Move along, move along. Nothing to see here, except vacation pics. (Oh noooooooooo, vacation pictures?!) This is a self-serve post–you can jump ship now, or you can take a gander at our trip. I’ve put together three different galleries, to help with a bit of context. St. Cirq Lapopie and the Sud-Ouest. Meursalt and the Rando-Gourmande. And last of all, Paris.
St. Cirq is about 70 miles north of Toulouse, which puts it in the Southwest corner of France. We spent a week there, using our lovely renovated 15th century digs as home base for forays to Toulouse, to the market at Cahors, Rocamadour, to the Gouffre de Padirac and to Pech Merle, one of the last sites of neolithic cave painting open to the public (alas, no photos allowed, for all the right reasons). We spent a couple of days in Meursault, visiting our friend and Provencal biking guide Thomas Keville-Davies. Tom’s renovating a 15th century mill, transforming it into a small inn for people looking for a launching pad for cycling or culinary adventures in Burgundy. As luck would have it, we timed our visit for the annual Rando-Gourmande, an incredible 8-kilometre hike through the vineyards surrounding Meursault, with stops for food and wine all along the way. We wound things up with a visit to Paris in order to catch up with another friend, Jody’s college roommate and our frequent host in Provence, Amy Cohen. After dinner in the wonderful Lou Tiap the night before our flight home, all of us were walking back to Bastille when the commotion from an open bar made us peer inside. US versus Belgium, overtime just starting. How could we not stop and watch? French fans moaned right along with us the US eventually yielded to the Belgians. It almost made me forget about the ten extra pounds of fois gras and smoked duck breast I was packing around my middle. Almost. Enjoy. Ken
Click on an image to see a larger version of it.
St. Cirq Lapopie, with various shots of Cahors, Toulouse and environs.
Meursault, Tom’s mill, and the Rando Gourmande.
Wonderful pictures, Ken. It’s so nice to see you and your family. Those pictures of the Sud-Ouest are so beautiful. I’m glad you enjoyed Lou Tiap, that picture of Anne and Olivier is great!
Hi, Darya–Thank you so much for turning us on to Lou Tiap. We had so much fun! Anne is hilarious–it was great batting the ball back and forth over the net with her. And of course the food was fabulous. Temperature and season notwithstanding, I couldn’t resist the cassoulet, preceded by the “Gascon breakfast.” Rocamadour was wild, but mobbed, so I skipped the pilgrimage to the Black Madonna, so far with no ill results. If you get a chance to visit the Gouffre de Padirac, by all means go. It is, admittedly, a tourist destination, but it’s also one of the most memorable cave systems in the world–the 20 minute boat ride, with caverns opening above you is extraordinary. Ken
Thanks for the recommendation, Ken. I don’t mind tourist destinations that are actually worth seeing (there’s got to be a good reason for a place to become a tourist destination after all), and that boat ride sounds like something I would love!
Beautifiul photographs! They make me want to go back to France. I am sure it was a wonderful vacation.
Thank you, Beth. We rarely take a regular vacation, i.e. a trip with no responsibilities. This was made all the more fun for both seeing friends and some parts of France we’d never visited before. Ken
Nice pix!! (I think I hate you.)
Thanks, Sally. We are WAY overdue for a drink. Almost all of the shots in this post (and others that don’t appear here) were taken with a small Fuji x100s, a truly extraordinary camera. Tiny, discrete, wicked sharp. I dragged along my DSLR because I wasn’t sure if the Fuji would be sufficient. Next time, I leave the DSLR home. Ken
How lovely and yummy!!
Thanks, Ayako. We had a great time! Ken
Great photos as usual…how lucky was I to be part of this amazing journey!!
And we enjoyed travelling with you, BA. On to Sardinia! Ken
So envious. How I miss France!
It really is a magical place. Far from perfect, but magical nevertheless. As the only one who spoke French in our group, I had to endure the background drone of the latest twist in the Sarkozy scandal, relieved only by recent soccer scores, filling everyone else in about what was going on. Also, sort of interesting to be driving out in the middle of the bucolic countryside, envisioning happy farmers making Comté and Epoisses, and then turn a corner to see posters plastered to the side of an abandoned barn for Jean-Marie Le Pen’s right wing fringe. Ken
The Southwest is sad in so many ways. Amazing that it never recovered from WWI. Those who were left mostly didn’t come back. And then the Brits and Dutch and Americans and others bought so much up as vacation homes. Makes for beautiful and unspoiled storybook villages, but so seldom are they real, living places. And, certainly it’s a hotbed of the right wing. I remember signs and graffiti for Le Pen Senior all over that part of the country a decade or so ago. Looks like you had a lovely trip, though. And, really, how could you not?
Clearly you know more about French history than I do. I wasn’t aware that WWI had such a devastating impact. Ken
Great photos as always, makes me want to visit France so much more now. Everyone looks like they are having so much fun. Nice to see…
Hi, Maryam–Definitely worth a visit, even better if you can cobble together a few sentences in French (outside of Paris most people will be more impressed at the effort you’re making than the mess you’re making of the grammar). And the food… oh God, the food… Ken
Wonderful pictures, really enjoyed them ALMOST as much as your recipes! You both certainly deserve a vacation, so glad it was awesome.
Haha, thanks Jenn. We have a list of goodies in store, all inspired by our trip. Stay tuned. Ken
Lovely pics, lovely places, lovely food and evidently lovely people. So glad you had such a good time. It’s good to have you back though!
Thank you, Linda. I happy to be back too, and yet… There’s a part of me that would gladly live out my days in Puglia or southern France. Then again, wouldn’t we all. Ken
I particularly love those mother-daughter shots. Clearly they are enjoying each other’s company. We, your faithful readers, are hungry for some vacation-inspired recipes. A vicarious trip to France is almost as good as the real thing, especially when accompanied by good food and drink. Looking forward to hearing more about what appears to have been a wonderful trip.
Hi, Alison. Thanks for your kind words. Before our son left for college we managed a February trip to Rome six years ago, another very rare family vacation. Trips like these mean something when you know your kids are setting off on their own journeys. Roxanne had a great time–and we had a great time with her. She’s going to Paris to live with Amy in the fall in order to learn French at the Sorbonne. French, of course, no longer has the cachet it once did, but given our connections to Haiti, you never know when she might find it helpful, or opening doors. I’ll be talking about the food and traditions of where we travelled as we work our way through a list of things we ate that we’ll be adapting for the blog. Ken
There’s not much that would make me want to be a teenager again, but the prospect of spending a year in Paris learning French… Lucky girl!
Believe me, I know what you mean. This whole trip had an eerie (but good) feeling about it. I went to Switzerland, where I learned French, when I was 19. Roxanne was such a pleasure to be with this trip, but I kept having this strange sensation of peering back down the telescope at some younger version of myself, or perhaps the memory of my own excitement as a teenager, some familiar echo of “Oh, yeah, I remember discovering that… and that… and that.” Funny. Ken
I had the same feeling when we were in London, en route to Spain, and I watched daughter Melanie navigating the tube. The gap between their experiences and ours feels like it is narrowing. Which is kind of cool.
You’ve catered the essence of the region beautifully with your selection of photo’s. Our home is near Toulouse and whilst I am in London at the moment, your post made me long for next month when we will be there!
You have a home near Toulouse?!! I am so jealous. I love history, archeology, photography and food–and there is so much to see, learn and experience in that part of the world, and in our brief week in St. Cirq we did little more than scratch the surface. Of course if I were going for any extended stay I’d also have to get a decent road bike or I’d soon resemble the Michelin Man. I’m glad the photos worked for you. Ken
Love your photos. Good to know what little camera you use. I’m going to check it out. Your daughter’s gorgeous. Boyfriends yet???
Oh, alas, yes…
Great pictures!! Seems magical.
Thanks, Elvira. It was. Ken
What a fabulous trip. Can’t believe the size of those hail stones. HUGE. You wouldn’t want to be caught out in that storm! The last time I was anywhere near Toulouse was when I was 12 so I think I am overdue a trip.
Anyone interested in food, history, or hiking–it’s wonderful. St. Cirq is also, I believe, one of the “villges d’étape,” a way-staton en route to people walking the pilgrimage route to St. Jacques de Campostelle (e.g. the strange fellow in the pics with the hat, glasses and head towel). Definitely worth a visit. Ken
Beautiful photography Ken!!!
Thank you, Tal. Maybe the Middle East is next… Ken
Sounds great!!! We would be thrilled to see you here!
Thanks so much for your beautiful pictures and your message.
We was nice to meet you. I hope that you feast with our products and will leave you of good memorie from sud ouest.
We hope too see you again next time in our market from cahors.
Hugo & Laetitia DELAFOND
SALAISON LOU PAIS
Thank you, Hugo and Laetitia. We had a great time–and your food was delicious. We’ll definitely recommend that any friends in the vicinity of Cahors make an attempt to track you down–artisan work at its finest! Ken
No plan to visit Italy??
Ha! We ALWAYS like visiting Italy. We’re doing a cycling/cooking trip in Sardinia at the end of September. Ken
Wow this is so beautiful. Thanks for posting. It’s cool to see your family just relaxing and having fun. France seems like such a magical place. I love people’s vacation photos. And photos from France, forget it. :)
I got some keepers of Jody and Roxanne, and sundry friends, and you’re right about France. Thanks. Ken
You really did! I’m making your rillettes this week. I can’t get them out of my head. I’m very excited to open up this slow cooker and my preserved lemons…and nervous too. Will report back. If chicken works out, I’m so going for the rabbit.
Let us know how it goes. Don’t forget the chilled rosé to go with them. :-) Ken