Tuesday 28 May 2019
An early start! Up at 04h30, and left at 05h30 with all 1500l of car storage utilised, heading for folkestone.
Smooth driving and a faultless crossing, we were leaving Calais at 09h30 (CET) for lunch in Nonancourt. Le Grand Cerf was lovely, Declan having a spring salad and creme brulée and Maddy a creamy salmon main.
We then drove to Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat, just east of Limoges, to stay the night at Le Jardin des Lys. It is a quaint medieval village with timbered houses and a beautiful church opposite the B&B.
Our room had some specialities from the area – missepain (almond biscuit) and chocolates. Carole was a fantastic host, serving a wonderful 4 course meal with wine. We were the only guests having dinner, and it was a wonderful experience, feeling at home in a dining room, but not having to cook or wash up! Carole also joined us when we got to dessert so we could actually chat, which was really lovely.
Apertif – chardonnay with a local chestnut liqueur
Starter – onion and tomato tart with a beetroot puree and savoury cream (ricotta like) topping
Main – loin steak of “black bottomed” pork, served with homegrown peas and carrots
Cheese – all the cheeses! We particularly liked the one with fenugreek and a very good brebis (sheep’s milk cheese).
Dessert – apple crumble with vanilla ice cream
Waddling up to our room, we got a well earned night’s rest.
Wednesday 30 May 2019
A perfect breakfast to start our day. Fresh orange juice, local pastries, charcuterie, cheeses and homemade yoghurts (fig for D, chestnut for M), washed down with several large coffees 😁. We would complete our roadtrip south today, so needed some good energy to get going!
We had found a promising spot for lunch (Google plays a prominent role in our wedding and honeymoon), as it was a restaurant with lots of parking and good reviews. With so much precious cargo – wedding dress/3 piece suit/various outfits for the wedding party and all our decor – we were particularly keen not to leave our car too far away.
Turns out Google was right though with its reviews – this random restaurant on the outskirts of Gaillac was a big hit with locals. We had to wait for a table, and there must have been a good 70 tables. However, once we got seated at Chez Fernand, we had a lovely lunch. Maddy had an endive and grapefruit salad with lots of cheese and lardons, while Declan was a little more adventurous with his salad of duck gizzards.
After lunch, we had a bit of time to kill, and knowing that Gaillac makes a lot of wine, thought we would stop off for our first tasting of the trip.
Vinovalie – the Cave de Técou – had just re-opened after lunch, so dove straight in for an introduction into Gaillac wines.
The assistant took it very seriously though, and when we said we’d like to try a selection because we didn’t know much about the wines, decided to serve us everything. Three rosés later, we asked if maybe we skip the whites and move straight to red – we did have an engagement shoot to do that afternoon!
The wines were very good though, ranging from wines we would happily drink all day (if we could!), to complex reds that would go nicely with a hearty beef steak.
Eventually we reached Aragon, another ridiculously cute medieval village perched atop a hill, and only 5km from Pennautier. We were booked to stay at La Bergerie hotel with my Dad and his family for a night, before all moving into the chateau the following day. But first, a quick turn around – change of clothes and a freshen up before heading off to yet another pretty hill top town, Montolieu, 15 minutes away, where we would do our wedding engagement shoot.
An engagement shoot two days before the wedding seems a bit odd, but it was really useful to get comfortable with the photographer and her style, and also with showing intimacy in front of the camera for all those “romantic shots”. It was a surreal, and slightly awkward, couple of hours, posing around town while all the local petanque players watched us, and with rush hour traffic peering out their car windows at us. But hopefully there will be some lovely photos out of it, and it did make us a little better in front of the camera!
The evening ended with us actually getting to see my Dad, stepmum and baby sister for dinner, where Dad had preordered Cassoulet (a local speciality) for everyone – except me – I decided it wasn’t the best idea right before the wedding! The portion that came could have easily served 8 people!
It was a lovely family evening though, spending some quality time together before the madness began!