As we booked out of the Hotel in the Latin Quarter, at five o'clock in the morning, the night porter printed our account and demanded I pay fifty euros that was showing up on my account, for phone cards. I wasted fifteen minutes trying to explain that I had already paid these fifty euros. Tashie kept calling to me to walk away, but I did not want my integrity challenged in any way. In the end, I placed another fifty euros on the counter and climbed into the waiting taxi for the ride to Montparnasse Station. I have written emails and a letter to the management of the hotel, but have never recovered the money. Of course, this became a salutory lesson for me. Their bookkeeping system was problematic, as it was not the classic double entry system, and it did look, on the bill, as if the money was owed to them.
We cut our losses, then, as we did at other times, and made our way to the station. Once again, we lost time due to my over-zealous checking system. With our Eurail pass, we did not need to book again, having collected billets the day before. We travelled down to Bordeaux and on to Bergerac, where we collected our automatic hire car. Tashie spent the trip to Bordeaux alternately sobbing and laughing hysterically-she was finishing her book, "Marlie and Me." We were in a first class carriage, on the TGV, with enough empty seats to spread out, so I had lots of the story read out to me. "Listen to this..." she would say and between explosive bursts of laughter or clenched teeth she shared excerpts from the book. It is a story of a recalcitrant labrador, written by its long suffering owner.
The locals had a little fun with us as we tried to board our train at a change station on the way to Bergerac. We were directed to the front of the train then to the back of the train by bored staff spicing up their early morning. By the time we arrived back to the Second Class carriages, and the attendant wanted us to climb into a standing room only compartment, I had had enough. We were tired from our early start, and anxious about collecting our car on time and driving on French roads. Tashie says I shouted; I thought I was being emphatic, but I pulled out some little bits of Alliance and remonstrated:
J'ai achette(acute) les billets premiere classe!
To give them their due, they did look slightly abashed and waited as we once again lugged our too-full suitcases to the front of the train. There was much gritting of teeth that day. We met an interesting man who was cycling through France, who chose to stand with his bicycle in the flat space at the end of the carriage. He was a frequent visitor, from Britain, and advised us on local sights. All trains in France carry bicycles de riguer.
Of course, we missed our car by two minutes-in France offices close down for the lunch break-so we cooled our heels in a run down cafe opposite the train station, making friends of the delightful family who ran the bar cum cafe.
Finally, we collected our car and away we went, following the river and driving out into the countryside, on the final leg of a long, long day.
Tashie drove and I navigated. We were quite hungry, having only snacked throughout the day, but all the wayside cafes had finished lunches and were closed.
We arrived in Monpazier at about 3 pm, and wandered down to the square to fill in time until the house was ready. This was a distance of about 50 metres. We sat in the warm sunshine, but under an umbrella, and drank a toast to Mediaeval villages. It is a perfect little town, small as can be, but full of old homes, streets and interesting narrow byways. Dinner is served from seven pm onwards. We did not have a meal on the way, just a baguette, so decided to shower, change and present ourselves to mine host. Our house had a full sized kitchen and we could cook. A bit tired after a 5 am start in the Latin Quarter.
The house is huge-the front room is the size of our whole area in Paris.
There is a leather three seater that feels just like the one at home. It is a re-modelled half timbered home, which the owners restored themselves.
The market day is Thursday. Today, Saturday, we felt enormously weary, so we have had a quiet day. Just at lunch time we borrowed Bryan's (the owner) basket, filled it with goodies from the fridge and the patisserie and took it out to the woods for a picnic lunch on a glorious day. The remainder of the day, we rested.
You could find more information about our two cottages in the south of France on the keyword frenchcottages. Also try http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9049014/Lot-River
I have boiled and eaten two eggs we bought in the square yesterday, made and drunk two cups of tea, and read some of the book, started the washing machine and Tashie sleeps on. To give you some idea of the space we have, the table could be slightly bigger than the one in our new kitchen, and the couch is the same size as our leather one. The floors are lovely tiles with rugs on them. There is cable TV and a CD player, both of which Tash has up and running.
The kitchen has as much space as the table would cover again. Upstairs, there are three double bedrooms, three fullsize bathrooms, one with a spa bath, and up in the attic, there are three single beds and a clothesline storage area. Fridge, microwave, gas-stove, diswasher, tea coffee, double sink, two knifeblocks, beams on the ceilings, white rendered walls, flat heaters on the walls throughout, washing machine and dryer-a home from home.
Our little car is parked outside our door, literally two metres away; there is a boulangerie just behind it, our own supply of calories within cooee distance, and people walking up and down the street in between.
The car is a Renault Clio and was large enough to put our two huge bags into. It runs well, but Tashie said it does not have much power. I think it is a 1.6L engine. It is a silver grey colour, and we are very happy with it. I read somewhere this morning, in the information files, that the roads around here are "empty" so will have a go at driving (on the wrong side of the road). We are almost inclined to walk so as to save our parking place! The owners of the home provided us with mud maps, local tours, information about shopping, entertainment and sights further afield. They supplied a full file of information for operating the TV, hot water, internet, lighting the oven-everything we needed. Another file contained notes written by past tenants, offering a traveller's slant on local matters.
We are a bit over the "speak in French" thing. Last night we were so tired, Tashie said to the man in the pizza resturant, where the family where finishing their meal, before opening:
"Can we sit outside?"
They just looked at her so she said,
"Mum, help me!"
I did my bit (in my best English):
"Can we sit outside?" I had forgotten I was supposed to be trying to speak French.
One kind person finally replied to us in English. The family and staff eat their meal together before the evening rush starts, and we had interrupted this routine.
We sat outside and had a delightful meal, two pizzas that we shared and crepes with ice-cream.
A huge bee (wasp) came and buzzed around the foliage of the tree near us, but the lady said
"Hee iz not dangereuz."