Sorry no photos today.
Left Biarritz in pouring rain this morning. For the first time since the first couple of days I allowed the GPS to take me onto the auto-route and peages (tolled motorways). Had a lot of distance to cover and didn't want to arrive in Beaulieu at midnight!
Wildlife sighting of the day was a Coypu, or large river rat. A species introducing to France from Sth America in the early 19th century for their fur. Like most introductions, they escaped and found themselves quite happy in the water ways of France. Sadly their habit of digging gigantic burrows in riverbanks causes considerable destruction. Calling them a river rat doesn't serve them well, more of a giant guinea-pig that has a tail and likes to swim. They are herbivores. The one I saw was happily grazing on the grass at the side of the road.
Only had one stop along the way and that was in Auch, which is apparently famous for it's Armignac. And also as the home town of D'Artagnan, one of the 3 muskateers. My intent was to have lunch then go to a specialist in aged Armignac as I wanted to buy 2 bottles of the 1963 vintage. Managed the lunch portion no trouble, escalopes of pork with chorizo risotto and a lovely glass of red wine. Failed to find the Armignac specialist....grrr.
So carried on to the next village Roquelaure where I was searching for the Chateau de Rieutort. Another fail! Ended up following a sign down a teeny tiny little road for about 5km until I ended up in the front courtyard of a local farm. Not to be dissuaded from my mission I asked the old man staring at me if I was lost or whether I could buy some armignac. After some trouble understanding each other he directed me around the house where I found a woman gardening who then took me into the tasting room and sure enough there were bottles for sale! Sadly, no year specific bottles. So bought a 15 year plus bottle for me, and a larger 8 year old bottle for my friends 50th wedding anniversary.
As I wandered back to the car carrying my hard earned loot I was waylaid by the old man and another younger man who asked me if I was English. I quickly corrected them and they were delighted to then spend the next 10-15 minutes discussing rugby and sheep! It seems that in France that is pretty much what New Zealand is known for. Eventually I made my excuses and headed off.
The 4 hour drive to Beaulieu was uneventful, but hooning along at 130km per hour you certainly have to have your wits about you, no time to gaze out the window at the sites. Arrived at about 7.30pm, just in time for a glass of belgium beer or two with Serge while we waited for Bea to get home from work.
So the 'Tour de France' portion of my stay is complete. From here on I'll be staying in the South of France, shuttling back and forth between here and the Cote d'Azur, staying with various friends that I have already visited. Don't worry, plenty more food to be eaten and wine to be drunk yet!