August 5-7 – Rodez

Saturday August 5th – Aschaffenburg to Rodez via Pari
Long travel day today. It involved four trains altogether with the:
First – Aschaffenburg to Frankfurt
Second – Frankfurt to Paris
Third – Paris to Brive la Galliarde
Fourth – Brive la Galliarde to Rodez

Picture of Frankfurt haufbahnhof.

We arose at 5.45am (ugghhh) to catch the short hop into Frankfurt. Elfi and Horst were so kind to get up and feed us breakfast, make our lunch and our thermos of tea and then take us to the haufbahnhof.

All went well until the second train from Frankfurt to Paris. About 15 minutes out of Mannheim (still in Germany) the train had a hissy fit and refused to go any further. We were all offloaded and put on another train back to Mannheim. Once in Mannheim we had to wait another hour for a train that was going to Paris. This delay of two hours meant that we missed our connection in Paris for Rodez. Good thing there is free internet on the trains as it gave us the ability to research the future trains that were available.

Hmm, we discovered there was a night train from Paris to Rodez leaving at 10.00pm and there were still vacancies so opted to do this. We meantime emailed Belinda and Dom to let them know and hopefully let Dom’s parents know.We were unsure if they were still on their way from Australia. It turns out they are now in Paris and at Dom’s brothers place waiting for the same train tonight.

The train to Paris absolutely flew reaching speeds of 320k/h. Never been that fast on land before. The conductor on the train also organised for us to be booked on the night train to Rodez in a sleeper. How cool is all of this. Pleased we missed the connecting train now. So it means we ended up with five trains and getting in 9 hours later. Very good result in the end. The alternative was pretty ugly.

On arrival into Paris we went and picked up our new tickets and then caught a 25 minute taxi ride over the Seine to meet up with Belinda, Dom and little Alexandre. The taxi ride took us via the Place de la Concorde, Champs d’lysee, Eiffel Tower and the very ornate bridge we cannot remember the name of. It was pretty much chaos on the streets but then again that is just Paris. How about that, having a Cook’s tour chucked in for a €15 taxi ride.


Getting all our danke’s and mercie’s mixed up big time. Not sure if the French really appreciate being spoken to in pigeon German!!! Not too sure if too many of you realize but there is still a great deal of angst regarding the war and until the next two generations pass away, this will continue. As you can imagine, those in the country areas are a lot slower to adapt to the new world.

We caught up with the guys and had a bite to eat and then caught a couple of taxis to Gard de Australitz to catch the night train down to Rodez. As you can see by the photo, the carriages are pretty much out of the ark and this was first class……. we still had to share with another two guys.

It’s always a nice feeling rocking to sleep with the movement of the train but didn’t sleep too well with strangers in the cabin. Security is quite an issue on these trains. You have a double dead bolt on your cabin door and you are advised in no uncertain terms to employ them. Dom has been robbed a few times on this train – and the sad thing is it seems the norm and has been accepted as the norm. Doesn’t say much for humanity!!!!!

Sunday August 6th – Arrival into Rodez
We didn’t sleep that well but at least we got to put our heads down. We arrived in Rodez at 6.30am and were met by Dom’s dad, Francois. It took two car trips to get us all to the chateau which is in a little village called Druelle about 10k from Rodez.

It is very French countryside. As we came up the hill this is what we were met by – Dom had been down playing his ancestral home. Just but a tiny home.

There is some very interesting history on the house. It use to have two turrets but during the French Revolution they dismantled a lot of the second one so they did not appear to be from the aristocrats and end up having their heads lopped off.

The stairwell to the bedrooms is in the turret. It is a quintessential French farmhouse arrangement where the kitchen is large and down stairs. Belinda is not sure just how many bedrooms there are. There are actually two families that live in the house. – generational type of thing.

This is the view from our bedroom on the second floor looking over the countryside. The farm land is now leased out to other people as the families living on the property are all very elderly.

We have been provided with a bedroom which includes its own lounge and stuffed full of antiques. Bit scared as not very comfortable about planting the butt on a Louis XIV chair and breaking it.

We all know that food is a big identifier of the French people but we became fully immersed in it today and will do for the next few days.

Lunch takes two hours and is the main meal of the day. There are a number of courses but the servings are of a sensible size. We came away from the table after two hours not feeling hungry and not stuffed to the gunnels. Belinda has said she always loses weight when she is here due to the eating style and hopes to translate that back to Australian way of living. We know we will try the same. Hope she is right about losing the weight thing as we have some warmer clothes in Hilversum that we have to pick up in a few days and we want to be able to fit into them!!!

Following lunch we then sat outside for the coffee and tea under a shady tree.

After the digestive juices did their part a trip to the local castle was in order.

Apparently the castle is now owned by a wealthy yank. Not sure how that makes the locals feel. The countryside is slightly rolling hills and we are just north of the Pyrenees. We are located in the cooler area of the mountains so their winters get cold. Heating a chateau like this would send you broke.

Monday 7th August – Rodez to St Eimien and Back
Francois and Elisabeth wanted to show us some of their magnificent countryside that they have around them. It was decided by the family that we would go for a picnic to a place called St Eimien.

Whilst having breakfast prior to leaving the chateau, the chook decided she would pop into the kitchen for her morning ritual of laying her egg. They had two chooks turn up out of the blue about two months ago who have adopted the chateau as their new home. One of them is very secretive and they are unable to locate her eggs but the other one is frightfully open about it.

Since the beginning she has made her way into the kitchen and gone into the area where the old arga probably use to be and promptly sits down, starts clucking and making her presence known and then stands up and walks out having left her deposit.

She appears to be very domesticated. Tiffany the Bernese dog is not impressed with their appearance but realizes she has nothing but to tolerate their existence.

It’s great for little Alexandre who is not quite four, to see this kind of thing. The chooks are locked in a cage at night time due to the ever presence of foxes in the area.

So after experiencing one of natures wonders we headed out for our picnic.

The area we started in was very green but the further east we went it got drier. We drove along the top of a gorge for about 20k and then descended down into the bottom where we had our picnic.

We are pretty convinced that at some point in time this would have been a route the Tour de France followed. The area we visited is very well known and is actually one of the French treasures. It being August, every Frenchman is on holiday and it was extremely busy.
We had a little wander around the township which was beautifully nestled into the bottom of the gorge.

Please don’t ask us anything about the area as we are staying with an elderly couple where there is just the smallest smattering of English from Elisabeth and nothing from Francois. The reverse is the same for us. We would google to find out more information to put in the blog but the internet is extremely limited and we do not want to impose.
The good thing about touring this area, even though there are a lot of tourists, they are French.

The temperature got to 35c at the peak today so was definitely uncomfortable for the Canadians. It was really funny as we were driving around in a modern Peugeot with Elisabeth and Francois and we identified an air-con button on the dash but it seems all elderly people world wide have this fixation of not using mod cons when they are there to make your life more comfortable. We have experienced this with many elders. Not sure if they are trying to save money for the next generation or just too scared to use it.

We then had a two hour drive back to the chateau (can’t call it a house as it just does not look like a house). As we were about two kilometres from the village Druelle we really could see the manor standing out very prominently. Felt like a right couple of noffs!!!!

We might not be back on line for a couple of days whilst we make our way back up to Hilversum on the overnight train.










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