We thought we allowed plenty of time to check out and get to the terminal but obviously, not enough it’s the closest I have come to actually missing a plane without actually missing it. We were relieved to be boarded and for the 1-hour flight, no sooner up then down again. Bags arrived I was a bit worried as they would have been last on which is very unusual for my bag.
After a snack of, we are not sure what … cheese something we wandered out to collect our French hire card. Spent at least an hour chatting to another Sydney couple that was returning their car after few weeks driving, she is an author of children’s books they travel 6 months of the year. Introduced us to the best tasting peaches I have ever eaten after exchanging details we headed off.
I was driving in France as at least I had driven on the wrong side of the road before. We had no trouble getting on the open road and in a few hours we were in Montauban. Took us longer to find somewhere to eat and sleep than driving down from Bordeaux eventually we settled on good old Maccas and Ibis budget motel (AKA the shearers quarters) very basic but clean and comfortable beds. Breakfast was included so tea and toast before we hit the road looking for tanneries.
The only hiccup was continuing on through roadworks (completely closed) after missing the detour sign, what is French for the detour. After realising we quickly backtracked and took the right track around the works and were on our way again. Next stop was Graulhet not much here turned out to be a goat tannery but glad we got to see this part of the country. After finding a supermarket to stock up on the flat peaches, tomatoes, ham, and baguettes. We had a snack in the cafe beside the supermarket. Should have just eaten our rolls.
Back on the road to Arnel Tannery now we were cooking with gas. This was a very old tannery but very green it was pleasing to see so many fish in the river below proof of water quality and the efforts they go to clean water before returning to the river.
An old story
TANNERY ARNAL, family-run business was created by Auguste Arnal in 1880 in Rodez on Aveyron bank. At this time, the factory processed harnessing leather for animal traction.
. The director made himself available to spend time with John and had quite good English so language no barrier. Although once they started talking leather they had a language of their own that they were both fluent in. This will become a very good contact for John and he was able to come away with lots of samples and specifications of the various leathers. It really made the day worthwhile find this place.
Not enough time to find more tanneries so headed back to Montauban via different road and the views were amazing loved all the huge tree-lined roads. They wouldn’t have survived here at home some ‘do-gooder’ would have had them chopped down in case someone crashed into one. They were enormous and right on the edge of the bitumen, the avenues went on forever and I wished I managed to get some pictures. Thought I had better not drive and take photos in the event I wound up hitting one – they certainly improved one’s concentration that is for sure.
After much circling the city centre, we managed to find the Mecure which was right where the GPS said it was, we just keep looking the wrong side of the street at the square. Settled in for the night but decided to stay at the Mercure right in the town centre. Great location and worth the bit extra money to be able to walk down to the main square, which we did for dinner at a place recommended by the hotel. The place was great our meal choices for dinner might not have been right Entrecôte (cut of steak) but it came very rare (even for me). Win some you lose some, this was a miss but I am sure we will make up for it somewhere.
Reasonably early night and decided we would have leisurely breakfast before hitting the back roads back to Bordeaux and in search of a castle or two.
The highlight of the day was coming across’s where we stopped for lunch and John bought some wine. Amazing little place perched right on top of a hill so they could see all around them. All stoned buildings, they must have brought it from miles away.
Back on the road still trying to find a castle but as it started to rain and the day was getting away we had to make do with a Chateau outside of Bordeaux, we planned to be back in Bordeaux by 5 and due to the narrow roads, rain and heavy traffic we were a little after that but just in time to get rid of the car.
Luckily I had taken photos of the pre-rental damage as attendant tried to hit us with the existing damage, backed down as soon as I go photos out on my phone. Reinforcing why I always check the car carefully before the pickup and report any pre-existing damage and take photos. We scrambled on the shuttle bus from the airport to main train station with a few minutes to spare, didn’t matter the 25 minutes trip took over an hour and we missed our train.
This was easily fixed with a visit to the ticket office and they put us on the next one leaving in 20 minutes just time to get to the right platform. A huge sigh of relief to be out of the car and relaxing on the train for the next few hours to Paris. A couple of beers and snacks from the buffet car and we settle back to enjoy the scenery and the rest. Arrive at Montparnasse station at 9pm and taxi to our hotel – a beautiful place in perfect location The Madeline Hotel will always be my go-to hotel in Paris from now on. We consumed last of baguettes ham tomato and peaches and collapsed into be exhausted… Meeting Michael and Fran first thing tomorrow