Beaucoup de Kisses

Trip Start Jul 18, 2008
Trip End Aug 02, 2008

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Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Monday, July 21, 2008

Bonjour mes amis!

Our international flights were very smooth, with the most remarkable incident occurring in the Gatwick Boots Drugstore location. To kill some time, we were browsing around to see what interesting products they might have that we don't see at home. Our favorite find was a package of tablets for the relief of "trapped wind".  

Leanne's cousin JP met us at the airport in Toulouse and took us for an evening stroll in the city centre. There were outdoor cafes galore, although it took two attempts to find one where the staff could be bothered to serve us some beer. It reminded me of a book I read recently which described the popular French passtime of trying to out-snob the waiters. I must attempt to perfect this before we go to Paris! 
We spent the night at the home of JP's friend in Toulouse and then hit the road in the morning. Before heading to Rodez, we took a detour to Carcassonne to see the medieval walled city and palace. That castle must surely have been an inspiration to both Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, for I half expected Rapunzel to let down her hair from one of the high tower windows. The place was absolutely mobbed with tourists, but we managed to find a quiet cluster of cafes for lunch, where I had my first real French cassoulet - mmmm good!

After another brief stop in the town of Albi to see the impressive cathedral there, and a drive past fields of lilacs and sunflowers, we arrived in the village of Onet L'Eglise near Rodez in the early evening. JP and his wife have a lovely home here with a large patio and outdoor pool. There was a flurry of kissing as we greeted the family, including their children T (16) and E(14), as well as their nephew J. Each person is given not one, not two, but three kisses on alternating cheeks. And this whole ritual is repeated again before bed, upon waking, and basically any time someone arrives or departs to or from anywhere.

I have been practicing and learning many useful French words and phrases, such as "Je doit faire un pee pee" (guess what that means?!) and "Quel bordel!" ("what a disaster", but literally "what a bordello"). I have also learned a handy trick: if you don't know the word in French, just say the English word with a Fench accent and you'll be right half the time - c'est fantastique!

This afternoon, we will go out to the family cabin at a nearby lake, where the youngest son of the family is staying with his cousins for most of the summer. No doubt there will be a few more rounds of kissing.

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