August 15, 2005

August 10 -- Domaine du Viala, Paraza France

I must say I could get used to this daily routine. Up at 8:30, a run into the village to pick up our baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolats. That is quickly followed by eating same, with a couple of cups of coffee. Then a little rest to let the food settle and the coffee to have its effect.

The most trying thing of the morning is taking a shower. The bathrooms do not have separate showers. The floors are designed to have water flow into a corner drain. The showers are all handheld so it took a while to come up with an effective strategy to keep from soaking everything in the bathroom. It went something like this;

Step 1 -- Stand in the corner and squirt yourself with the handheld shower. ALWAYS AIM THE SHOWER HEAD TOWARDS THE CORNER.

Step 2 -- Turn off the shower and soap up.

Step 3 -- Turn on the shower again and rinse.

Step 4 -- Repeat as necessary.


Today we went to a pre-roman archeological site of Oppidum d' Ensérune. To look at these ruins that date back to 600 years before Christ is truly a memorable experience. Add to it a spectacular view and what could be better. It sits atop a hill/ridge and through the centuries cisterns were added to collect water to keep the inhabitants from having to go to streams to get water. There is a very nice museum there as well.

Just below the hill it sat on was a former lake known as Lake Montady. About 750 years ago it was filled and converted to farm lands. It is circular with fields fanning out like the spokes of a wheels. In the center is a round canal that collects all of the runoff which is then channeled by a separate canal to a distant river.

We then went to the nearby village of Colombiers along the Canal du Midi and had a 2 hour lunch of salad (the French know how to make salads) pizza, and ice cream (oh yeah, 2 bottles of wine).

This evening we had the cooks again for a simple meal--a fancy salad, cassoulet, fromage, and dessert.


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