We have been to France twice, once to do the tourist trail in Paris and the other to live the chill rural life in the middle of the Pyrenees mountains. In total, we’ve spent five weeks in France and learned an incredible amount about history, farm life, and ourselves.
Paris: Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Louvre Museum, Mona Lisa, Madonna on the Rocks, Notre Dame, Arc di Triomphe, Montmartre, Sacre Couer,
Midi-Pyrenees: A stunning area of mountains, valleys, lakes and waterfalls. A birder’s paradise and a quieter, friendlier, quintessentially French area, where people greet you Bonjour and Bon Soir. And you’re transplanted back in time to a simpler and happier life.
Chateau de Foix – castle on the side of a hill dating from the Middle Ages
Lac de Bethmale – gorgeous, unadulterated lake near the town of, you guessed it, Bethmale
Pile Romaine – pillar of unknown Roman origins or purpose in the middle of a field of the small village of Luzenac
Grotte du Mas D’Azil – stunningly huge lateral hole in the earth dating from the prehistoric era, complete with cave drawings and historical detail should you choose the tour
Chateau de Mirabat – ruins from a pre-Middle Ages fort that can be reached via a deliciously strenuous and muddy incline. It also rains a lot sporadically and random logs will fall down the mountainside if a certain person of the Mark-like persuasion decides to kick them. 😉
Inside the Louvre
Ceiling art is impossible to ignore
“FFS, Henry I told you to stop with the accents already.”
Louvre at Midnight
Literally, Midnight in Paris
Underbelly of the Eiffel
Afternoon wine and cheese
For anyone that’s been to Paris, you know how large this roundabout is (8 lanes?)
Looks abandoned, but very much in use. All rails lead to Paris.
Even landlocked capitals need beaches, so Paris creates them right on the River Seine
Sacre Couer, at the hill of Montmartre in Paris which affords panoramic city views and peddlers selling Heineken.
Bus-bound for the Ariege!
Every village in France has public clean water access – because, necessities.
Even in the front of modern D&G shops
Chateau de Foix, over 1,000 years old!
Memorial to the Holocaust resistance fighters
From 1940 to 1943, thousands of French, US and British citizens escaped through the Ariege
End of our day trip to Foix
Life in the Midi-Pyrenees
Dense fog descending on our mountain day trip
Headed to Lake Bethmale!
Handstand wherever because I can!
Did anyone hear the Tale of Two Trees? No, because it split before I could tell it.
Who loves long exposures? Melody loves long exposures.
Check out these gems we found on a “let’s go hiking” whim!
Village of less than 200 people, original stonework.
Middle of the Pyrenees, Andorra bound
Mark trying to hide the fact that he’s wearing my scarf. Because it’s bone-chilling windy but he’s “not cold.”
View from our BNB in Seix (pronounced s-e-x)
Shrouded in clouds. Chilly in the morning, warm by lunch.
Underrated monument for the teacher that chose to protect the resistance fighters instead of cede to the Nazis. He was executed.
12th century church in the Ariege
The beginning of our 1100′ ascent to Chateau de Mirabat
Up and up and up!
Clouds are covering, temperature dipping…
Nearly to the top!
Standing atop the remains of Mirabat, over 500 years later
Don’t be fooled, it is bone-cutting cold up here! And a thunderstorm is rolling in.
Let’s take one last look at this sign – 1270 m.
Grotte du Mas D’Azil, as in massively huge hole in the earth
Let’s go exploring!
You can drive through or walk through Mas D’Azil
Tours are offered. You can see a good bit as a walk through if you’re short on time.
Mark found a cave he wanted to dive into, so here we go!
Thought I lost him forever until the camera flash lit up the darkness.
Couldn’t resist the waterfall.
One of the monuments that the walkers of the Freedom Trail visit, honoring the resistance fighters and escapees
What Melody does when she says she’s “studying.”
Mark’s sweet and tangy lemon cake handmade by our host and decorated with the flags of all the countries we visited.
Birthday man with his birthday cake!
Travel makes a man do crazy things, like drink red and dessert wine at the same time!
Following the path the resistance fighters took with the memorial stone in the background
Honoring the guides and the escapees
Cyclists’ families supporting them during the race
Lake Bethmale – truly that color
Autumn is here!
Peaceful, glacial Lake Bethmale
My favorite gem – a hidden waterfall
Traditional French farmhouses
Traditional French wedding attire
Clogs, traditional and wedding
The Clogmaker in action!
Headed to St. Girons for our house-sit!
Picture perfect day in the market
Fleuve Le Salat
Walking by the river in St. Girons
I think the French were a little shorter…
Grocery shopping, the French way!
An honest man’s work!
View from our house-sit!
I love the Ariege – rivers everywhere!
Freestanding Roman Column.
Can’t knock it down or build around it because, history.
Stop stringing me along!
Feeling a little peppery today, eh?
August 7 – 11: Paris, France – Louvre, Eiffel Tower (day and night), Champ de Mars, Luxemborg Park, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, Montmartre, Had to walk home at 1:30 AM 10km because metro closed earlier than we thought.
September 25 – 26: Toulouse, France – met our first friendly French person.
September 26 – Present: Seix, France – Met Peta and Keith, our new HelpX Hosts, assessed project and learned it would be much more difficult than originally anticipated, removed existing retaining wall for garden bed, sorted stones, dug foundation for new retaining wall for garden bed, sorted stones, poured foundations, sorted stones, laid part of wall, sorted stones, chipped stones, smashed stones, stones, sorted stones, laid more wall, weeded a garden bed while Peta and Keith sorted stones, laid remainder of retaining wall (phew!), dug foundations for new steps to be laid next to retaining wall, poured concrete and laid steps, had concrete that was laid around pavers ruined by HUGE hailstorm, climbed Mount Mirabat, experienced first rate doctors help with medication for less than $30 (Melody) after hike up Mirabat, sterilized a lot of pots (Melody), went to downtown Seix, visited Foix (didn’t make it to the castle sadly), observed pigeons instead of visiting castle, tended many garden beds (Melody), washed A LOT of dishes, first indoor clothes dryer of trip, celebrated birthday with wonderfully made cake made by Peta, had delicious meals prepared each lunch and dinner,
great collage of photos – beautiful country!
It has been a great time so far!