So we went on a last minute holiday, entirely defined by the location of the rental holiday home we would be able to find just a few days before our departure. The requirements were simple: affordable house, no apartment or hotel and preferably not in a holiday park, and with a pool. Our initial plan was to go either to the Provence or to Italy but we ended up in a cabin in the woods, somewhere in the centre of an imaginary triangle drawn between Cahors, Toulouse and Albi. Three years ago we went on a boat trip with relatives on the Lot, which is about 50 km to the North, a few years ago to the Dordogne which is more to the West and I’d been in the region of Carcassonne a couple times before but this was unknown territory of the Languedoc, with lots of remnants of Templars and the Albigensian crusade. Our base camp was located at the outskirts of a small village near the borders of the Aveyron. Yes, we went to France, after they’d beaten us in the World Cup. Treason!

After the touristic mayhem of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Fontaine-de-Vaucluse the area seemed almost devoid of tourists. Once there were Cathars here, and boy, did we see a cats. Usually the French countryside is overrun with loose dogs, but here there were endless amounts of cats lying around. I seem to have photographed more cats than churches.

Yes, I am going to show some holiday pictures, ha ha ha ha.  Hopefully you find them interesting. Thematically arranged, not chronologically. I may have messed a few up, as I don’t always remember where I took the pictures (and will rely on Google sometimes).

Location: France. Region: the Midi-Pyrénées aka  Occitania. It is greener and more humid than the Provence We had plenty of rain and thunderstorms (in the evenings and during the night luckily). The days were hot, and the nights were cool. And, as with any damp region near a river, plenty of mosquitos. Every day we visited a couple villages, some of them part of the Bastides Albigeoises (info can be found on the www, not going to bore you with this). Very medieval, very clean, and almost devoid of tourists (hurray). Fairytale villages fit for Hobbits. The busiest places we went to were Saint-Antonin (but it was market day) and Cordes (but compared to Saint-Cirq it was nothing). Jesus was everywhere but there are also plenty of artists and artisans around, and a few art galleries and museums.

First we had to drive there, though, overcoming the following obstacles:

French traffic and the Seine (every time we go to or via Paris I try to photograph the Eiffel tower, nb)

Low tunnels

Purgatory aka French toilets (this was before I used it)

It was more modern than usual but also more disgusting than usual. It looks like some torture device.

The Ibis

Arrival time for the house was Saturday but we left on Friday, keeping the French national holiday and resulting traffic in mind. We often book at an Ibis because it is not too expensive and they’re all more or less the same so you know what to expect. The only affordable room along the way was in the Ibis Budget in Châteaudun, to the West of Orléans. There were some rooms available in the Formula1 near Orléans but after reading the reviews we changed our mind. The Ibis hotels are usually located in the local business park or similar. This one was next to the Intermarché (a large supermarket) and a couple restaurants which was convenient as we were hungry. The room was basic but ok. We’d booked breakfast as well as not to lose time in the morning,. Usually the Ibis breakfasts are acceptable, but this one stank.. The room was dirty, there was barely any bread, no yoghurt, barely any cutlery or plates, the coffee was tepid and the viennoiseries were stale. After reading some review afterwards, it seems like this is not unusual. (The receptionist had to take care of the breakfast room as well, and he couldn’t handle both jobs equally well, obviously). Plus there are always the shameless people who stack their plates with everything  in sight and then don’t eat it, like an annoying family just before us.

You have been warned.

That’s it for now.