Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The beauty of France

Its hard living here. Today was yet another very hot day, well over 90 degrees so I suggested to my wife that we go for a long drive in the air conditioned car & have lunch somewhere. Good idea so she started getting ready. I had a quick look at Michelin on line & worked out a route that looked interesting & had a good looking restaurant at about the right distance away.

We left home about 10:15 & went North via Limogne to Cajarc, passing the Lot valley on the way with its beautiful scenery. We stopped in Cajarc for coffe & a look in the local Real Estate agents for houses for some friends who are looking to move to France. ( Turned out that the agent was out showing a house, but his wife was there & didn't know much about the properties for sale. So she labouriously wrote our his name, phone number & e-mail adrress & proudly handed it to my wife, She was very happy to have been able to have helped. I didn't have the heart to tell her that all of the information was on the back of her husband's flyer. You're got to love the spirit, if not the efficiency!)

On to Maures up the Cele valley, very pretty. There we turned right (East) towards Montsalvy on the D19. Empty country, but beautiful. As we gently climbed the views just got better & better. Nice small villages & hamlets with steep rooved houses with round slate tiles. Great in the summer, but probably pretty cold & isolated in the winter. Traffic? What traffic?

We reached Montsalvy about 1:15 & went into the Auberge du Fleurie. The dining room was very well set up, nicely decorated and about half full. Menus & wine list were brought & we then knew we were in for a good meal. Four courses for 28 Euros. (A bit expensive for these parts.) Linda had a langustine starter with a whole crustaton & a "tail" made of a crisp crepe stuffed with langustine & porc all on a basil sauce. Very pretty & good, but a bit too mild in flavor. I had what was billed as a gazpacho of cucumber. There was a small glass of tomato & cucumber gazpacho, but there were also two good sized portions of smoked salmon on a bed of salad with a light vinegarette & a tiny cup of melon puree. It was absolutely delicious. We both had the fillet of beef with truffle sauce. WOW! This was accompanied by a ball of mashed potatoes with a thin crisp slice of ham moulded to the top, the whole had been fried lightly in duck fat then topped by finely sliced crisp onions. A great main course. A nice cheese selection featuring local cantal & chevre & a blue veined tome. ( I got a real rise out of Madame by asking if this was where the Montsalvy cheese was made, its an artificial 'supermarket cheese which isn't veey good, I got an emphatic non! And in English "NO good!" with a dramatic thumbs down.) Linda had a dessert consisting of finely sliced fresh strawberries with creme freshe sandwitched between large rounds of very rich chocolate. I had an individual apricot claflutte.
In addition to the food the Auberge had a huge wine list with over 300 entries. Some great bottles at fair prices. What I appreciated was about 30-40 choices of half bottles. Thus we could have a split of Chablis Grand Cru & follow it with a 50cl bottle of Corbiers. All this for just under 100 Euros. Pas mal as they say.

We slowly wended our way home admiring the views as we descended to the Lot valley again, then along the Lot via Decazville, Capdenac Gare & Villefranche de Rouergue on the Averyron & home. We stopped on the way so Rupert could have a nice swim in the river which he loved.

What a nice way to spend a hot day. I do love France!

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