debbieahlers

Debbie and Ken's Excellent Adventure – we take off…..

My Last Post – Part Two – We’re Homeward Bound, Again

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A final week for this trip and it has sped by. Robin Hood Quiz (Trivia) game (“our” team won! – Ken and I just watched: we are definitely not the target audience for the questions), and a BIG “Thank you” dinner for Michael and Odile at Pastis, a fabulous restaurant, recommended by my food and wine expert: Geoffrey. It did not disappoint. We wanted to do something very special for Michael and Odile, our very gracious hosts for the month (including Lauren). They have been wonderful sharing their flat with us. It made all things possible this trip. Pastis has a chef’s “surprise”, 5 course with wine pairings dinner: a true French experience. We were a bit concerned, well not Ken, of course (LOL), that it would be too much food, but, since each course was a small work of art and taste, it was exactly the right amount. I can’t even begin to describe the ingredients or the wine pairings (which went from the local to end with a beautiful Riesling from Germany with the dessert), but it was a meal I will never forget.

Red tuna and onions

Red tuna and onions

Of course we didn’t start until after 8, when they open, and it went on for almost 4 hours.
Cheese and fruit course

Cheese and fruit course

The restaurant, with only a few tables, was filled, even with some younger people, which surprised me, as it was not the least expensive meal we’ve ever eaten. We had so much fun and it was good to spend some time with Odile and Michael in that setting, and with that experience. We owe them so much. We will miss them and hope they come and spend some time at our place in SC.
Dessert with mint ice cream

Dessert with mint ice cream

A final night with BJ and the gang from InterNations, which BJ organizes on Wednesday nights, first at a little tea and chocolate shop that her friends own (and where we had a wonderful homemade dinner), B’Cosse, and then on to Le Clandestin, a wine bar, for wine and talk.

Thursday we had a treat visiting our landlords from last time, Annie and Gilles, who own a 15th Century B&B in St Pons de Thomieres, a small town a couple of hours from Montpellier, near the mountains. It was good to get out into the country for the day (a tram and 3 buses on the outbound, a bus and a train and tram on the inbound: an adventure and challenge to get to our destination without getting lost or abandoned: no tourists or English on the buses, of course). Gilles took us for a quick tour of the town, where we saw houses with “1581” carved into the marble arched doorways to signify when they were erected. To get through the little historic streets and its turns, even though Gilles has the typical SMALL car, he had to collapse the side mirrors to fit through the narrow streets (which we did very slowly and carefully so as not to scratch the car). Guess they didn’t allow for the width of cars when they built the streets in the 1500’s!

St Pons

St Pons

Old Market, now a 2nd hand shop

Old Market, now a 2nd hand shop

Annie and Gilles, as well as Flo, Annie’s daughter, who we had met last time we were here, treated us to an afternoon in their home where the wine was flowing (as well as a pastis for Ken) and the meal was many coursed, delicious and beautifully served. We had many interesting discussions, even though they had not used their English since we had been there last. The afternoon passed quickly and we were glad we had re-connected with them.
With Annie and Flo

With Annie and Flo

With Gilles, Annie and Flo

With Gilles, Annie and Flo

Friday, another get together at the BookShop, where we met some of our friends, including Alex and Saphia, and then out to a delightful dinner with BJ.

Saturday, 2 friends from home, who are staying in France for 3 months, some of the time in a town near us, come for a visit and also to see some relatives who are here. We spend a delightful afternoon with them, lunching outdoors for 3 hours (consuming 2 bottles of wine, of course) and walking around a bit. Wonderful to hear all about their experiences (they have seen many small towns and landmarks near them) and kind of weird to see friends from SC in our world here. BUT, how absolutely awesome to be sitting outside in perfect weather in the historic district enjoying the atmosphere and connecting with stories of all of our adventures. Scott has been working on his French and his accent is impressive. Glad they are making the most of their experience.

Shayne and Scott - friends from home

Shayne and Scott – friends from home

A quick note about all these extremely long meals: the wait staff in restaurants are well paid and only a small tip of a euro or two or three is all that is expected, if anything (even on $100 tab). Since they don’t have to worry about turning the table to get more tips, everyone is content to let the patrons just sit and enjoy. They do not even come with the check until you ask for it! Really makes for a different eating experience.

Time is quickly fleeing. Tomorrow is Cooking Club at Geoffrey’s (theme Is “Fresh, Seasonal and Whatever You Can Find at the Outdoor Market”: French cooking at its best!). Monday, a final Barbu card game and dinner at BJ’s. Tuesday we get ready to catch our flight early Wednesday morning.

Some final thoughts, as this will be my last post for this current adventure: we have decided to research how we can come back for an extended period of time (9 months? A year or two?), but we are torn, as it feels like home, BUT, there is a wide, wonderful world out there to still be explored (plus, there are many issues with visas, taxes, healthcare, etc. etc.). We love living here, especially being with the people who mean so much to us. We have learned the difference between experiencing a foreign land not as a tourist, but as locals. Of course you know which experience we prefer. That all being said, Life happens, and who knows what the future will bring. We feel very blessed that we got to do this at all, and hope to be back. So, thanks again for following my blog, and stay tuned……

At InterNations party

At InterNations party

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8 thoughts on “My Last Post – Part Two – We’re Homeward Bound, Again

  1. You and Ken are fit so many adventures in your trip….can’t wait to hear more about it. See you soon.

  2. What a wonderful travelogue but really more cause you make and include friends. Ah the wine I would love; brings back memories of Paris….

  3. I so enjoyed reading about your experiences. I felt as if I was there with you. Safe travels home!

  4. I’m sad that your journals have come to an end! (By the way, I make sure I have wine near me when I read them even though mine comes from Binny’s Liquor Store and not an exotic sounding French shop!)

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way for you and Ken to live in France for an extended time as well as see the rest of the world – does it have to be one or the other??

    Safe travels!

  5. Hi Deb, you know I live vicariously through your travel adventures! You provide the most wonderful and intimate details of your travel experiences – I appreciate how you describe your adventures and provide the observations of life as a local. I don’t know how I missed Part 1 and look forward to one of our lunch dates when you return to hear all about your wonderful time in France!

  6. I have loved reading your blogs, Deb, as they transport me to your wonderful world abroad. Your friends seem almost familiar to me, as characters do in a novel. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, and I always learn a thing or two… as well as get my travel bug aroused. 🙂 I think you have found something special in France, which may not be replicated anywhere else. It will always be a great place to return to, for a visit or something more permanent. You inspire me with your great ability to form friendships with people of all ages, all while keeping up with your love of food/cooking/wine. Best to you!! ~ Marjorie (one of the original Hot ‘n Spicy’s) 🙂

  7. Welcome Home ,the both of you are an inspiration to us all reading your blog on” How to Live the Good Life” Thanks for sharing your travels and adventures in France
    Karl & Denise

  8. Great post, I too love to travel, some of the photos and culture reminds me of italy! Florence especially. They all have similar look. Very beautiful. I just discovered your blog! Maria

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