Night Location: Sarlat, France
Song of the Day: On the Road Again - Willie Nelson
Mumisode of the Day: The Mumisode today involves more the reaction of our group and the double meaning that the word 'log' can have. During the introduction to the house, we informed the manager that Mum was good with fires so that he didn't have to explain how it worked. On meeting Mum shortly after he said, "I hear you're good with logs." Mum's startled expression and slow response of "Yes," are what makes up today's Mumisode. Since then there has been a lot of teasing about her expertise with logs.
Another beautiful day in the South of France. Leaving the hotel early, it was fairly icy; perhaps the town was right in closing the stairs. Our temperature gauge dropped to -0.5 this morning, the lowest so far. The car made its way through the valley that was shrouded in a deep fog. The trees out the windows looked a little eerie and then the windows began to fog up.
Eventually we climbed high enough into the mountains so that we emerged from the fog into a splendid blue sky with sun. The scenery was just magnificent. Today the route included a large section of this year's Tour de France: Stage 11 according to David, the section where a French media car collided with cyclists and knocked out at least one contender. We felt very sorry for the riders as we drove down the hill that they would have pushed up. Quite steep!
Our drive wound through the mountains toward Puy Mary, the highest peak (1787m) in this area. Just as we were about to pull in to the car park at 1589m, two fighter jets flew over the top of us, and wound around the side of the mountain toward the valley. It was an extraordinary sight and sound.
The surprising aspect of the visit was the spontaneous decision to climb to the peak of the Puy Mary. From the car park, it looked like it was going to be quite steep but not very far. Looks can be quite deceiving. After only a few steps up the path, Gemma and Amber wondered what they had gotten themselves into. David powered ahead like a mountain goat; we could see his figure getting smaller and smaller. Gareth, after returning to the car to get his jacket, overtook Gemma and Amber and headed off after David. We kept going, very slowly. The path was very steep; every few feet there was a large step. Unlike traditional steps that are flat, these death steps were on a very steep angle so just climbing up one was an effort. There were about 240 steps, and we climbed a vertical height of 200m in this time. Smashed.
A number of Amber's group photos were taken from the top. We all waved to Mum and Dad, tiny specks below. It is impossible to describe the view from the top. This area is ideal for walking; the paths are well marked and the ridges are cleared. From this peak it was possible to walk along the top of the ridge to the next peak. There were some 'serious walkers' at the top, complete with beanies, gloves, skins and dog. We in our jeans and some of us in casual shoes did not look quite the part.
After descending slowly as a result of 'death steps' according to Amber due to the occasional patches of ice, we were quite keen for lunch. Not far up the road was the little town of Salers. The town looked quite dead on first glance. Mum made us all laugh by peering over the curtains into a restaurant, only to startle the diners inside. We didn't go in there. Instead we had one of the greatest lunches so far. Surprisingly, a decision was made to brave another French omelette, and this time complete with cheese and no froth, it was delicious. Two huge bowls of pommel frites (French fries) and tomato salad completed the meal.
The final detour of the day was to the 'Ever After' castle, something that Gemma and Amber had wanted to visit since they had seen the movie for the first time. Sadly, this too had closed five days previously so we had to reconcile ourselves to exterior photos. Amber scaled the castle wall in order to get the perfect shot!
From here, after picking up some groceries, the drive was relatively uneventful except for Claude's decision to take a short cut through the countryside. You always know you are on a great road when you see a tractor coming toward you. It was here that Amber, a little confused as to the continent, suggested that we should look out for kangaroos as it was dusk. She then added, after realising her mistake, that we would be in for a shock if we saw one. David then suggested that if the kangaroos had a Navman like ours, they could well be here.
The house in Sarlat is fantastic, complete with roaring fire. Tomorrow we plan to have a lazy morning exploring the town followed by a drive around the countryside in the afternoon.