Posted by: jimndianne | November 9, 2009

Snow and Simone!

9 November 2009 France

We were up bright and early so that we could collect the lovely Simone (our daughter) from the airport at Toulouse, after her early flight on EasyJet from London, where she lives. It was great to see her once again, despite having caught up with her in New Zealand in mid October. Aren’t we a travelling family! Although tired, she happily settled down in the car to enjoy the unfamiliar landscape of SW France as we headed to the south to peruse the mountainous area down near the border with Spain and the Pyrenees.

Le Fousseret, a picturesque little hill town, beckoned us around lunchtime but as usual between 12 and 3pm most eating places are closed. Luck was with us though. In the town square the owners of a delightful bar/cafe were happy to oblige us with some “pain avec jambon et fromage et salade” (chunk of French bread with ham and cheese + salad) – delicious, plus of course, French coffee. 001 A village up in the mountains, Saurat, had been mentioned by a new French friend, Nathalie and her man, Jerome, so we decided to check out the area. Being skiers ourselves, it’s always useful to survey the snow areas for possible places to ski any time. This time, we decided to stay on the quicker Autoroute (motorway) where you must pay a toll and the maximum speed is 130kph, though people generally drive much faster…

At St. Girons we entered the beginning of the mountains and immediately noticed that there was snow covered peaks all around. Undeterred, we continued on the winding mountain road hoping to find a nice little Gite (or guest house) to stay for the night. All of those we encountered, though, were closed, not quite ready to open for the winter ski season.

009 The scenery up there was simply breathtaking, snow hanging heavily upon the trees but as we found more snow upon the road and we were not using chains on the tyres, we became a little concerned. However, a snow-plough truck driver in front of us clearing the road told us happily in French that it was fine, there would be no problem using the road. With a sigh of relief we found the road now took a downward turn and bit by bit the snow disappeared.  There were numerous small villages along the way but most 010homes seemed fairly closed up. Finally at Saurat, where Nathalie’s parents had their vacation home, we made enquiries for accommodation and located a guest house  close by up high on the hillside overlooking the village. We were the only guests and our host, Ron (with wife, Till) of Dutch nationality, made us very  welcome as did their two energetic dogs, Flora and Moshka. A spacious triple room was offered upstairs, Wifi internet included, in their renovated two-storey home and dinner provided by Ron, a professional chef!

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With little prior notice, Ron prepared the tastiest 3-course meal of firstly, a flat pasta with a creamy mushroom and garlic sauce (to die for), then a vegetarian meal for Simone (whole artichoke with dipping sauce, pumpkin mash and other green vegetables). For Jim and I, it was medium rare steaks with sauted potatoes, pumpkin mash and vegies (I forget what), followed up by a selection of fruits cooked in a pan in a honey sauce. Oh, and don’t forget the red wine!! We did sleep well though.

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A view from the bedroom window showed the snow was creeping closer.


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