|The view from the chateau on Friday morning....Yssingeaux covered in snow...
Me?...moi?...let a little snow keep me from seeing my friends and enjoying a weekend at one of my favorite French country homes...mais non!!! So, in spite of the snow, I packed up my lovely little rental car and headed out in search of my friends!
|There really aren't that many cars for rent in Yssingeaux, and since there was a long weekend at school, many were booked. Luckily, I got the next-to-last available car for rent at the Citroen...
|...and, even better, it actually came equipped with snow tires!
It wasn't a short trip from my side of France to Steph and Judi's - they are near Albi/Toulouse (western France) while Yssingeaux is on the eastern side of the country - supposedly about a 4 1/2 hour drive. The route didn't contain alot of autoroutes (major highways) - mostly medium-sized roads that, of course, traversed quite a few mountains. Again, I decided not to let a little thing like driving snow and hilly, icy French roads keep me from having a good time with my friends, so I just put my little car in first gear and chugged along...
It was quite the drive - a few white-knuckle moments on some steep mountains when trucks and cars were getting stranded in the ice and snow...but, I just kept chugging along. It ended up taking me closer to 5 1/2 hours...but after the first couple, the snow died down and driving was just fine. Finally made it to La Jourdinarie, where I was greeted with big hugs, a warm fire, homemade pizza and great wine - definitely worth the journey!
This weekend respite was just what I needed...relaxing at La Jourdinarie, a renovated sheep barn nestled in the French countryside. It's a lovely place - warm, inviting, rugged stone walls, high beamed ceilings, beautiful views - and, most importantly, it's the home of great friends who are great hosts!
|Eric, Queen of the Manor (yes, I said "queen" - Eric is indeed a female cat) greeted me with her usual feline enthusiasm
On Saturday we headed into a nearby town, Castre, for the market. I love going to the markets in France - no matter what the city, it's a great mix of local food and culture!
|This is how the locals "do" wine...they bring a bottle (any size or shape will do) and get their weekly refill of wine from the market...red or white, as you please! And, it's pretty good wine!
As always, there were rows and rows of cheese - all shapes, sizes and types - cow, sheep, goat -- fresh and creamy, strong and stinky...you name it, they've got it at the market. No matter how long I'm in France, I don't think I will be able to try all the cheeses I want to taste - although, I'm doing my best to hit them all!
|The market is quite the place to seen and be seen..everybody who is anybody is out at the market on a Saturday morning!
Saturday evening I was treated to an All-American feast, prepared by my two British hosts...ribs, corn on the cob, mac & cheese, and key lime pie - how amazing...it was definitely a "stretchy pants" kind of nite!
Spent the rest of the evening enjoying the fire, watchin movies and trying to learn the finer points of rugby...not sure I have that game quite mastered yet!
Some of my favorite moments of the weekend were the mornings, sitting at the dining room table, drinking coffee (from Steph's espresso maker) and watching the birds visit the feeders that hung from the trees just outside the windows...what a great way to start the day!
On Sunday we headed into nearby Albi for the Salon des Vins du Terroir - a showcase of local food and wine. We spent several hours strolling through the show, tasting wine, cheese, charcuterie and sweets, chatting with the purveyors and picking out a few favorites to take home with us.
Sadly, Monday rolled around and it was time to pack up the rental car and head east to Yssingeaux. It had been a wonderful weekend respite at La Jourdinarie - just what I needed - rest, relaxation, great times with great friends...Quelle Bonne Weekend!