Just Another Stamp in the Passport… Not!

It was all Keith’s idea. But I don’t think it became a real passion until his son suggested that “It’s a long way to go Dad, just to get another stamp in your passport.” Andorra had never been on my bucket list either, but I saw it as a nice little trade off… I wanted to visit the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse (I had read something in a brochure about their visitor center) – and, also, it was the last day of the Fête du Cassoulet in Castelnaudary – and we could stop for lunch on the way (or on the way back, or both!). So we set off early. From the F on the map below (just above and right of Carcassonne) we head (top left) to Toulouse. We stop for a toilet break in Castelnaudary, but my suggestions of an early lunch are brushed aside by Keith – saying that we still have some driving to get to the airport beyond Toulouse. So, we drive, and drive, and drive – and then we find some directions…

  • Follow Blagnac Aéroport
  • Take exit N°4 Secteur Aéroportuaire Nord
  • Follow the D902 Beauzelle – Seilh
  • Take exit N°902.3 ZAC Aéroconstellation
  • 1st junction: left
  • 2nd junction: left (follow signs for “Let’s visit Airbus”)
  • 1st road left
  • Finally…

We find it – and it’s closed! Merde! Who closes a major tourist attraction on a Sunday? Quelle crap. Keith was quite impressed too…

So we headed South again – towards Castelnaudary again and, perhaps, my long awaited Cassoulet lunch. I started to have my doubts, however, when Keith asked me, “If we follow the E9 turnoff – could we reach Andorra by sunset?”  Errr… “Yes – if we give Castelnaudary and the Cassoulet a miss.” I’m starting to detect a dietary conspiracy here, between my darling daughter and her favorite Canadian Uncle! But after the Airbus fiasco, I wasn’t going to argue – and we took the E9 turn…

South through Pamier and into the Pyrenees at Foix. Glorious views and ‘interesting’ road turns, which I enjoyed – because Keith was driving! Up through Ax-les-Thermes (see the Tour de France link below) and the into the Principality of Andorra. Absolutely glorious – I’m glad I thought of it.

PS: One last thing – Kristian – there’s a photo for you below…

A FEW BACKGROUND LINKS:

 

A Couple of Days in Spain…

Down through the Pyrenees again, along the Spanish-French border, crossing back and forth within Catalunya. Through the tiny Spanish enclave of Llivia and heading in the general direction of Perpignan and the Mediterranean coast. We’re heading for Cadaques – where Salvador Dali once made his home. Keith really enjoys mountain driving and I enjoy navigating so it was quite easy to take him off the highway at Argeles-sur-Mer and get him to follow the coast road all the way to Cadaques. Not far on a map perhaps, but quite tortuous after 5 hours in the Pyrenees. I would have said something sympathetic – but it didn’t cross my mind… I was totally enjoying the view.

 

A Second Day in Cadaques…

The streets were so narrow, driving was almost impossible. We left the car in the hotel car park and walked. And walked. It was all right for Keith – he’s got a brace on his leg – I don’t. The Dali Foundation was having an exhibition of photographs of Dali and Gala – all taken around Cadaques, PortLligat and Figueres… so we went. Not a lot of words required – the photos speak for themselves.

 

North and East Again – to Le Cap d’Agde and Sète…

We did this leg all wrong. We should have spent longer in Figueres and the Dali Museum – given Le Cap d’Agde a miss – and gone straight to Sète. As it was we arrived in Sète the day AFTER the Saint Louis’ Day festival ended… This then has meant that I’ve had to ‘borrow’ all the photos of the jousting. They’re from a couple of Regional Tourism Association sites – so I guess it’s OK. But I would have preferred to take them myself… Sète has the best Oysters and Mussels in the World…

 

Last Day in France – Sur le pont d’Avignon…

We were due to fly out from Montpelier the next morning – Keith back to Ontario, and me back to the UK for a final few days in Windsor. Neither of us had been to Avignon but, like most kids around the world, we had grown up singing that song… “Sur le pont d’Avignon, L’on y danse, l’on y danse…”

Sur le pont d’Avignon – On the bridge of Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse – We all dance there, we all dance there
Sur le pont d’Avignon – On the bridge of Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond – We all dance there in a ring

And then the Palais des Papes (The Palace of the Popes). Spectacular if you just wander around soaking up the architecture… a little unsettling when you take a detailed look at the history and what actually happened here.  Back to Montpelier and early departures…

 

Four Days in Windsor, Eton and Henley-On-Thames… Then Home.

Four days of visiting old friends and old haunts… No text needed. The Rowing Museum was new (for me) though. Then, climbed onto the jolly red rat for Singapore and home.

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More on The Third Trip – 2012…

1. Brisbane to Bordeaux
2. A Chateau somewhere
3. Together again… Aude, Pays Cathare
4. John & Keith, Unsupervised

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