French Pyrenees – 2004

We went to visit our friends from London who had moved to the country in southwest France – it was definitely off the grid but near a lot of great places to visit. We were able to see a lot of different places while we were there over a couple of weeks and it was good that our friends daughter had been one of Alexandra’s best friends in London. We had a rough start in that our flight from DC to Heathrow was late and we missed the connecting flight to Toulouse. We landed about 10pm – the next flight options were to either wait 22 hours or drive to Gatwick and take the first flight the next morning. We chose to get a taxi over to Gatwick and get a hotel room – was pretty exhausted by the time we landed in Toulouse the next morning and then had a 2 hour drive to Mazerolles.

The trip was balanced around hanging out at their farmhouse and day trips. The first day trip was for me to ride a portion of the Tour De France – I was in a lot better shape in 2004. I rode about 50% of a stage with a Cat 1 climb – from Arreau to Col d’Aspin but decide against the next peak, Tourmalet which is the hardest climb in Pyrenees on the Tour De France. I had a decent bike but I was in running shoes and not clipped in – so a climb 50% higher and with 10% grades would have been tough. We drove over Tourmalet when we left – it would have been a struggle. And my entourage wasn’t up to wait around for me all day.

After leaving the mountains, we went to the town of Lourdes. I had no idea it was such a pilgrimage destination. Thousands of older people in wheelchairs and ambulances coming for relief.

After a couple of days at the farmhouse, we headed out on a overnight trip to Biarritz – couldn’t find any pictures but remember that the surf was awesome with large swells and a slow break. Alexandra and I had worked our way about 1/2 mile offshore where the biggest swells hit the first break – glad she was a good swimmer. I couldn’t find any pictures…below is from the internet.

Sharon and I headed to the wine region in Bordeaux while Melanie took the girls back to the farmhouse. We went to a the Rothschild Estate as well as several smaller ones near Bordeaux and then rented bikes in Saint-Émilion.

We bought 6 bottles of wine – ranging from $30-$50 – carried them around all day and back to the USA. Opened 4 of them since 2008, 2 were vinegar and 2 were ok. When I look at the current prices – they range from $30-50….so not a great long-term investment.

Our last trip before heading to Toulouse was to the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne. I had never heard of the city before and it was well-preserved.

After we left France, we flew back with London and had layover for a couple of days and went to see other friends who had moved to Oxford. Ironically, they were living in a old farmhouse too – we hadn’t been to Oxford before and it was a nice town to walk around in mid-summer.

(This was written during the Great Shutdown of 2020. My memory isn’t this good, used internet searches to fill in a lot of holes. If there’s huge fat foot below me, it not my fault – that an advertisement I can’t control).


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