As world travelers and photographers, Henderson Productions joined forces with our friends from Poggio Amorelli B&B to explore culinary France. Master Chef contestant Angela Perkins contacted chefs in five distinct regions and asked us to design and document the trip. We knew it would be a journey for our senses: to see, taste, smell and touch France. Above all else, we aimed to enjoy the adventure. We are delighted to report those goals were met and more. Along the way many chefs gave us permission to include their recipes to help you recreate some of our experiences. We invite you to appreciate the bounty of their gifts. Bon Appetit et Bon Voyage.
We departed Tours around 11 and stopped for gas and rest/refresh at 12:45 just north of Bordeaux. Interesting rest stop with breads and sandwiches and a large selection of regional specialties including salts from the Aquitaine coastline and melt in your mouth caramels. Three coffees and a Fanta por moi.
From Bordeaux to Toulouse we cruised past vineyards and plum orchards with a crumbling barn here and a medieval chateau there in all directions. We read about Gascony and the real d’Artangan and hundred year wars and religious wars and baronial struggles to claim this fertile land. Inviting small roads winked at us on the highway like a courtly flirtation – enticing but, alas, our chastity remained pure to our goal and we pressed onward to the Pyrenees.
The French have left the rural lifestyle in droves but still revere the image proving just one of their many contradictions. We’ve read and then later witnessed huge landscapes of farms and small villages. My morning walk through Guiberol was an indication of simple country life and Paul so much as said so when explaining the don’t have nor need street numbers. I asked about emergency services ability to find them and first he said, “the local fire department learned the villages.” He then continued, “there are three levels of triage before an ambulance is sent: a nurse/paramedic will assess the situation and, if needed, post someone on the main road as a guide for the next, a doctor, who will provide as much as possible assistance in the home. Next would be an emergency team to assist the doctor and only then, again only if necessary, would an ambulance be summoned.” Basically, numbers aren’t a necessity and the focus of all care is in the home as much as possible.
I think if I was going to rent a house barge it would be in this valley – of the Garone. It seems less stressed than the Loire and more architecturally diverse than Normandy. Certainly, more depth of history is available here with the prehistoric cave paintings through the Romans, middle age crusaders and three hundred years of wars. Yet it seems somewhat sleepy and quaint. To begin in Bordeaux and end in Toulouse is not a horrible fate.
The outside temperature has risen and the sun blissfully shining the further south we’ve come on our April journey. Good scheduling for the weather. We’ve been told a cold front is coming from the north including Normandy and Paris. We don’t mind a bit as we turn on the AC to vent the late afternoon warmth on the highway.
As we made a turn south from Toulouse the landscape rises and falls with vibrant fields and more livestock. The snow-capped Pyrenees rise directly in our view contrasting the cool purples and stark whites of the distance with the warm sunny yellows and greens in the valleys below.