Friday, September 14, 2012

On the road in France

The train pulled into Tours...our destination in the western part of France deep in the heart of the Loire Valley.  My nerves were a bit on edge....this would be the first time I had attempted to drive in a foreign country.  We would pick up the car here and 3 and a half weeks later...drop it off in Provence before heading to Paris.

Before returning home, I will have driven over 2200 miles through the winding back-roads of France.  The trusty GPS system will have taken us down single lane dirt roads, around tight hairpin curves in the Luberon Mountains, through picture perfect Dordogne villages, and a few super hi-way toll roads.  However I avoided the toll roads whenever possible since we wanted to experience the "real" countysides of France.

I rented a small Ford Fiesta to save some money and increase the gas mileage....the diesel fit the bill.  WOW!  My first view of the Fiesta allayed my fears of having to drive the Ford Fiestas that I remember from the 80's.  What a great little car!  And the electronic package was phenomenal.  My ipod playlists accompanied us through out the road trip thanks to the hardwire connection and complete interface of menus etc.  glowing orange on the dashboard.  I had about a 60 mile drive ahead of me before we would reach our Gite in Perusson, France near Loches.  Loaded up, nerves a bit dulled now by my thoughts of the adventure that lay ahead...I took a deep breath and headed out onto the streets.  After about 20 minutes of white knuckled, rapid eye movement from windshield to rear view mirror and back again, teeth gritting advancing though intersections wondering if I had the right of way...I became accustomed to my new world of round-abouts, kilometer to miles per hour calculations and quick translations of French to English road signs.  This was going to be fun!

The cloverleafs and exit ramps of Tours now faded into the rear view mirror and we found ourselves immersed into rolling hills of wheat fields with with scattered stone fences, family farms of off white stone cottages and barns (no wooden barns or houses like in the mid-west).  Fields of sheep dotted the hillsides as we sat quietly in the Fiesta gazing out the windows in all directions taking it all in. Before we left I set up playlists named:  Loire (often classical music to match the royal Chateaux scattered through the valley of the kings) , Dordogne (battle songs, ballads and songs of nature mirroring the battle castles of the 100 years war between France and England in the 1400's), Provence (love songs and romance that only Provencal vineyards and villages of the Luberon could match) and Paris (songs of festivals, folk, traditional French cafe music of the Latin Quarter).  Matching what I hope to see with songs to fit our time there.  These were the places where we would be spending our next 4 and half weeks.  Some songs were French, some were contemporary, some were folk and some instrumental...but above all they had to tell a story that hopefully matched our experiences.

We pulled up to the Gite in Perusson France.  Actually it was  outside Perruson about 3 miles in the middle of rolling wheat fields in every direction.  The place we were staying was an old country french farm cottage built in the 1500's called the Roseliere.  We stopped at the gate...we were there before the owner who would give us the keys upon arrival.  As we waited, we couldn't see the cottage yet...only the old stone rose covered fence/wall that separated it from the surrounding wheat fields.  I looked at Karen and said "I don't know what is on the other side of that wall but I have a feeling it will be phenomenal!



J Cosmo Newbery said...

Sounds lovely. Having Camembert with dinner tonight but not as good as being there!

shabby girl said...

Oh my gosh! I can totally worry with you about driving over there! Not that I've ever done that, but I certainly can picture it!
I love the idea that you have set this all up to your soundtrack!!!
What an icredible trip!

Dan Felstead said...

J...having camembert is almost as good as being there...I hope you had a good glass of wine with it


Dan Felstead said...

Shabbygirl...after I got used to was a great adventure. Although there was once time when I decided not to pursue the path we were on. We were headed over a mountain range to visit lavender field in Provence....met a big truck head to head on a curve...drop off no guardrail. I lost the staredown and had to back down the one and a half lane road to a turn around. White knuckled all the way. We turned back and headed to the gite for a glass of wine!