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Where To Next?

August 1, 2014

So our sojourn in Canada came to an end.  We said goodbye to family and friends and headed further east across the Atlantic.

Arriving in Lisbon

Hello Lisbon

Our flight around the world, gratis due to Aeroplan air points, took us from Toronto to Lisbon for a quick turnaround for the final flight to Toulouse.

No we didn't fly Air Lingus

No we didn’t fly Aer Lingus

Flying has become more of a trial than an adventure.  Poor service, even worse food and flying through hubs makes flying these days something one wants to end as soon as possible. Screaming babies in the seat next to me, a piece of banana bread for breakfast and no movies on Air Canada made for one of the worst flights I have had across the Atlantic Ocean.  And, believe it or no,t I have been flying over the Atlantic off and on since my first flight in 1952!

However, no matter how horrible the flying is these days it is always exciting getting to a new port.  We ended up in Toulouse after 36 hours of travelling, a place we have never been to and the beginning of our summer in France.

Gare de Matabiau (Toulouse)

Toulouse Railway Station

 

Toulouse is not our final destination but rather St. Antonin Noble Val, 75 km northeast of Toulouse where our sailing friends Herve and Evelyne live. However, Toulouse beckoned  so we settled in for our first experience in a French environment.

First was a visit to the local cathedral to give Connie a chance to light a candle for her father and one of many needed for me!

Connie at the

Connie in the  Basilica St Sernin lighting the votive candles

Not only did we visit the Basilica St. Sernin for sightseeing purposes but in the same evening we went back for a Brahms and Mozart recital with a choir and a violin soloist.  What a way to start a visit to France.

Basilica St. Surnin

Basilica St. Surnin

Toulouse is the manufacturing centre for Airbus,the centre for the SPOT satellite system has a big chunk of the French National Space Agency.  The airport bustles with flights from around the world but also seen on the runway are the odd experimental and more functional Airbus industry planes used for a variety of purposes.

What the ? is this plane used for?

What the ? is this plane used for?

Okay this is the strangest plane I’ve ever seen.  Sorry I don’t have a better picture but seen side on it looks like the front of the plane is a large porpoise. I have been told it’s used to carry the fuselages of planes manufactured by Airbus and being transported to other locations for assembly.   Perhaps someone knows better than me?

So Toulouse isn’t the centre of southern France’s tourism trade but it does lie on the Canal Du Midi and is midway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  I will tell more about the Canal du Midi in a later blog after we bike along the canal from Carcassonne to Sete.

Toulouse, not being a tourism centre, is a large regional centre with a university and as such the city bustles with students, hi-tech junkies and the occasional French tourist with a heavy smattering of North Africans. It’s a bustling centre but there’s always time for the long prix fixe, or plat du jour, lunch.  The downtown streets have lots of people and stores selling all sorts of items from wonderful cheeses to all sorts of hams as well as all the

 

Hams for the taking

Hams for the taking

latest fashions. Someone has money.

 

2 nights later we were off to St. Antonin Noble Val –

Toulouse to St. Antonin Noble Val

Toulouse to St. Antonin Noble Val

 

What a wonderful little drive.  On our arrival in St. Antonin Noble Val our friends questioned why it took us 5 hours to drive from Toulouse as opposed to the requisite 1.5 hours it usually takes them to make the same trip. Well, I said we had to get into the French mood i.e. take our time, sample the food and not to be too serious.

The countryside was beautiful.  Fields full of ripening wheat, sunflowers about to bloom and grape vines by the hundreds of hectares.  The rolling countryside lulled us into a stupor as we rolled over one hill after the other basking in the warm breezes coming in the windows of the car and taking in the occasional small château, abbey, small village or church.

On top of another hill

On top of another hill

blah blah blah

Eglise Saint Corneille – Puycelsi

 

Finally our  first French hosts -our French sailing friends, Herve and Evelyne.

Connie, Evelyne and Herve

Connie, Evelyne and Herve

2 Comments leave one →
  1. MaryLynne Rimer permalink
    August 1, 2014 12:35

    France sounds amazing. Hope we catch up with you in Italy. Am planning to read Narrow Dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington on our travels. I look forward to the segment on the Canal.

  2. Anne Boldt permalink
    August 1, 2014 17:50

    We arrived in Nelson this afternoon… sunny and hot.
    Thousands of miles away from where you are.
    Keep the travelogues coming.. feels like we are almost by your side!
    Love ya both,
    Annie and Lornie

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