The area is called Gaillac and the  original vineyards were planted during the Roman times, and for the Romans it was the major wine production area in Gaul (France more or less).

So when I extended us for another night I asked the owner of the campground to recommend a winery in the area.  She recommended Domaine Escausses.  So after a quick stop at Lidl (grocery store), and a stop to replace one of our propane bottles we headed up into the countryside to Domaine Escausses.  

The mustard is taller and a little further along than what we saw in Burgundy.

The setting for the winery is right out of a movie.  The views are spectacular, and the tasting room is small and quite nice.  We were met by the 7th generation winemaker who in addition to pouring wine for us was taking care of her children.  We had a great discussion about the unique varieties around Gaillac.  Her white wines were superb.  Her daughter is about 9 or 10 years old and is already in training to be the 8th generation winemaker.  She was kind enough to give us some ideas about places to visit going forward.  So even though it was a maintenance day we had time to enjoy another touch of France.

The winery and home of the family.

April 15, 2018 Albi FR

The day started out with a visit to the cheese shop under the supervision of Patrick the campsite owner.  He also had a French couple in tow who turned out to be from the Yonne department of Burgundy which is our honorary  French home, as that is where François the RV is based.  We ended up with about 1/3 of a kilo each of three Cantal cheeses, one is called Cantal, one was called Salers, and the last was a blue cheese from the area which one food critic labeled the best he had ever tasted.  The Salers cheese is a variant of Cantal that is only produced in two months when a certain flower is in bloom in the region, as the flowers mixed with the grass makes the cows milk that much better, you have got to love the French!  We will give you a report later if the flowers make a big difference.

Patrick leading us down the road to the cheese store.

After two days of cold and damp weather we decided to head south in search of sun and heat.  We had originally picked out a target of a town that was about 130km  as the crow flies.  But when Ron punched it into the GPS, the route said it was over 400km’s.  Ron cursed and figured he had punched in the coordinates wrong.  But after some further study of the map it turned out that this was really a case of the proverbial you can’t get there from here.  

This cow is a Cantal whicn is a breed unique to the area around Salers.
Ton likes Cows and this calf is the cutest she has ever seen, it almost looks like a sheep.

Now it was Ton’s turns to study maps, she proposed the town of Albi as a destination.  It was south, the roads looked reasonable, and best of all it was the hometown of Toulouse-Lautrec which is both of our favorite French Artist.  

The bridge in the foreground was built around 1300 and is still used for traffic today.

The plan for the night was to stay in the Aire in Albi.  The GPS led us close to the medieval old town down increasingly narrow roads, and only about 500 yards from the final destination we came to an arch that the road was going under, but the road under the arch was filled with construction equipment.  After some studying of the map, and a little maneuvering in tight quarters we headed to our alternative route to the aire.  About half way there we fell in behind a Dutch RV that appeared to be going to the same place.  Again within about 500 meters of the aire we ran into some more construction and the Dutch pulled over and parked.  Ron parked up behind them and knowing that almost all Dutch speak English he walked up and asked them about the aire.  It turns out that the road to the aire is under construction and while you can barely make it there, it was full anyway.  The husband said that they were thinking about parking for the night at a site we had passed on the way in, but the wife switched from English to Dutch and told him no way they were parking there.  I don’t speak a word of Dutch but I didn’t need to to understand that conversation.

Ton and I decided to just leave François where he was and head into Albi to have a look around.  Albi turned out to be a real Gem.  This is why you do these trips without agendas,  to find places like this.  Our first stop was  the Toulouse-Lautrec museum.  The museum has an incredible collection of his art, because apparently the Louvre turned down the collection when his parents offered it to them.  The museum is housed in the Palais de la Berbie which is the old palace of the archbishop of Albi.  The building is as impressive as the art collection.

An example of the art in the Toulouse-Lautrec museum.
The exterior of the Toulouse-Lautrec museum which is in the old palace of the archbishop.

Next door is the Cathedral of Albi, which is the largest brick church in the world.  We went into the Cathedral and it was as impressive as the outside.  We got a break as one half which usually costs 5 euro to get in was open in preperation for a concert so we got a free look at it.

A view of the ceiling of the cathedral in Albi.

November 1, 2018 Issoire FR

After a short nights sleep and feeling a little worst for wear we woke up to beautiful blue skies.  It was time to make some tracks and begin heading towards the barn.  Today we decided to drive about half way to Sens, and for the first time we used a toll road on the trip to expedite the 550 km’s we wanted to drive.

There is not much to talk about today as it was a long drive, and it turns out a holiday in France so there was extra traffic.  Ton took a couple of windshield pictures of fall colors as we drove thru the central mastiff a mountainous region in central France.

This highway bridge the Viaduct de Millau jumps over a valley and is about 500 feet high and over two miles long.  It is also quite expensive costing €12, but it probably saves you 45 minutes of winding down into the valley and then climbing back out.  Instead you jump across the valley in 2 minutes.

April 16, 2018 Rivieres FR

Today turned into a maintenance day.  We are at a campground in Rivieres and we did not move here.  After we were done visiting Albi yesterday we moved to this campground for the night, but to tell the truth when I wrote the blog last night we had no idea what town we were in.  When we woke up this morning we decided it would be a good day to take care of cleaning up and doing laundry.  By the time we were finished with the laundry we decided to stay another night. 

While we were doing the laundry Ton was reading about the local area and noted that this is one of the oldest wine producing areas in France.  The area is called Gaillac and the  original vineyards were planted during the Roman times, and for the Romans it was the major wine production area in Gaul (France more or less).

So when I extended us for another night I asked the owner of the campground to recommend a winery in the area.  She recommended Domaine Escausses.  So after a quick stop at Lidl (grocery store), and a stop to replace one of our propane bottles we headed up into the countryside to Domaine Escausses.  

The mustard is taller and a little further along than what we saw in Burgundy.

The setting for the winery is right out of a movie.  The views are spectacular, and the tasting room is small and quite nice.  We were met by the 7th generation winemaker who in addition to pouring wine for us was taking care of her children.  We had a great discussion about the unique varieties around Gaillac.  Her white wines were superb.  Her daughter is about 9 or 10 years old and is already in training to be the 8th generation winemaker.  She was kind enough to give us some ideas about places to visit going forward.  So even though it was a maintenance day we had time to enjoy another touch of France.

The winery and home of the family.


April 15, 2018 Albi FR

The day started out with a visit to the cheese shop under the supervision of Patrick the campsite owner.  He also had a French couple in tow who turned out to be from the Yonne department of Burgundy which is our honorary  French home, as that is where François the RV is based.  We ended up with about 1/3 of a kilo each of three Cantal cheeses, one is called Cantal, one was called Salers, and the last was a blue cheese from the area which one food critic labeled the best he had ever tasted.  The Saler cheese is a variant of Cantal that is only produced in two months when a certain flower is in bloom in the region, as the flowers mixed with the grass makes the cows milk that much better, you have got to love the French!  We will give you a report later if the flowers make a big difference.

Patrick leading us down the road to the cheese store.

After two days of cold and damp weather we decided to head south in search of sun and heat.  We had originally picked out a target of a town that was about 130km  as the crow flies.  But when Ron punched it into the GPS, the route said it was over 400km’s.  Ron cursed and figured he had punched in the coordinates wrong.  But after some further study of the map it turned out that this was really a case of the proverbial you can’t get there from here.  

This cow is a Cantal which is a breed unique to the area around Salers.
Ton likes Cows and this calf is the cutest she has ever seen, it almost looks like a sheep.

After some further study of maps, Ton proposed the town of Albi as a destination.  It was south, the roads looked reasonable, and best of all it was the hometown of Toulose-Lautrec which is both of our favorite French Artist.  

The bridge in the foreground was built around 1300 and is still used for traffic today.

The plan for the night was to stay in the Aire in Albi.  The GPS led us close to the medieval old town down increasingly narrow roads, and only about 500 yards from the final destination we came to an arch that the road was going under, but the road under the arch was filled with construction equipment.  After some studying of the map, and a little maneuvering in tight quarters we headed to our alternative route to the aire.  About half way there we fell in behind a Dutch RV that appeared to be going to the same place.  Again within about 500 meters of the aire we ran into some more construction and the Dutch pulled over and parked.  Ron parked up behind them and knowing that almost all Dutch speak English he walked up and asked them about the aire.  It turns out that the road to the aire is under construction and while you can barely make it there, it was full anyway.  The husband said that they were thinking about parking for the night at a site we had passed on the way in, but the wife switched from English to Dutch and told him no way they were parking there.  I don’t speak a word of Dutch but I didn’t need too to understand that conversation.

Ton and I decided to just leave François where he was and head into Albi to have a look around.  Albi turned out to be a real Gem.  This is why you do these trips without agendas,  to find places like this.  Our first stop was  the Toulose-Lautrec museum.  The museum has an incredible collection of his art, because apparently the Louvre turned down the collection when his parents offered it to them.  The museum is housed in the Palais de la Berbie which is the old palace of the archbishop of Albi.  The building is as impressive as the art collection.

An example of the art in the Toulose-Lautrec museum.
The exterior of the Toulose-Lautrec museum which is in the old palace of the archbishop.

Next door is the Cathedral of Albi, which is the largest brick church in the world.  We went into the Cathedral and it was as impressive as the outside.  We got a break as one half which usually costs 5 euro to get in was open in preparation for a concert so we got a free look at it.

A view of the ceiling of the cathedral in Albi.