The Turleys have landed! After flying from Washington to Chicago, we flew first to Paris and then to Toulouse. We then drove to our friend’s villa outside of Condom (that’s right a town named Condom, which presumably has the lowest population of any town in France). We arrived around 6 pm and went to the Medieval Festival being held in Montreal du Gers – a truly enchanting experience with “fire spitters” and Medieval crafts in a tiny ancient town.
We started out badly. Flying coach on American was the perfect trial by ordeal. I am only six feet tall, but I had to position by knees off the sides of the seat in front of me to fit into the seat. Being wedged into these ridiculous seats at least took your mind off of the perfectly horrible dinner that followed. American has now passed over the line from a passenger airline to a cargo airline. As the latter, it was be roomy if you are a crate or critter. We then flew Air France to Toulouse, which was a completely different (and enjoyable experience).
Our home for the next week is a villa in Heux, France. Our friends own a spectacular home that overlooks the Pyrenees. Part of the home go back to the 13th Century and on the property is a Roman well. Most of the home dates back to the 17th Century as a fortified chateau (with arrow defensive slots that the kids have used to fire rubber arrows at us at dinner until we chase them away). It is surrounded by sunflower fields (in full bloom this time of year) and wine vineyards. Our room in the guest house looks out on what could easily be a Monet painting. The home has giant wood fireplaces that warm the home in the cool nights and large French doors to allow a cooling breeze during the day.
After our hosts welcomed us with local wines and a great dinner with fresh vegetables from the garden, including tomatoes that were addictive. Our host bought a Brebi petit Basque cheese from the Pyrennes that was divine. After dinner and copious amounts of wine, we took the kids to the nearby Montreal du Gers. They were enthralled (as was I) by the fire spitters who performed to the incredible drum work of two men in Medieval “fool” garb. We were the only foreigners. The whole town comes out for a wonderful meal and drinking to the sound of Medieval music. I cannot express the beauty and magic of the evening.
Today we are relaxing and the kids (and their two friends, Alexander and Jackson from Virginia) are swimming in a pool. Like the home, the pool overlooks the rolling hills of sunflowers. The adults are enjoying the local wines, which I will describe later (we are going on a wine tour with the owners of the most popular local wine).
It is only love for my hosts that prevents me to doing away with them in the Roman well and living here as long as possible before the arrival of National Gendarmerie.
Here are some photos from the festival (Courtesy of Photographer — and friend — Allison Mabe McBane):