From The Loire to The Gers!

Slept a bit fitfully if the truth was known.  Just as I was finishing my blog last night a creature of gigantic proportions emitting a thunderous and angry buzzing sound started to swoop around the bedroom.  It was too dark by the light of my laptop to see what it was and Bob was fast asleep so I decided to shut down and see if it would go.  In time honoured fashion, and terrified it might end up in my hair, I disregarded the stifling night heat and lay with the duvet up around my head, peering anxiously out.  After a couple of minutes all went quiet and I deduced (hoped ) it had gone…..  No idea what it was.  Maybe a hornet.  Maybe some sort of terrifying moth.  Nothing that lives in Kent that’s for sure.

So was a bit bleary eyed for breakfast at La Roseraie, served by Rosalind and John.  Lovely bread and preserves and all the usual French things…. most importantly a jug of good coffee.  Such nice people

We set off about 915 heading south on the motorway again.  Endless vast fields of sunflowers, maize and wheat beginning to give way to vines.  We stopped for lunch at 1230 at Saintes, a gorgeous ancient town on the river Charente.  Only minutes from the motorway, the town is incredibly well preserved in the ancient heart, with tiny winding alleyways and cobblestones.  The Romans established it as their regional capital and there are remains – an amphitheatre and a triumphal arch to Germanicus, one of the grandsons of Augustus.  The arch was erected by a local Gallic Roman dignitary in 19AD and has a most interesting dedication.  Anyway, really liked Saintes and it would bear a great deal more exploration than we were able to give it.

We had lunch in a small wine cave bistro up one of the side streets.  A small but delicious 3 course menu for 17.5 euro.  No one wanted all three courses so we just had bits but really nice food and a good bottle of grey rose wine.  Such a more enjoyable stop than yesterday.  It really pays to get off the motorway.

On we went, motoring southwards, past Bordeaux where the road was busier and south again into the rural country of the Gers, part of ancient Gascony.  Mike and Sheila’s lovely old farmhouse is somewhat near Tarbes, deep in the countryside in a little hamlet.  We arrived just about 5pm to a warm welcome and the sun still warm on the garden.

There was a lot of catching up over some delicious nibbles and a bottle of local rose sparkling wine and then we moved to another of their outside dining venues for dinner.  Sheila had made us a fantastic slow roasted leg of lamb with dauphinoise potatoes and ratatouille, followed by an amazing cheeseboard, almond and raspberry cake with ice cream and washed down with several bottles of delicious local red wine.  Looking forward to visiting some of these producers over the next few days.  Finally we sat out on their terrace watching distant lightning storms and talking the day away with some smooth local Armagnac.

So glad to have arrived here for a great few days!