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Time to get a little medieval

sunny 19 °C

Thursday night was our last night in Cauteret and another quiet one and not necessarily by our choice. The town is just so quiet because of the fact that it is off season, that only a couple places are open. We didn't go out until about 8pm and as we expected, we were the only ones walking on the streets. The one restaurant which was opened and seemed full of local business told us that they were full and didn't seem to want us to come back later as we would probably be the only one to show up for a second seating and I think they wanted to be closed by 9. For the most part, the hospitality we are seeing is very warm and understanding of my butchering the language, but every now and again (it can happen anywhere), we walk into a brick wall. The menu's here are perfect for me as they are full of lamb and duck and often things that are a little more unusual than the norm. Natalie, on the other hand, is craving a salad and wondering why when the national symbol is "le coq", she can't find any chicken on the menu anywhere.
We ended up going to the only other open place in town which looked more like the local pub than a restaurant and ended up having an excellent meal with fantastic service.

Friday morning we had a 350km drive ahead of us to the town of Carcassonne. We wound our way through the backroads for about half the trip and then I got a little thirsty so jumped on the highway and sped things up a bit. We checked into our hotel and quickly head for the centre of town which is a little village built into a a castle thats history dates back to 100BC. Tourism has messed it up a little as the centre of town is t-shirt shops and postcard shops, but it is a big enough place that you can get away from that and then it is pretty magical. And it wasn't so bad that beside the t-shirt shop they put a bunch of great restaurants and bars as well. It was spectacular in the day and at night. Some more recent history, this is the castle where they shot parts of Robin Hood with Kevin Costner back in the early '90's. This town didn't have much else to offer and our next stop is Aix-en-Provence which is the best place in the world to find rose wine...so we enjoyed yesterday, but got on the road early today. I decided not to find a bar early this morning to watch the France - Wales rugby world cup semi-final. Somehow I don't think I would be up for todays 300km drive if I did that. France won, so we'll make sure we catch the final.

This morning's drive was another mix of rural and highway. We are definitely out of the mountains and into the wine region now as the temperature has gone up again and the prices of grape juice keep going down. We snapped the bottom photo this morning as we drove through a little farm town. We thought about stopping for lunch in the little fishing village of Meze, but ended up getting to Arles before we stopped. It was clear we had just missed Saturday morning market or the party after the rugby game as the downtown area was getting a wash by the sanitation department. We found a little place across the river and away from the chaos that looked good. I ordered a surf and turf salad to start that was fresh greens with duck and local scallops, shrimp and salmon which was amazing. Natalie ordered the bouillabaisse which is a giant fish soup with vegetables. The last thing she asked me before it arrived at the table was, "you don't think they are going to stick a whole fish in my soup, do you?" A terrine that would serve four arrived at the table and not only did it have a whole fish, but it had plenty of little creatures that still had eyes. She just looked at me and said, "there is a guy in my soup...in fact, there are lots of guys in my soup!!" She managed pretty well and it was delicious. My second course was a fillet of a local white fish, then a cheese course of local goat cheese and olive oil arrive and I finished with a creme caramel. I love how they do big lunches here, it usually makes for a light dinner. Now we are in Aix-de-Province and are looking around at our options for rose wine tours for the next few days. Stay tuned.

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Posted by colincampbell 11:21 Archived in France

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