Monday, May 7, 2012

Mountains And All That Jazz

What a day we had yesterday.  Even thought the weather forecasts contradicted one another, one with sunny and rare showers and one with rain, we decided to head south to the foothills of the Black Mountains or Le Montagne Noire – sounds far more romantic don’t you think.
I have a thing about mountains, as soon as I get close to them; my heart begins to rise, very much like mountains do.  Mountains remind me of the Highlands of Scotland or in particular Spey Valley, where as I child, I spent all my summer holidays, as it was the home of my mothers parents.  Grantown-on-Spey was the town and I LOVED it with a passion.  I also loved the Cairngorms that loomed in the distance along with the Haughs of Cromdale.  I still can’t listen to a pipe band without a lump in my throat and tears forming and for the cynics amongst you that is not because of the noise!

The cairngorms from Grantown-on-Spey

Anyway back to the Montagne Noire.  We arrived at a tiny town called Dourgne, just on the edge of the mountains.  It was such a lovely little town and the air was fresh and the sun was warm – bliss.
As we made or way into the centre of the town, where the vide grenier was being held, this sweet, sweet music began to float towards us on the mountain air.  There was a live jazz band playing.  Now I could not have asked for more, to wander a vide grenier in the sunshine, at the foot of the Montagne Noire with a Jazz Band playing and a great jazz band at that, I just knew that I would have to pay for all this bliss later!
We dragged ourselves away after a fabulous hour or two and headed north again, through Castres and up towards Realmont.  By now we were getting hungry and we found a very unassuming little restaurant on the side of the D612 just outside Vénès between Castres and Realmont.  It is run by a husband and wife team and it was fab.  Unbelievably, there were only 8 of us in there.  We took the menu de jour, and it was delicious, the service was very friendly and the price very reasonable.  Check it out if you are in the area Restaurant Le Messidor.
Restaurant Le Messidor

Wanting the day to continue forever, we headed in the direction of Gaillac, where we had seen there was another vide grenier.  On the way there we saw a small village called Montdragon and just had to do a small detour to take a look.  Who could resist with a name like that.  What a beautiful and peaceful place.  In the square at the top was a gorgeous chambre d’hotes, and looking at the sign, it was run by some of our own countrymen.  The house is draped in the most beautiful wisteria.  There were also some of the cutest cats outside.  We took a look at their website when we got back and it mentions that they are cat lovers and we are part of that club!  If it is as good as it looks on the inside as the outside, you would be in for a treat.  Their website is  

We arrived in Gaillac and found the Quai St. Jacques, which runs along the edge of the Tarn river and what a gorgeous spot for a vide Grenier.  By now it was late and a lot of people were packing up after being caught in a downpour but it was worth the trip, just to wander along in the sunshine.  Stupidly, I forgot to take a photograph of the river, possibly because I was too entranced looking at it but I did take a couple of photographs on the way down to the Quai St. Jacques.

So after a wonderful day, we decided to head home, driving up past Albi, one of my favourite French city's and back to the Aveyron.  When we got home, we unloaded our purchases from the car, with me gloating at the lovely leather handbag that I had bought myself for a song.  My husband switched the television on to find out what was happening with the French election and as for me, well remember I said that I would pay for all this bliss later?  Well I did.  I began to feel worse and worse and had to take to my bed.  However, every cloud has a silver lining and I decide to finish my book Almodis the Peaceweaver by Tracey Warr which has kept me transfixed within its pages.

I found out about the book because the author Tracey was giving a talk about her first book at the English library in Villefranche.  She is a lovely lady and her talk was interesting, informative, humorous and warm.  After her talk she did a book signing and I bought a couple of her books, one for me and another for my friend who loves historical novels as much as me. 

The book was a fabulous read and I highly recommend it to all.  What was an added bonus to me was the setting of the book in and around our area of France and Barcelona.  After reading it, I am going to go back and visit some of the places that she writes about, especially Ambialet and Moissac.  Have a great week everyone.

À Bientôt xxxxx


  1. Janette,
    What a wonderful tour you had. I do love that area of France and have to get back there soon. Did you buy lots of goodies? Sorry to hear you are not feeling well, hope you feel better soon. Yours is a wonderful part of the world. I look forward to meeting you there one of these days.

    1. We found a nice little pile of goodies but I am going to have to stop buying myself bags! That is the 3rd one in 2 weeks. I see an obsession coming on!

  2. Hello Janette:
    We have so enjoyed joining you on this wonderful tour. You really did have an event packed time and we have noted your recommendations for places to eat and to visit should we ever pass in this direction.

    It is so good when the unexpected happens on one's planned itinerary, just like your musicians, since that does make the day that bit more special.

    We have friends who have a house not too far distant from Albi so, perhaps, one day we shall be following in your footsteps!

  3. Thank you! If you do come over, please let us know. We would love to meet you.

  4. Sounds like a Wonderful day you had!! The beauty, the quaint towns, oh my....
    Mary Alice

  5. Hi Mary Alice,
    It was, I consider myself very lucky. Fingers crossed for a similar day this coming Sunday.