Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting Out of Dodge

They say that all roads lead to Rome. Unfortunately, those roads seem to come at a pretty high price at this season. Thus Rome, theoretically a lovely destination for our kids' Toussaint school break, was not to be. We'll get there eventually (actually I've been there once before) but for this school vacation, we instead stayed in France, spending five days and four nights in the Languedoc and Midi Pyrenees regions. We lucked out with some sensational weather and took it slow, travelling by train and car alongside fields that were both recently harvested and newly planted. The medieval city of Carcassonne was a big hit, especially lit up at night, as was the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi, the artist's home town. We took a long day trip to see the Viaduct de Millau, an incredible feat of engineering spanning the Tarn valley, courtesy of British architect Sir Norman Foster and Gustav Eiffel's construction firm, now known as Eiffage. And we even made a stop to visit the caves of the cheese giant, Société, in Roquefort. At the suggestion of my neighbor, I checked Kate Mosse's Labryinth out of the library just before we left, and enjoyed reading about the region's most challenging era, the Albigensian Crusades of the 13th century, at the same time as we visited many of the places described in the novel. (Reader beware: my husband described Mosse's prose as "overwrought.")

If you're thinking about heading that way, I can heartily recommend La Maison Vielle in Carcassone (where leaning out the window I caught the image above)and Le Phenix in Rabastens (between Toulouse and Albi) as lovely spots to stay.


Anonymous said...

When we programmed our Garmin to take us from Domme to Arles we had no idea we would be going across the Viaduct du Millau! It was one of those point of no return moments. Once we crept across the bridge we could appreciate the beautiful structure and also saved 3 hours off our journey.

Starman said...

Loved Carcassone. Went there by train from Toulouse. Met some lovely Suisse ladies on the train.

Harriet said...

After our stay in Domme, we went to St. Cirq Lapopie and then made a day trip especially to drive across the Viaduct de Millau. We loved it! We have a much smaller version here in Charleston, SC which always brings memories of le grand pont.

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