Leaving the French Atlantic seacoast town of Mimizan, we scanned the map that was proposed by the sat-nav system and decided on an alternative route. Instead of sticking to the motorways which were fast and efficient, we would go cross country in a diagonal route and travel almost exclusively on small roads through rural villages and regional towns. What a wonderful decision that was!
Travelling deeper and deeper into the countryside and moving ever southward, the changes in architectural style were immediately apparent. The deep gray and dark gold stone buildings of Normandy were giving way to more and more buildings that were stucco rendered. And by the time we were a few hours from our final destination, we remarked again and again that one valley looked like a slice of Tuscany and then next one after that looked like a piece of Spain. This was a very different sort of appearance to the traditional towns further north and the scenery was stunning on that bright and sunny day.
All-day-long availability of meals in France is simply impossible and there is a small window of opportunity for eating at lunch time that lasts for approximately 2 hours. Knowing that we had entered that window of time, we stopped in Sabres for a multi-course plat du jour which included the main course (a large piece of medium-rare steak, sauted vegetables, and frites), a glass of red wine, a desert of our choice (creme brulee), and finally an expresso. Yum!
Saturday plat du jour lunch break in Sabres, France
Driving for several more hours, we next stopped for a beer at a sidewalk cafe in the pretty market town of Samatan
in the Gers region of the Midi-Pyrenees. This is the starting point for Stage 15 of the 2012 Tour de France.
Streetfront in Samatan, France
The sun was hot against our skin, the ice-cold beer was incredibly refreshing, and the street scene around us had a distinctly Mediterranean feel.
Fountain in the town square in Samatan, France
The building below was distinctly Italianate in both style and colour.
Italianate building facade in Samatan, France
The strangely warm weather had brought out pedestrians clad in thin, cool clothing, cyclists, and people driving with the top down in their convertible sports cars. This was our last stop as we drove and within a few hours, we were entering the outskirts of St. Girons in the Ariege district of the Midi-Pyrenees and heading toward our newly rented house.
Classic open-top sportcar (convertible) on the streets of Samatan, France
Stay tuned — the upcoming posts will be slices of life from our new home in the south of France.
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