Leaving the Perigord. Our kind restaurant with rooms hosts do give us a ride to the bus stop and we leave our bags there by the stand and amble over to a café for the wait. I throw a glance at the bags and see that the café owner’s dog is sauntering over to sniff them out. Oh God, I know what’s next. Ed! He’s doing un petit pee pee on the dry sacks! Thanks, pooch.
Eventually the bus comes, we get on it and a half hour later we are in the connecting town of Sarlat.
The layover hours in Sarlat are pleasant enough. The medieval streets, buildings – all of it quite picturesque.
We walk up one street, down the next...
...trying to avoid the commercial heart, because all the foie gras stores eventually get to you. There is so much of the stuff here that you have to wonder – maybe we ought to ease up for a while on the geese and ducks and clear the shelves for a year or so. (I write this even as I admit to loving the taste of especially the cheaper one -- duck foie gras.)
The Perigord walnut makes an appearance as well, though less frequently. In ice cream or salads, on pastries.
We stop at the café that boasts great ice cream and spend a good hour there, reading, watching. A woman comes in with her dog. Not unusual. Lots of dogs are café regulars. But this dog is more than just French mollycoddled. She folds up a blanket and places is on the ground next to her. The dog steps onto it, stretches a little. The owner sips rosé wine and the dog dozes off in the warm, summer air.
It's getting close to noon -- our departure time. A few more steps through the old streets...
...and we turn back toward the train station where – gasp! – our bags are exactly as we had left them on the bench.
Our American English is overheard by two other travelers – from Oregon as well, only the real one – the state (my Post Office is in Oregon, Wisconsin). The coincidental similarities are reviewed and properly acknowledged. Similar ages. She teaches, he’s retired. He rode his old BMW motorbike to Central America, as did Ed. And so we continue in this friendly fashion for a while and I am reminded that if you ride public transportation, your chances of being closed off from the world are next to zero.
In Souillac, we find our car, equally unscathed, undisturbed. We buy bread for the road and I stop in at the pottery store I had admired before and talk myself into buying wee gifts for daughters back home.
We drive out and away from the Perigord (pausing for a roadside picnic lunch of the bread and a cheese -- made warm by the hot breezes that zip through our little car as we speed along with windows rolled all the way down).
And now we're back in the region of Languedoc.
But a bit north of Sorede and several dozen kilometers inland. I find a very lovely bed and breakfast, La Souqueto -- a double can be had here for 50 Euros (approximately $70) a night and the breakfast is so copious that you may as well count it as lunch, too. We're here for a two night layover. It’s a short walk from La Souqueto to the Canal du Midi and ever since my Pierrerue days five years ago, I’ve wanted to come back and take a look at the canal again, with my boat-oriented traveling companion.
No time to look on this day though. We get so lost and so turned around in local detours and small roads that it’s suppertime by the time we roll in to the small village of Mirepeisset.
We eat at the village tavern (called La Taverne) where on this night the mayor is hosting a small party. Mind you, the village itself is tiny. I have to think that everyone gets to be mayor at some point.
The food is wonderful. Sorry, but I am running low on adjectives for meals eaten on this trip. We both take the fixed price menu and my vegetable appetizer and seiche (cuttlefish) main course are dazzling.
As is the apricot clafoutis.
And the rosé... ah, the rosé ... Here, in the Languedoc, is where I first fell in love with this gentle wine. Because it is too pricey for me to have on a regular basis back home, I rarely drink it there. And so a glass of rosé will forever recall, for me, a way of life where pleasure isn’t spoken of in hushed tones. Where an afternoon break – a long one – is essential. Where an evening meal starts late and when it’s done, there’s nothing left to do but walk home in the faint glow of streetlamps, pull down the cool sheets and roll into delicious sleep.