Another charming southern house belonging to another friend of mine. We eat lunch on the impeccably set table in the garden where we once again feast in the manner that the French do so well. Four courses and fruit and cheese and chocolate and Champagne. Ah….heavenly.
It is another scorcher of a day sunny and 34 degrees. We walk to the Chateau de Pau, the Chateau where the French King Henri 5th was born sometime in the 1500s. This is also where his wife Catherine de Medici (also known as Madame Serpent) lived. She was called this because she allegedly poisoned her son “The Dauphin’s” mistress whom she did not like as well as her husband the king’s mistress Diane de Poitier. Ah! Murder and intrigue in the 14th century. A sort of “Desperate Medieval Housewives”.
From there we visit gardens. Look at some shops, walk along the beautiful Boulevard des Pyrenees lined with Palm Trees and motes and bridges and waterfalls and linger over cafe au lait and chocolate eclairs. Fortunately we are averaging around 5 hours per day of walking and today is no exception so we allow ourselves the indulgence of pastries.
We visit the St Jean church where King Henri married Catherine as well as St Martin Church. Absolute beauty!
We drive back to our Pied a terre in Lescares in the odd dune buggy and arrive to another wonderful meal surrounded by neighbours and friends each one of them having a different Port or Rose or Red wine to taste.
When dinner is over at 11pm we go for a dip in the pool as we have done each night since we arrived in Pau. This makes for a much cooler night’s sleep.
My daughter has now resigned herself to the fact that “le diner” is simply not served before 9pm, that there are many courses to get through and that every day she will have to kiss on both cheeks ten to fifteen strangers who will all declare (as if it has not already been said by every other person) that she is the image of her mom!
She is a trooper though AND she does not even have the comfort /convenience of her cell phone!! So there is no texting and she is meeting different people every day! She is also learning that in the South of France eating is a religion. As for me? I am whole heartedly converted.
Today another super hot sunny day and we drove to Arens a small village at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains. We have another beautiful lunch outdoors. Everyone goes out of their way to be as hospitable and this location is no different. Yet again we are in an idyllic setting …as our host’s back yard IS the chain of mountains and once again the four courses come out and the house wine and we finish with cheeses from J’s goats.
So to burn off that lunch we go for a hike all the way to 14,000 meters. We can’t see the peaks of the mountains as they are completely cloud covered. In fact, our hair is all wet from the moisture in the air. We can hear the bells on the goat herds but cannot see them due to the fog.
We pick wild blueberries as we go. At one point we sit down for a rest. We cannot see our friends because of the fog but we can hear them talking.
We no sooner sit down and pull our water bottles out of our backpacks when quite suddenly out of the mist appear an entire herd of goats! Literally hundreds of them; twelve goats across and a good number trailing behind. We are sitting right in their path and they are coming full steam ahead our way! I’m not sure I can convey how amazing it is and how nervous it makes us! We quickly stand and I yell out to the figures ahead which I can’t see; “What do we do when we are in the path of a head of goats”???
J yells back ” you will be fine they will go around you.”. And they do! It is quite something!!
About one hour later we come across the ram all on his own and in this case we are advised to pick up a big rock and hurl it if he bucks. Thankfully he is not interested in us.
Stay Tuned fornext installment…..