Well, as I mentioned previously, time was now dragging. We were so eager to see our new home again and believe me, being 10000 miles away does not make matters any easier. I looked at the photographs almost daily. (Luckily Stuart loves taking photographs and we had plenty to pour over, even though I have to admit that when he was taking them, I did think he was taking way too many). We had an appointment on the calendar for March 31, 2015 to go and sign the final papers, do a final walkthru and get the keys. Working at a school, I had planned to do this during our Spring Break. Perfect timing. A week before leaving, I filled a large suitcase with goodies to leave behind in France, some clothing, several pairs of shoes I had bought – was not planning on buying anything after packing the container but I walked into my favorite boutique in Brentwood and simply could not resist 3 pairs. They were just calling out to me and so what could I do, but buy them. Oh, and I sneaked in a few cans of refried beans, not sure if they carry that in my local Intermarche and I do love refried beans with my chicken fajita. When they run out, I will be making my own. I will be sure to share all the recipes with you, do not fear. My recipes section will start taking shape once we have moved. So, please come back and look for that in late summer.
Now, back to our trip. This time we decided to fly into Bordeaux instead of driving from Paris. We had never been to Bordeaux and it would be a great opportunity to visit the city, which will be our nearest big city. We flew Air France into Charles de Gaulle, transferred to a Bordeaux flight and then jumped into our rental car and off to Le Bugue, a pleasant two-hour drive away. I had booked a gite for us to stay at. As it turns out, it is actually right near our house and you could actually see the tower from the gite. What a coincidence! It was a lovely little studio cottage and served our needs perfectly. Oh, and the owner who lived in the house next door was incredibly sweet and helpful. What more can you want? The weather was not on our side however, it was cool and drizzly 5 out of the 6 days and we had not really packed appropriately. All my wintry things were already in storage and in Los Angeles, even in March, you do not ever need a thick jacket, let alone a coat. I must admit that I was not very warm. But, once again the warmth and charm and friendliness of everyone we met more than made up for it. I have a confession to make here. I had warned Stuart that the French might be rude, unfriendly and the bureaucracy would be a nightmare. I prepared him for the worse. Now, do not get me wrong. I love the French and France, I am French myself after all. But, having lived in Paris for 5 years, I have had my fair share of rude bureaucrats. I will never forget going to the Prefecture to get my driver’s license, it took two days, or the headaches in trying to open a bank account without an electricity bill. For those of you that do not know, in France, you need a utility bill, quittance d’EDF to prove your very existence no matter what. Not easy to get when you first arrive because you cannot open an account without a quittance but you cannot get an electricity bill until you have a flat and you cannot get a flat without a bank account. You get the picture. Well, as it turns out, this was a totally different experience. I think it is due to being dans la campagne/in the countryside. People could not have been nicer. From the bank manager in opening an account, to the insurance agent at AXA, to the notaire who finalized the signing of the sale, to the owner/waitress at Creperie Abreuvoir, (who remembered us from our visit in September). Great little restaurant in Le Bugue, by the way. Even signing up for an electricity account in Perigueux was completely and utterly painless and with a smile, no less. What a wonderful experience. It was really as if things were just meant to be. The world, well the Dordogne, at least was inviting us in with open arms and a warm smile.
On the first evening, we made a mad dash to the store to buy supplies and even though it was a large Intermarche, I was oohing and aahing at the choice of yoghurt, pates, breads, cheeses, sausages and the chocolate of course. But, that needs its own page. I could go on about the chocolate for ages. Being just before Easter, the bakeries all had these delicious Easter Brioches. So yummy! Market day in Le Bugue is Tuesdays and Saturdays but the Tuesday market is much bigger. Boy, did I enjoy that. Even in the drizzle it was great. We bought all kinds of food. You would think we were going to be there for 2 weeks and not just 5 nights but who can pass up on all those inviting veggies and meats, not me.
The old owners of the house invited us around several times to walk around, chat, show us every nook and cranny. Mr Seger spent hours with Stuart explaining how the tractor mower works, every power tool in the workshop/atelier, the irrigation system, the heating system, the septic tank etc. We had bought most of the contents of the atelier from them as they would no longer need a tractor mower amongst other tools and large machinery and we would now need all those things. As you can imagine, Stuart is just loving the thought of playing with all his new toys. He even tried out the tractor. This will be quite a change from sitting at a desk for all these years, working as a CPA. Mrs Seger shared all her favorite bakeries, restaurants, market stalls. The one that does the best croissant does not do the best baguette and the one with the tastiest baguette is not the same as the one with the best miche. I cannot wait to try them all. Actually, I have to tell you a little secret. I could not wait to try so the very next day we sampled all three. I will need to do a lot more sampling to decided on my favorites though, all were really good. But that is a job, I will happily undertake. Someone has to do it, no?I think I might have a very willing volunteer in my husband, Stuart, as well. I do not know of many people who love bread quite as much as he does.
We managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing as well. We visited the Gouffre de Proumeyssac. It is currently the largest developed cave in the Périgord. A tunnel provides easy access to this vast underground vault, whose walls are adorned with a multitude of closely-packed and exceptionally beautiful crystal formations. Quite a sight. A must do when you are in the area. We drove around, got “lost” and visited several cute villages like Audrix, Tremolat, St Alvere. The Dordogne is so very beautiful with quaint villages at every turn, magnificent scenery and over 1000 chateaux. Just driving around is truly a feast for the eyes.
After a few days of dealing with the necessary paperwork, we left Le Bugue for a night in Bordeaux. Neither Stuart nor I had ever been before and were looking forward to it. We had booked at a little hotel right in the centre of the old town and walking district, Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre. A lovely, modern, spotlessly clean, (I am rather fussy when it comes to cleanliness), central and best of all, very reasonably priced, hotel. I would highly recommend it. The most tricky part was finding the parking structure as it was about a 10 minute walk away due to the centre being pedestrians only. Our GPS got a bit confused with the buildings and all but eventually we found it. It was FULL!No, that could not be. So, we went in and proceeded to drive about 6 levels underground then back up then down again, several times over until eventually we found a spot. It was the right size for a Noddy car but luckily we had one of those and Stuart expertly maneuvered the car into the tiny spot. Once settled into the hotel we decided to walk around. Bordeaux is a beautiful city. We found this amazing wine bar, Bar a vin at the Ecole du vin. No wonder everyone loves this place. Amazing list of local wines by the glass, sparkling, whites, roses and reds and incredibly reasonable prices, average $5. Beautiful classy and refined space and they even serve small plates of food, cheese and charcuterie. After several glasses of sparkling wine and reds, we decided to head off and look for a place to eat dinner before retiring for an early night. Bordeaux, we will be back. One day is simply not enough time to scrape the surface.