Breakfast à la française: bread, butter, jam/marmalade. Alternatively, corn flakes or super sweet musli. The sweetness got cloying after a day or two and I really did not enjoy it. I do not understand how French people can live on this kind of diet.
On the other hand, dinners at the gîte were varied and ranged from decent to really good, and the staff were fully familiar with vegetarian diets, which was a relief.
I still remember our experience at the little restaurant in Luchon in the Pyrenees, about 2004 or so, where Eric and I were served a “vegetarian” dinner consisting of three side orders (rice, French fries and boiled potatoes) and some mixture containing little pink specks that smelled distinctly of meat. When we asked the staff about those specks, our concerns were dismissed – those were just “tout petits morceaux de porc”, nothing at all to worry about.
The packed picnic lunches consisted of bread, cheese, a salad, a fruit and a chocolate bar. All salads were drenched in a mustard vinaigrette, and after a few days we were pretty tired of it. I asked the staff to please skip the mustard for the remaining lunches. He looked most puzzled.
We stayed in gîtes
for the first few nights, and then in a Mongolian yurt that was embedded a bit incongruously in the French landscape. Interesting, spacious and convenient compared to a room in the gîte
, but somewhat less convenient in that the shower was located outside at some distance, and the toilet was an outhouse.
Outhouses are a common thing in Sweden but apparently not in France – the one outside the yurt had a printed page with explanations and instructions on the door.
A totally unexpected benefit of late-night outhouse trips was that I was reminded to go out and see the starry sky. Summer skies in Stockholm are bright to begin with, and light pollution doesn’t help. Villeplane is further south and there are no cities nearby, so the sky was darker than anything I had seen for years. So full of stars! Even the Milky Way was easy to see.
For the first time in my life I also saw fireflies. Those don’t live in Sweden. I had expected them to shine with a constant light, but to my surprise these flashed on and off.
The highlight of today’s hike was our lunch break at a shallow stream. The water wasn’t cold at all so the kids spent a long time climbing and splashing around. Eric and I contented ourselves with cooling our feet.