October 18, 2010
The high-velocity winds have hit our area of France. So things have cooled off considerably and we must hand onto our hats when we leave the apartment. I am glad that a purchased a beautiful scarf in Barcelona. I wear it like a French woman and it keeps me very warm.
We have been given the keys to the brand-new Ford Focus. Stephen told me they bought the car just for us so I asked if I could take it home! It navigates through the narrow streets like a small car but it is a 4-door model and so seems like a mid-size model. It’s diesel but has great pick-up, is quiet and does not smell like diesel—one of those 21st century diesels.
The Hartleys have an engagement so we take off for a day on our own. We drive up into the hills to discover nice views of the hill-tops, the valleys and the vineyards. We are looking to buy some wine but we discover that everything is closed until 2pm so it’s time to have lunch. We find a café in the village of Aniane. The pizza looks great! I order a crème, onion and goat cheese pizza and H orders a pizza with tomato sauce, bacon and cheese; the pizzas are accompanied by great salads. For dessert I get Iles Flotant (I may have really messed up the spelling but it’s “floating islands”—meringue cooked in a “liquid” custard. I’m really messing the detail description up but use your imagination and know that it is delicious. H orders crème brulée.
After lunch we look for and find Mas de Daumas Gassac winery. We first purchased wine from the winery through Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant many years ago. In 2000 we visited the winery with the Berrys. In 2008 we discovered that the winery was fairly close to the Hartleys and they had already discovered the great wines of this wine-maker. Get the movie “Mondo Vino” for a glimpse into the winemaker’s vision. He single-handedly stopped Mondavi from desecrating the area for winemaking in this area of France.
We have been to the winery at least 3 or 4 times and always had the same gracious lady offering us the tasting. But this time we had a young wiper-snapper who was anxious for us to buy the wine and get out. It was very unsatisfying. We purchased their 2nd label wine that we recently purchased at home and left. Our stop at the Monetpeyroux cooperative, where we had purchased wine a few days earlier was a better experience. We purchased more of the same and the lady was very helpful. I asked about a bakery for bread and she laughed—it’s Monday and no one is open. Bummer…
We get home and fill Stephen and Cat in on our day. I need to make a few reservations for the caves we are to visit in the next 3 or 4 days. Some I can book over the internet—that’s easy. One I have to call. The man laughs at my French. Now that’s nice to hear—I hate ridicule! We had hoped to have Fabienne give us a refresher course in French before we left but there was too much to do. But I feel very happy with my French on this trip thanks to Fabienne’s great instruction over the years. I do not hesitate to speak French and when I do people seem to understand me. So, Merci, Fabienne—we will be back for your help!
We are experiencing France as never before. There are general strikes in France now as a result of the French government suggesting change to the retirement age. The current retirement age is 60yo and the proposed change is to 62yo. A general strike means that all public employees in France stop work. The oil refineries have been blockaded. So there are panic “runs” on the gas stations. It is expected that 50% of all flights out of the Paris airport will be cancelled. There is some worry that our trip home might be affected but that is a week away. We can investigate flying out of Barcelona if we run into problems. We’re confident that we’ll be able to get home on time.