Europe 2012: Day 42 — Rieux-Minervois, Caunes-Minervois


 

Caunes-Minervois Abbey (Languedoc-Roussillon Region, France)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woke up at 8:30am .   It is sunny and I can feel the heat rising from our rustic French paved alley.

We are still not liking the house.

Today I scrambled our four remaining eggs and toasted up the last of our bread.   Only two nights remain for us in our French village so we might as well use up the food.

Today we will do more sight-seeing.   Bridget made some recommendations so we plan to check them out.   Hanging out at the house is too uncomfortable and we have already claimed too much of Barry and Bridget’s time.   As it is, Bridget will be spending today doing our laundry – as grateful as we are, we feel bad about that.

My DH plugs in our destinations into the GPS.   In general, we are pleased at how accurate the GPS has been in getting us to and from these small French towns.   On the other hand, it sends us down winding narrow roads that feel unsafe according to our American temperaments.   Driving here has been very stressful for my DH but I have to give him a lot of credit, nothing really stops this guy!

The first stop is the town of Rieux-Minervois where we plan to view the 7-sided Roman church of St. Mary.   We arrive around noon and it is hot!   No breeze, just hot!   We walk on the shady side of the street and find the church.   It is closed for lunch.  It will not open again until 2pm.  Drat!

Our second stop is the town of Caunes-Minervois where we plan to see the marble quarry where the stone for Versailles came from.   It is unique in that the marble here comes in red, white, black, and orange – very unusual for a single quarry.   We park the car in a shady spot and we walk to the tourist office for a map.   We are told the quarry is closed and the only way to view it is a long walk around the outer rim.  My DH decides that the height of the quarry will not make for an enjoyable afternoon.  I decide that the heat of the afternoon would make it miserable.  So we tour the Abbey of Caunes-Minervois instead.

The Abbey of Caunes-Minervois is unique too.   Parts of it’s construction date back to the 8th century.   As a matter of fact, if you follow the guide, it says “Walk to the garden built in the 12th century, go up the stairs to the church which was built in the 11th century, than to the nave which was built in the 9th century, then to the crypt which was built in the 8th century” and so on.   The Roman Church is cool – literately.   We stayed there a long time.

Caunes-Minervois Abbey Courtyard ( Languedoc-Roussillon Region, France)

Around 1pm we are ready for lunch.   The tourist office recommended the town restaurant, Le Grande Fountaine, named after the fountain in the middle of the square.   We ordered salads.  Both were huge and fresh.   My DHordered a mixed salad of lettuce, cucumbers, corn, peas, and white asparagus.   I ordered a salad that I thought would be bacon and pickles – it turned out to be bacon and chicken gizzards!  So much for our French-to-English translation skills.  Good thing I like chicken gizzards.

We took a long lunch.  It was hot under the table umbrella and I relished the breezes that did come through every now and then.   We talked about what it is that we think we would find in France that we can’t find in California.  For my DH, it is the history – American is just too young for him.  As for me, I am not convinced – I think you can get bored with your surrounding and community regardless of where you live.   My DH knows Santa Clara like the back of his hand as he has lived there for 25 years.   But I like to remind my DH that we have at least47 more states in the US to explore!  He is not convinced.

La Fountaine Restaurant for lunch (Caunes-Minervois, France)

La Fountaine Restaurant for lunch (Caunes-Minervois, France)

We are both disappointed that the more small towns we visit, the more they look alike.   Also, services (like specialty stores, libraries, colleges, and tennis courts are sparse at best in these areas – that is why they seem so inexpensive to live in.  Could it be that we are just “city” people?  Could it be that we are just spoiled by the conveniences of a modern country?   I think so.

After lunch, we decide to give the church of St. Mary in  Rieux-Minervois another go.   We drive back to Rieux-Minervois and park the car in the shade.  As we walk toward the church. coming down the street there is a procession of people following a slow moving white van.   At first we think they are protesters and maybe the train system is on strike again.  But, they are silent.  On closer inspection, we see that it is a funeral – heading right for the Church of St. Mary!  When we get to the church, we peek through the open door.  A Priest is lighting a Baptismal candle.  Yep, it is a funeral.  We leave, it is just not our day for this church.

On the way back to the car, we decide that maybe today is a good day for a ride on the Canal Du Midi.   By this time it is a bit past 4pm but we decide to travel to Homps anyway to see if we can catch the 5pm boat.  We arrive in Homps, park the car in the shade, and buy our tickets for the 5pm launch.  We found a little store and buy an ice cream cone, a packet of cookies, and a big cold bottle of water.

What a good idea!   The two hour tour was relaxing and cool under the shade of all those Plain trees.   There were only about a dozen passengers so we could easily move about to see the best views of the canal, the trees, the vineyards, and the locks.  Here are some pictures:

Cool and shady trees! (Canal du Midi at Homps, France)

More trees! (Canal du Midi at Homps, France)

View of vineyards from the boat. (Canal du Midi at Homps, France)

A Roman flood gate — still in use after all these hundreds of years! (Canal du Midi at Homps, France)

When we arrived home, Bridget arrived with our laundry and we discussed the day.   Bridget said that it was so hot that my DH’s favorite flannel shirt and his heavy blue jeans only took half-an-hour to dry on the line (most French homes do not have dryers – too expensive to operate).  According to Barry, the temperature was well over 100 degrees today.

For dinner, I warmed up the remaining cassoulet for my DH.  I ate half of an orange melon we picked up at the market.

After dinner, I tried to tweek the internet connection to work on my blog thinking that maybe it is the laptop’s network configuration that is the problem.   For a while it seems to be working better, then it didn’t.

Quote of the day:   “Breeze!” – Anna as she turned up her face to every passing breeze.

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One thought on “Europe 2012: Day 42 — Rieux-Minervois, Caunes-Minervois

  1. Hopefully Barry and Bridget can visit you in CA in the future, so that you can offer them the same incredible hospitality. Remind them to bring their dirty laundry,
    bwahahahahahahahahahah!

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