Sunday, September 30, 2012


Part 3 of 3

Friends, Danny and Rozan and their little children,  joined us for a while in Moissac. Colin and Colleen will be our travel companions in France for a couple of months or so. 

One day when we were all together, we were invited to a very special lunch at the home of  a French couple, Claudine and Joseph.

This has been a highlight of our visit -  the wonderful hospitality extended of our French hosts. Claudine went to great lengths to prepare for all eight of us, an exceptional, traditional meal of the region that included local wines, home made foie gras and cassoulet

The meal began with aperitifs of cassis and her own orange wine. 

Before we moved to the table, Claudine gave the three women a small gift, wrapped in coloured paper and tied with a small ribbon. It was a memento of her home town.  
We left the table with very full stomachs, and arms full too. We were sent on our way with enough cassoulet, cakes and orange wine, and fresh tomatoes and aubergine from her garden for another meal or two.

We will never forget how Claudine and Joseph opened their home to us in Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave! 

A note about restaurants in Moissac:
Joanne selected our first night to dine out in Moissac from a brochure of recommended restaurants in the Tarn et Garronne that are noted for their excellent presentation of foods of the region. L’Abbeye is in Place Roger Delthil, the square right below our apartment, only metres from the abbey. Excellent meals at reasonable prices. We returned with our friends for our last dinner out in Moissac. Patrice, proprietor and formerly a Chef in Lyon, served us personally. The service and food was memorable. The first course of my Plat du Jour - grilled gizzards of duck - was delicious beyond comparison. Only the French could come up with such a plate. 
(Sorry, no photo).
During our stay in Moissac we enjoyed at couple of simple meals at Jean Pierre’s Fromage Rit, (a play on words) cooked by his mate Julie. 

Jean Pierre, a friend of Claudine’s, ended our dinners with complimentary glasses of his personal digestive concoction. It lightened our steps for our return to the apartment.

Third restaurant of mention is the Hotel Felix. Just on the edge of the city is this place that is advertised by a French billboard that depicts a  cowboy from the wild west. No North American tourist would turn in there, but we heard this place served the best escargots and grenouille (frogs legs) in the area. 

We ate there with Danny and Rozan. Wow! What a delicious meal. And inexpensive.

Funny thing is, this is essentially a motel with a western motif. The owner drives a big old Cadillac. The rooms are little houses: replicas (French versions) of the old American ghost town, complete with teepee, which happens to be constructed of cement. Needless to say, the owner has a passion for the American wild west.

What an unlikely French restaurant. The food was so good we had to return. We took the Lucases there.

Colleen, reluctantly tried the frogs legs. She did not like them! But she was brave.

The city of AGENS is in the Aquitane, about 45 minutes west of Moissac and well worth the drive for a visit.

We came here for a day trip.

It is a medium sized, rather cosmopolitan "alive" city that has a very wide traffic-free, people friendly,  bright promenade in the centre of town. 

The sign in the picture to the right: what does it mean?

Cooling down with water jets on the promenade

MONTAUBAN, about 45 minutes east of Moissac, is one of the most important commercial, medical, and administrative centres of the Midi-Pyrénnées. The three bridges that cross the Tarn are the first sights that catch one’s attention at Montauban. 

They are stunning with their unique architecture and they are adorned with lush overflowing flower baskets. 

About 56,000 people live in Montauban.

La Place Nationale

Some historical timelines in the history of Montauban help place its role in the development of France over a period of several hundred years:

1144 - founded by the Count of Toulouse as the first new medieval town in Southwest France

1560 - surrendered to the Reformation. Catholic Church is plundered and expelled. Became a Calvinist/Protestant stronghold

1629 - Catholicism restored by the Cardinal of Richelieu in Paris

1798 - after the French Revolution, Montauban is relegated to country town status

1808 - Napoleon reinstates the city as regional capital

For more travel photography with local information visit my website.

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