Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Trip to Castres

The past few evenings have been quite chilly, which made me think this morning there might have been a touch of frost on those pumpkins we saw in someone's garden yesterday while on our walk up the hillside. I wore a t-shirt under my long sleeved shirt with a light cotton jacket to start out but the jacket came off by 11 a.m. and the t-shirt was all I needed in the afternoon. Quite different from the 40 degree Celsius weather the locals experienced last week before we arrived. I'm hoping the warmer weather will return but it is still very pleasant.

We started off on today's adventure around 9:30 a.m., six of us in two cars. Gwen was taking us on an excursion to nearby Castres (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castres), a small city about 40 minutes away by car through the French pastoral countryside. It appears to be the end of sunflower season, although the flowers have not yet been harvested, they are still standing in the fields looking very dry and faded with their heads drooping down, rather sad to see.

Our first stop was an art store. A little bit of everything was available, but Gwen thought their supplies were much diminished compared to earlier in the summer. Most of us stocked up on sketchbooks and drawing pencils, intending to sit in a cafe later in the day and sketch but somehow this did not come to pass. Hopefully on another day.

After the art store, we went to the fabric store, where again, we all found something we had to have.

We then headed into the centre of the city for a short, scenic stroll before lunch at a restaurant called La Victoria, a five course meal that was quite delicious. We have decided it might be better to eat a heavier meal at lunch time and a smaller meal in the evening, rather than the other way around.

After lunch, more strolling about. We found a street that was filled with optical stores and Kate, Doriot and Dawn all bought new glasses for themselves. Meryl, Gwen and I tried on various frames but did not buy any, as the ones we liked seemed rather out of our budget's reach in the 250 euro range.

We then spent some time in the village square, which reminded me of St. Mark's Square in Venice only without a big cathedral on the east side. The same vast expanse of space, with stores all about and cafes spilling out into the square. Especially since we had stopped to look at the houses on the Agout River first (see photo on left). We sat for an expresso and a little people watching after Meryl hit the Orange store for a French SIM card.

Then it was time to head home to Durfort, with a quick stop at the convenience store in nearby Soreze for milk, fruit and bread for both dinner and tomorrow's breakfast. We had a champagne tasting before dinner (together with pistachios and these tiny little bits of goat cheese decorated with savories like pepper or onion that looked a bit like sushi but were oh so creamy good!) followed by a dinner of pasta, salad and fresh fruit - delicieux!

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