Skip to main content

Planning Our Next Visit to the Languedoc

We have forgone our annual visit to our little village house in Cazouls-les-Beziers this year. It was a difficult decision but one must eat and, if this one is to eat, this one must work. Besides, we have special plans for the spring of 2010.


Pictured at niece Maggie's graduation from Bryn Mawr are, from left to right, wife Cathey, brother-in-law and Maggie's dad Paul, Maggie, Cathey's sister and Maggie's mom Connie, Connie's twin Liz, and Liz's partner Sharon.

When the twinnies turned 50 (we call them twinnies), Connie hosted a birthday bash in her home in Houston. We decided that to celebrate the twinnies' 60th birthday, we'd host them in France. Just Connie and Paul, Liz, and me and Cathey. After much checking of schedules and a series of long-range negotiations, we settled on the last two weeks of May. The weather should be beautiful - daytime highs about 70F, lows around 60F.

Have you ever traveled in a group in a foreign country? Not a tour group. I'm talking about a group of intelligent, curious, related adults including three sisters each of whose middle name is Drama. (That may sound a bit extreme but I'll stand by it.) There's a simple way to deal with it, really. Obvious. You have to treat your time together as though you ARE on tour. You just can not wake up in the morning wondering what you are going to be doing that day. You have to have a plan...and not a plan drawn up by committee. You have to have a tour leader.

Me.

Every minute of every day will not be carefully planned. Oh, no. But out of our fourteen day stay there will be outlines for at least ten of them. Here are some examples:

Light breakfast, drive to Domaine La Croix-Belle for a lengthy tasting and to stock up on wine, home for a light lunch, second tasting at Chateau Cazal Viel, home to freshen up, dinner at Auberge de la Croisade - a fine restaurant in the country along the Canal du Midi.

Light breakfast, drive to Sete to give the girls a taste of Mediterranean oysters for lunch, back through Beziers to shop at Au Marchon for any houseware needs we discover and for groceries. Home for a light dinner.

Full breakfast, free day for the boys, the girls cook dinner for our Brit friends from Capestang.

Light breakfast, day trip to Albi - home of Lautrec, find a place for lunch, home late for a light dinner.

That may sound like a very loose schedule but it's really not. The tasting rooms of vineyards are not necessarily open every day, their schedules are seasonally adjusted, and they usually are closed for a long lunch. Lunch is served from noon to 2:00 PM in the countryside and if you show up at 1:45 you won't be seated.

So there are rules, a framework to follow. It works. I know. We've done it. You should try it next time. It works better than trying to herd cats.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BURGER KING, NARBONNE: RESTAURANT REVIEW (GOD FORGIVE ME)

After 48 years, The Southern Woman That I Married can still surprise me.

We went shopping the other day. You see, we're at the beginning of the French winter sales. Yes, stores here have sales all of the time, but I'm talking about THE SALES. Twice each year, once in winter and once in summer, every store holds sales. It's an official thing. There's a national start date (although it may vary a bit from region to region), a national end date, and stores are not permitted to bring in stock just for THE SALES. So these are true clearances. Discounts can be 70% or more. Serious savings.

Yes, I know. Controlled capitalism. How could it possibly work? Hint: It works because everybody buys into it, even the capitalists.


The day before we hit the shops, Cathey said,"Let's have lunch at Burger King." Be aware that Cathey has been trying to find a decent hamburger ever since we arrived in France. We've tried Buffalo Grill. We've ordered a burger at one o…

ASIA MARKET, BEZIERS: WORTH A VISIT

The Southern Woman That I Married is an accomplished, multi-cultural cook. Over the years, our table has been graced with examples of authentic fare from the world over. If there is one limitation to the diversity of the menus that Cathey can create here in the south of France, it's the availability of proper ingredients. Sometimes, it's the simple things. I've spent my entire life enjoying lox on a bagel smeared with cream cheese for breakfast on a Sunday morning. There's fine smoked salmon on display in just about every supermarket here, but even though the packaging of Philadelphia Cream Cheese looks the same as in the States, the formula is clearly different. It just doesn't taste the same. And a bagel? A real, honest-to-goodness, Brooklyn-style bagel? In the rural south of France? Fuhgeddaboudit.

For Cathey's cookery, more exotic fare than bagels and cream cheese is required. Almost immediately after our move here four years ago, she lamented the difficult…

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…