15: Back to the Beginning

5:15 came awfully early – we both had one of those nights where we woke up practically every hour because we were paranoid about oversleeping. In spite of it all, we made it to the train station in plenty of time, taking one last short ride through the empty early morning streets in Séte.

The train to Montpellier wasn’t equipped with a real bike section, so we had to stand and steady our bikes for the 25 minute ride. In Montpellier we had ample time to find our track and grab much-needed coffee and some bread to go with the cheese and tomatoes we had bought the day before.

It seemed crazy to us that the train should cover in 4 hours the entire territory we’d taken two weeks to ride through. Every once in a while the train tracks ran parallel to the canal: I glimpsed familiar stretches through the window. And many familiar city silhouettes rolled by; the old city of Carcassonne, Toulouse, Agen, La Réole.

We arrived in Bordeaux shortly before noon and were welcomed by the 100 degree heat. Eeeeuuuuw, nasty hot! Since our room was not yet ready at the hotel, we dumped our stuff there and rode the streetcar to the center of town where we walked slowly on the shady side of the streets and spent a goodly amount of time in the blissfully air-conditioned department store Galeries Lafayette.

We rounded off the afternoon with a visit to the lovely (cool!) gothic cathedral and after that it was time to go back to the hotel and check into our room and indulge in cool showers and power naps.

At 6 it was time to make one last cruise through the shops just in case there was anything more that cried out to be taken home with us. I bought a small backpack and we both bought a couple of the kitschy plastic wine cooler sacks we’ve seen so much of over the past two weeks.

We ate dinner in the restaurant I’d had my eye on the first evening. They served local cuisine with a slightly Spanish accent. To my left was a sideboard where they had three different whole cured pork legs where they sliced off the Bayonne or Serrano ham as needed.

As an appetizer I chose pate de foie gras on toast. The foie gras was flavorful but had the toast been crispy and tender instead of tough it would have been even better.

My main course was a quarter roasted chicken (and that was one BIG chicken) accompanied by a square of stuffing tasting of gizzards and aromatic with herbs and served with a lovely au jus reduction. Yum.

Our beverage of choice was a bottle of rose de Bordeaux. Refreshing and flavourful.

Too full for dessert, I needed a digestive and asked the bartender to please help me choose an Armagnac as digestive. He poured me a very generous serving which I savored to the last drop.

Full to bursting and slightly tipsy, Vera and I walked down to the pedestrian plaza along the river and I cooled myself down a bit with a walk through the fountain that bubbles up out of the pavement.

Day 15

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