John & Brenda's Excellent European Adventure - Part Deux travel blog

The Morning View From Our Terrace

Lynn And Brenda Concentrate

Cordes-Sur-Ciel

Uphill To The Town Centre

Typical Cordes Buildings

A Town Gate

Chateau Ruins At Penne

Another View Of The Ruins

A Picnic Above L'Aveyron Gorge

Rocky Overhang (Sheer Drop Past The Little Fence)

Cocktails On The Terrace With Rob And Yvonne

Dinner Out At Le Table des Consuls


July 27, 2011

Our Wednesday morning consisted of the 3 R’s…reading, writing and arithmetic (Glen doing his accounting) with some delicious coffee and breakfast mixed in. After I had reviewed the map of the Tarn Region, I asked Glen if they had taken the northern circle around Cordes-sur-Ciel, Penne and Gorges de L’Aveyron. It turned out that they hadn’t but had been thinking they’d like to, so we locked on that as a plan for the day.

Between Glen providing map navigation and our GPS providing computer-voiced commentary, we arrived at the famous mountaintop village of Cordes-sur-Ciel (rope to heaven?) and encountered a traffic jam with limited parking. We discovered that they were at the tail-end of a series of night markets, starting at 4:00 every afternoon. Along with our 2:30 arrival, everyone else had arrived early for the market and we were lucky to grab one of the last parking spots.

On our steep hike up the main cobble-stoned street to the central square at the summit, we encountered many sweating and wheezy walkers who apparently hadn’t trained for this type of hot afternoon activity. Somewhat smug in our senior-citizen fitness level, we continued up the route, snapping pictures of the striking architecture and fabulous views. Lynn has a penchant for pictures of old doors and she had ample subjects in this town. We arrived at the Place de les Brides with its sweeping panoramic views with just enough time to snap some photos and head back down before our parking expired.

From Cordes, our next destination was Penne, a small village with striking ruins of what must have been a fabulous chateau (castle), balanced precariously on a rocky craig. We were lucky to catch views of the ruins from a distance and didn’t need to make the climb (Cordes had filled our hiking quota for the day) but dropped into the tourist office for directions to our next stop, the Gorges de L’Aveyron.

L’Aveyron River is very popular with kayakers and canoeists and, as we drove along, we caught glimpses of them in the sun through the trees. Our instructions from Penne’s tourist office had us looking for route D115B and, just as we started to doubt them, we located said road. D115B has similarities to the “Going To the Sun” Road in Glacier National Park, albeit somewhat shorter. At one of the vista stops, we enjoyed our baguette and cheese picnic while snapping photos of the kayakers far below. The balance of the route took us along the steep cliff face through a narrow tunnel and under a massive overhang before we drove down to the valley floor along the river.

Yvonne and Rob had invited us for cocktails at 6:00 and it was now 5:00, allowing just enough time for us to get back and for me to get my makeup done. Cocktails were on their terrace with a wonderful 180° view to the northern countryside which we revelled in while we sipped bubbly and snacked on pate and bread…it was just so downright European with a Canadian flavour to the conversation.

They were going out for another dinner so we took our leave and made the short walk around the corner to the local hotel restaurant, Le Table des Consuls, for our own dinner. Dining on their covered outdoor restaurant on the square with the darkness descending and enjoying conversation with Lynn and Glen was a pleasant way to end our short three days together. To top it off, our dinner had to be one of, if not the best meals we’ve had in Europe so far (except for James’ cooking in Switzerland, of course); we dined on duck with potato/squash au gratin (me), an ocean whitefish in white sauce and vegetable lasagne square (Lynn and Brenda) and braised lamb shank (Glen).

While Lynn and Glen strategized their luggage packing to optimize their weight allowances back at the house, Brenda and I used our newly-discovered Google phone service (properly called Google Talk) to speak with Katie, Penny, Linda and our Mom, who appears to be holding her own. Although her voice is very weak, she is able to sit up and Linda said she smiled throughout our call.



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