Leaving Sydney and arriving at our first destination in Toulouse the end of winter was still very evident in the bare trees and the rugged up residents and somewhat of a temperature shock to us after our long hot summer. Coats at the ready we launched ourselves at southern France!
Into the car and off on a sightseeing drive to our house in Trausse.
We picked up baguettes and ham and picnicked along the Canal du Midi – still feeling the cold! A stable conversion attached to the Chateau at Garreveque for our first night’s accommodation included a guided tour of the chateau with Madam Chatelaine. I’m glad its not my responsibility to provide for the upkeep of the property and I’m not surprised that diversifying into boutique accommodation is helping keep such places going. The spring flowers in front of the Chateau in the early morning gave a glimpse of spring in front of the still bare trees….
Our home for the next week was a house built from a barn conversion in the little village of Trausse in the Minervois area of the Languedoc. The road to our house was too narrow to accomodate a car so like our neighbours we parked in the communal car park in a nearby square and walked to the red shuttered house, which like all the others, adjoined its neighbours on both sides.
Inside the house was beautifully equipped and we kept warm by stoking the cast iron fire in the living room. The back courtyard is a sun trap and was a lovely place to relax in the afternoons. Big, fat bees buzzed around a pungent wisteria, a banksia rose and several old rose varieties. A great way to recover from jet lag and we found ourselves acclimatising to the change of seasons.
The village has an amazing array of colours in the shutters and doors of the houses which really enlivens the somewhat dull colours of the stone walls of the buildings….
Naturally, being in France, food and drink were vital ingredients in the house in the village experience. We enjoyed collecting our fresh croissants from the local shop, buying from roadside stalls, foraging in the markets as well as a few supermarket trips!
The area is largely given over to vineyards and there are hundreds of wineries in the area. The vines were just coming into leaf and there was a lot of work going on weeding between the vines, repairing the trellis wires and planting new stock. We have certainly enjoyed sampling last year’s vintage – particularly the rose! The blue irises and a few red poppies were around in the verges and add a flash of colour to the earthy colours of the vineyard areas.
Days were spent exploring the area – often encountering the Canal du Midi somewhere. The canal was originally used as river transport for grain and other products but is now mainly a venue for water based holidays on barges and boats. Some big, some small, often with bikes on top. Sitting along the canal picnicking or having coffee or lunch in Trebes it was fun watching the sometimes less than experienced bargees navigating the locks. Mind you, I don’t think I would be any better!
Finally in this bulletin – some trivia – we were really surprised to see, in several supermarkets, the country of origin of the white onions….