14: Les Galantes Redux

Breakfast at the hotel was as strange as dinner had been the previous evening. We had to wait quite a while for our coffee and when eventually the wait-lady plunked our baguette down on the bare table (and mind you, we were seated at an outside table whose cleanliness was questionable) - we stared at each other open-mouthed and then burst out laughing. And to make things better, we still had no plates and I had to ask for them and I was treated with a "geez, aren't you just a big problem" look. But as we were leaving, the very same woman took both of our water bottles with a friendly smile and filled them with fresh, cold water. Go figure.

After a stop at the "sandwicherie" across the way to pick up lunch we rode the 5Km to Damazan where we met up with the Canal de la Garonne.

Ah, what a joy it was to ride in the shady coolness on the paved trail. A half an hour down the road we saw a cafe and decided we needed a quick cup of coffee. In 15 minutes we were back on our way pedaling along the former towpath.

We ate our sandwiches sitting on a bench at a big lock watching the traffic and checking out the moored boats. Shortly after lunch we kept our eyes peeled and found a place where we could take a break. We were both feeling the effects of a practically sleepless night - the flat bike path was feeling like an alpine peak. Werner spotted the perfect place and we headed across a bridge and spread out our towels and took a lovely hour-long nap.

Refreshed, we hit the trail again and before you knew it, it was time for liquid refreshment. As it happens, we passed by another lock and this one had a "Capitainerie" i.e. the Lockmaster's place, which was a snack shop, bar and post office all rolled into one. We drank our beers at a picnic table in the shade of a big tree and looked at the houseboats.

Before long we were on the trail again and it wasn't far to the last lock of our route. I was happy to have shared this stretch of the Canal de la Garonne with Werner but I don't need to do it again.

The last stretch of the day was the toughest - 5 treeless kilometers in the late afternoon heat. It doesn't sound like much, but it was just enough to make us sweat and pant. We were really glad to make it to our little oasis at the top of the hill in La Réole.

I had made reservations at the same B&B as Vera and I had stayed in last year. We arrived to be greeted by the entire family, who were there on vacation. We thankfully collapsed in the same lovely room with the view of the church as I'd had the year before and after a quick cleanup we put on our suits and went down to the pool where we had a refreshing swim.

After our swim we shared a glass of wine with the family and M. Binda suggested a good local restaurant for our dinner.

And oh, what a dinner it was! The inside of the restaurant was elegant but empty - nearly all of the diners were seated on the shady terrace behind the building. The ambiance and menu "spoke" to both of us and we decided to go whole hog and each ordered a menu of three courses. They were as follows:

Dinner menu me:
Verdure d'épinard en mousse, saumon cuit au sel, marinade de crudités aux herbes
Encornet farci et son Risotto fondant aux légumes du soleil, coulis poivrons
Everything with peaches

Dinner menu Werner:
Fondant de fromage frais de Brebis à la pâte d'olives, salade folle de melon et Trévise
Filet de maquereau en Escabèche, gratin de légumes
Feuilleté framboise, crème mousseline vanille, sorbet framboise

My, oh, my was it all delicious! By far the best meal of the trip. Lovingly prepared and presented and heavenly tasting. Accompanied by wines from the region (Bordeaux!!!) the meal was a special event for us.

Replete with good wine and good food, we made our way slowly back to Les Galantes, collapsed into bed and fell into deep, contented sleep.

Day 14

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