Ups and Downs in FranceThursday, May 3, 2012
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Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or Amsterdam!
La Belle Cour, safe and sound. Smooth flights from Dulles to Brussels, then on to Toulouse, then a two hour drive to Vias, with the opportunity to discover a new-to-us place on the way. We stop in Castelnaudary, whose claim to fame is the Languedoc specialty, cassoulet. As we drive up to the old part of town looking for an interesting restaurant we pause with a WOW at this towered arch.
The town is also a starting point for Canal de Midi boat rentals, and just beyond this charming old bridge is a wide basin with several boats moored, several with luncheon-of- the- boating - party scenes on this sunny day.
What's the "down"? Well, our luggage did not arrive in France with us. Never a happy occurrence, right? We sat on the runway for an hour before taking off from Dulles, leaving us with just over an hour to connect in Brussels. Kirk and I made it with no problem, and even had time to dash to the Star Alliance lounge for a cappucino and pain au chocolate, but for some reason the luggage did not make it. So we filled out all the forms in Toulouse, warning the agent that we would be staying a long way from there, and for just a couple of days. "No problem, it is the airline's fault, and they will get the bags to you".
We've rented the smallest car for this trip, and had talked about where we could stop for lunch on the way to Vias, knowing that our pile of luggage would be too big to stay hidden, so we couldn't consider leave the car unattended while eating (how many tales have we heard about car windows being broken to get the valuables inside? It's never happened to us, thankfully). Well now we just have our two little carryons, nicely tucked in the trunk, so we can stop anywhere we want - look on the bright side, right?!
Lunch is an I- know- I'm - in - France moment, with a Salade de Gesiérs (Gizzard salad) for me - not something I can get in the States, unless I bring back a can of Gesiérs Confit and make it at home. Kirk's bountiful salad, with a multitude of cheeses, from goat to cantal to roquefort, is another delicious taste of France.
It's been a month since we were in the south of France, and it is, of course, much greener now, with vineyards sprouting with spring growth, fountains of golden broom and poppy strewn fields delighting our eyes as we drive.
job he couldn't finish when we were last here due to rain. We've been praying for good weather this time so he can get this done before the spring/summer renters come to enjoy our place!
I'm doing indoor chores, and calling the airport to see if our bags have arrived on later flights. No answer in Toulouse, so I call the United 1K baggage number, and they confirm that our bags are in Toulouse, having arrived on two different flights, two different airlines - who knows why??! I keep trying to get an answer at Toulouse, and finally do. Yes the bags are there, but since we are more than 150 kilometers away they will be sent by Chronopost, and not delivered to the door as we expected. And the Chronopost pickup is not until Friday night at 6, so we should get the bags by 1 pm Saturday, IF they arrive on time via Chronopost, which in our minds is NOT a sure thing. Well we have to leave early Sunday for our Music and Markets tour in Barcelona. So what if they arrive after we leave? Whose responsibility are they? United says they're now Brussels Airlines problem (so much for the premier baggage service for 1K customers...) Brussels Airlines says they're Avia Partners problem, and when they're picked up by Chronopost the responsibility will pass to them. This is definitely not reassuring... so we come to the conclusion that we'll have to take FOUR hours out of our already very full day Friday to drive to and from Toulouse to get the bags ourselves. You can imagine how we feel about that!
Let's just put it out of our mind and enjoy dinner. Vias' best restaurant is Le Vieux Logis, in the 13th century volcanic stone townhome of the ancient lords of the Agde bishopric, tucked inside the sole remaining gate, also of volcanic stone from Agde, of the walls that ringed the village in the 1200's.
Stuffed oysters for Kirk, and a melt- in- your- mouth confit duck leg for me, accompanied by some good Languedoc wines, do a good job of filling our minds with good things as Vincent, the owner, smilingly serves his full house.
The huge fireplace of Le Vieux Logis is a listed historic monument - I'm sitting beside a treasure of our little country village!
Lost luggage and lost time are minor problems - we have so very much for which to be thankful!