Yes, you have read correctly: we are back in splendid Moissac for the forth time in nearly 5 months! Why? You may ask. Well, this place seems to have a hold on us like a magnet and, as motorhome stop-overs go, this one is hard to beat, having everything we need, including a choice of fishing either on the river Tarn or the Garonne canal, an easy walk into town along the canal and pretty Marina, long walks for Beano, a cycling lane that goes on for miles, a brilliant bakery/patisserie, a marvellous weekend market… I could go on and on. And all this for only €6 a day!
We arrived yesterday on a lovely sunny and warm morning and we sat outside in our t-shirts having a beer in the sun and it almost felt like summer. Strangely, it started raining in the evening and it has been showery on and off this morning, but the sun is shining again. We are going to stay here until 1st April, when we’ll be going to the campsite at Lac de l’Uby, where we have booked 2 weeks and, hopefully, I’ll go to the Spa at Barbotan-les-Thermes again for a bit of luxury, as we missed it last year due to Adonis’s illness.
We only spent the one night at Venerque (south of Toulouse), as the bells of the St Pierre and St Phebade Church didn’t stop ringing all night; in fact, they played a tune every half hour and, pretty as they were, we would rather have a whole night’s sleep than being woken up by jolly church bells at some ungodly hour. Adonis suffered more than me and didn’t sleep much and was quick to state first thing in the morning that he couldn’t possibly spend another night like that, so we never got to see the town properly and I fear we never will.
From Venerque, we went west to Samatan, where we had gone back in the summer of 2011 and we knew we liked it. This is a lovely stop by the lake for only 3.40 euros a night, with water but no electricity. We stayed 2 nights, which gave Adonis a chance to do some fishing, and I enjoyed my usual sightseeing forays in town and around the lake. This was good because last time we were here it had been too hot to do much walking and we had just stayed on the beach end of the lake to cool off and we hadn’t visited the town itself, but being much cooler now, it felt very pleasant to wander around. Again, Samatan has a very old centre with medieval half-timber houses, some of them falling apart, but not without a certain degree of charm and perfect for photographing.
Auch was our next stop, about 60km west of Toulouse, where we also stopped for 2 days, that being the weekend, to give us a chance to visit the town. Once again, it was a very warm day when we arrived on Saturday morning and after lunch we walked along the river Gers to explore this attractive town, its cathedral and to go up the Escalier Monumental or Monumental Staircase, which rises 35 metres from the river with its 374 steps, if one counts both flights of stairs, completed in 1863, 100 years before I was born! Half way up, there is a statue of D’Artagnan that had to be photographed, of course!
It was warm enough to sit outside for a drink in the square and I was mortified when I knocked my glass of beer all over Adonis’s lap when I reached forward to pay the very friendly, polite and helpful waiter, who replaced my wasted beer at no extra cost: what a nice gesture! Still clumsy after all these years: some habits die hard!
Among the joys of motorhoming, I have to include my visits to the launderette every so often and, as we were long overdue and Sunday morning woke up a bit drizzly, I thought it was the perfect time to go to the facilities near the motorhome aire, neglecting the fact that most French people choose Sunday to do the same. It was all going very well until it was time for me to put my washing in the tumble drier. There were 2 at the launderette, both in use but with only a few minutes to go each, so I waited patiently but, to my dismay, the 2 ladies who had their washing drying didn’t seem to notice that I was waiting and, when their respective driers finished, each one of them started taking their clothes out one item at a time, folding it very diligently and extremely slowly, and, eventually, carefully placing it in their bags. I was looking with horror thinking that I was going to spend the rest of the morning there until another customer, a young gentleman, saw my face, took pity on my and asked one of the ladies if she could hurry up a little bit, that there were other people waiting and that we didn’t have all day. She took offence at these comments and an argument ensued with some very colourful language being thrown in (yes, all in French) and the young gentleman repeated that is wan’t polite to make other people wait, to which she replied she didn’t know anyone was waiting (Was she blind???) and to this I had to say that I was. At this, she started rushing taking all her dry washing out, dropping socks and other items on the floor as she did, for which I felt really guilty and helped her pick some items, but deep down I was relieved she’d hurried and I was able to use drier. I thanked them both profusely, put my washing in drier and quickly went outside for a bit of fresh air and to call my son to wish him a happy 25th birthday, as I knew he was waiting for my call and had to text him previously to explain the bizarre situation. Still, the experience was good for my ‘everday’ French (swear words and all) and it made me realise that I miss my washing machine! Had it been a dry day like the day before, I would have rigged up a line between trees and hung my washing out, but it was still drizzly by the time I finally got back to the motorhome aire with my ‘dry’ laundry! And after the washing: the ironing for the first time ever in the motorhome!
On Monday morning, we drove a short distance north to Fleurance, between Auch and Agen, still on the river Gers, where Adonis did some more fishing and caught 2 roach and 1 carp! I walked uphill into the centre of town to get our daily baguette and had to try various streets to find an open bakery and, once I had descended from a different angle to which I had climbed, I found I had lost all sense of direction, not having a clue where I was and, subsequently, got desperately and hopelessly lost. I just couldn’t see a single landmark I recognised, including the huge fountain I had passed on my way up, and, since I didn’t fancy climbing up the hill again to the town square and retrace my steps, I resorted to Google Maps and even asked a couple of old gentlemen for good measure, as it all felt wrong. Needless to say, I eventually found my way back, kicking myself for returning to my ‘bad old days’ of not having any sense of direction at all. Just when I thought I was getting better (I hand’t got lost since my last episode in Givet 4 years ago this summer)! Good job I know Moissac so well now. No chance of getting lost here!!!???