Ali's Adventures

May 8, 2011

Adventures in Europe – Part 2

Filed under: Adventure,Vacation — by Alison @ 9:03 pm

So when  left off we had our massive vehicle and were about to leave Perpignan to find our farmhouse.

My mom is amazing at finding these house rentals. We had both been looking on the various home rental sites, but she stumbled across Mas le Moulin. It was just what we were looking for and the price was fantastic, especially split 3 ways. Which reminds me that I still have to pay my mom.

The home owner had provided us with interesting directions. Reading them I was convinced we were going to get lost, and was very grateful for the GPS on my phone. However, reading the instructions as we were driving and they turned out to be excellent. Except for the initial instruction upon leaving the station to “remember the view because that is where you need to head to in order to join the main road”. A helpful cab driver directed us to the main road we needed, so we were all set.

Just a side note about how much roundabouts rock. We managed to never get lost while driving in France, because of all the roundabouts. Each exit had signs, so if you weren’t sure which was the right exit, you just did another loop of the roundabout until you got yourself sorted. It might have seemed odd to other drivers, but I’m sure the size of our giant vehicles clued them in that we weren’t locals.

Here are a few photos of our house that I took:

Playing chess on the upstairs terrace.

The oldest part of the house dated from the 16th century.

We had fires most evenings. Stone farmhouses can be damp.

I didn’t take any pictures of the bedrooms because by the time I thought of it, we’d been there a few days and the rooms looked like they’d hit by a clothes tornado.

The house was great, and we spent most of the time just hanging out. There was a daily morning run to the bakery for bread and chocolate croissants. We were easily going through 3 or 4 baguettes a day. My son would take a chunk of bread and happily wander around the house and garden.

The pool wasn’t as warm as we hoped it would be. The solar heating is probably fantastic in the summer months, but left a little to be desired in April. We did swim a few times, but my daughter prefered hanging out by the steps.

We weren’t hermits the entire week though. We visited the beach in Argelès-sur-Mer. Guidebooks had warned against staying there as it’s considered “tacky” and maybe by French standards it was but we enjoyed our afternoon there.

First view of the Mediterranean.

We couldn’t find any carousels but there was an inflatable play area.

We also visited Carcassonne. (You may recognize the name from a popular tile game, which we had brought from home and played a few nights). Casrcassonne is a really interesting medieval city that was rebuilt in the 1800’s. The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with tourist shops, filled with the most impressive collection of toy weaponry I’ve ever seen. Some of the bows looked a little too realistic, but the maces and swords were obviously plastic. We toured the castle and walked around the city walls.

It must get very busy at the ticket booth in the summer.

Carcassonne

Our other trips were to the old town centre in Perpignan. My sister took us out for dinner one night, as a belated birthday celebration. They tried snails, I did not. It was probably the best meal I ate in France. However, before we found the restaurant we walked past a bakery that was closing for the night, and inside were the most delectable looking rum balls. As they were closing, I decided to wait and go back another day.

We also took the kids into Perpignan, while the rest of the crew went to the mountains. My sister and her fiancé went hiking, while my parents sat in a café and visited an old monastery. My sister highly recommends than anyone planning on hiking on Mont Canigou come prepared, as part of the path required rope assistance to climb. They were in jeans and running shoes (hiccup) but managed okay.

On our day in Perpignan, we again passed the bakery but I decided to wait until after lunch. However, when we went back after lunch the bakery was closed. The region is heavily Catalan, so very Spanish in some aspects – including the siesta. Many stores, restaurants and bakeries closed in the afternoon. I wasn’t too concerned, as we were planning on going back to Perpignan on Good Friday for the Procession de la Sanch and I figured I could visit the bakery then.

Good Friday was our last full day in Mas le Moulin. The traffic was very heavy in Perpignan, and finding parking was difficult (hiccup). Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who’d decided to see a 600 year old tradition. We luckily made it into a parking garage right before the march was to begin. Once we met up with the other car load, we headed to the square in front of the church. It had started to rain while we were driving, and the rain got heavier and heavier.  It was miserable. The kids were getting drenched, we couldn’t see anything because of the crowds, and all the floats depicting the Passion were covered in plastic sheeting. After about 30 minutes, we gave up and decided to go back to the car. My parents wanted to stay, so we headed off. The bakery was in the opposite direction as the parking garage, so I never did get my giant rum ball (hiccup).

However, that night for dinner we had a belated celebration for my sister’s birthday and I got my share of tasty pastries.

Birthday treats.

The next morning, we packed up from the farm house. Turns out we didn’t pack up everything (hiccup). The owner is sending my sister in the UK a package with the clothes and toys we left behind.

To be continued with our last night in France and excitement in Plymouth.

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2 Comments »

  1. Isn’t Carcassonne neat? It’s current form says more about the eccentric that reconstructed it than it’s actual roots, but it’s still pretty cool. I’ve only been to the south of France once, and the trip was basically planned around Carcassonne. I have the game, and had to go see it when I found out it was based on a real place.

    If you’re interested in it’s history at all, CBC has some good podcasts about the Cathars.

    Comment by Sasha — May 8, 2011 @ 9:51 pm |Reply

    • We had a great time in Carcassonne. We bought the game when we knew we were going there. I’ll have to check out those podcasts. I don’t really know anything about the history, except for what I read in the guidebooks.

      Comment by Alison — May 8, 2011 @ 10:54 pm |Reply


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