All of our 4 days with the Franks were a highlight. They are such delightful people. We met them first in Brunei, and we became game-night buddies. Then we participated in a bible study group together and the Franks attended church with us regularly in our home. We have already visited them at their home in Bouzouls two times previously, and I have a good feeling there will more visits.
1. Mushroom hunting and nut foraging
2. Discovering the beautiful small medieval villages of Aveyron
3. Pech Merle cave paintings
4. An evening out with a michelin star chef
5. Game night with both families
1. French train strike threw our plans into disarray
(click below-right to read more)
Thursday October 13: We woke up early to walked to the Toulouse train station and boarded our 2.5 hour train from Toulouse to Rodez. Our friend Jeremy Franks met us at the Rodez station and drove us back to their home in Bouzouls, about a 20 minute drive. After a joyful reunion with Linda and Todd Franks at their home, we went mushroom picking in the forest that afternoon, and brought back a haul of cepes (French mushroom) which we ate that evening.
Friday October 14: We headed out to visit the Pech Merle caves, with their 29,000 yr old cave paintings, and took a walk along an old canal route, with carved out limestone space for horses to walk, and visited one of the most beautiful towns in France St Cirq-Lapopie. (There are hundreds of most beautiful towns in France by the way)
Saturday October 15: We had a slow morning, then went to visit another most beautiful village in France of Conques, with the requisite incredible cathedral from the 12th century, and some lovely gelato and a nutella crepe, and then we sent the kids home, and Todd and Linda and Tera and I had dinner at the Michelin star restaurant of Table d'Herve Busset.
Sunday October 16: We went to church at the branch in Rodez, then went to purchase lunch food at the open market in Marcillac. We came home for lunch and naps and went back out visit the Abbye of Bonneval, where the nuns make the most delicious chocolates. And we listened to the evening Vespers singing of the nuns in the abbey cathedral (one of the most beautiful sounds in the worldl) and spent some time in the forest gathering chestnuts. We prepared dinner upon our return and then played a few rounds of cards with everyone. We also spent an hour in a frantic rebooking of our train and hotel to Paris due to a strike cancellation.
Monday October 17: Our final day included a slow morning of blog post composing and picture managing and scrabble playing and a walk into the canyon of Bouzouls, and a viewing of a stuntman falling from the cliff. Then we had a lunch of french comfort food - rabbit and pasta, and a quick game of 42 (the state domino game of Texas), a drive to Rodez and a 7-hr train ride to Paris.
1. Mushroom hunting and nut foraging - Linda loves being out in the forest, and she loves fall mushroom hunting. We can either buy the large beautiful mushrooms for 32 euro per kilo, or take a hike in the woods and find them for FREE! I was a little suspicious the first place we went, thinking we would likely discover nothing, but I was pleasantly surprised, and we took home a haul, and had wonderful sauteed mushrooms for dinner. We also brought home walnuts and chestnuts galore, picked up from the trails whereupon we walked.
2. Discovering the beautiful small medieval villages of Aveyron - Linda took us to some of her favorite villages, St Cirq lapopoie and Conques, both were beautiful villages set on the hill, with houses from the 1400's, with narrow cobblestone streets and castle lookout towers, utterly charming. To steep ourselves in the history and old architecture of this place is really rewarding, and so different than the USA.
3. Pech-Merle cave paintings - There are numerous caves in France with ancient cave art, the most famous and noteworthy cave being the Lascoux caves. But those caves have been closed to the public since the 70's due to degradation of the paintings. Pech-Merle caves on the other hand are still open, and we took the tour. The numerous wall paintings were dated to between 10,000 and 29,000 years ago.
4. An evening out with a michelin star chef - One of our favorite evenings out with the Franks is to have dinner at one of the numerous French michelin star restaurants. No bourgeois ordering off the menu is required. Sit down and enjoy as 7-10 dishes are served, each one unique and art on a plate and delicious.
5. Game night with both families - We sat down after dinner, with our two kids Megan and Jacob, and the Franks children Emily and Jeremy, and played a card game, "Mormon bridge". It was a very fun evening of a fun game, with some of our funnest friends.
1. French train strike threw our plans into disarray - Europe is the labor strike capital continent of the world, and we were no less affected. First by the gasoline strike, which made finding gas at gas stations difficult, and more relevantly by a train worker strike. I had originally bought tickets for the family to take the overnight train from Rodez to Paris on Monday evening. But on Sunday night, I was notified that the train had been cancelled due to a strike. We spent a frantic hour figuring out new travel plans, whether if be a flight from Toulouse to Paris, or a different train route, and a new hotel booking in Paris. But we got it sorted out.
Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.