Thursday, 7 July 2016

France Day Quarte: Le chien is le cutie

Bonjour! I've just returned from a vacation in France and now for the travel diary because my memory is terrible so I need to recap it all. This was a family vacation to catch the Euro Cup courtesy of my aunt and uncle, without them, this trip wouldn't have happened.

France Day Quarte
My aunt loves to wander around antique flea markets and she's gotten me some pretty amazing pieces of jewellery from the various markets that she's been to. A visit to a Brocante (Flea  Market in French) definitely would have been awesome. Unfortunately, we weren't able to find one near us that was open and instead, we ended up back in Agen at what I think is a pretty sad flea market, where it was just a bunch of people selling really random old used stuff from their homes.

Gloomy day too :(
Nonetheless, it was an interesting thing to be wandering around and my uncle, a champion shopper purchased the teacup set below for 2 euros I think.
A spot of tea for you sir?
So we decided to cut our losses and drive to Francescas for lunch and a bit of sightseeing. The Francesca cathedral was quite a beauty. Although not as grand as others, it was very well preserved and painted with lovely bright hues on the ceiling and on the pillars. 

We wandered around a little in this picturesque little town but it was mostly closed.

Beware of tree huggers
Now for the noms! Lunch at Le Relais De La Hire was quite nice. It's a posh looking restaurant with a set lunch menu. I had cod while boo had the pigeon. The starters were foie gras and langoustine. It was a pleasant meal although I think by then I had come to find that French food tended to be quite heavy, salty and filling.

Fancy ceiling artwork

Langoustine says "what're you looking at??"
More foie gras

Cod fish with some sauteed vegetables

Pork I think
Dessert platter - mmm

Super tangy raspberry tart
After such a heavy and intense meal, we needed to get some of that food down so we drove to Condom to check out another beautiful cathedral since it was only a short distance away. The Condom Cathedral is a freaking national monument and obviously! It's beautiful and really well lit through massive windows at the top of the building. It's probably the brightest cathedral I've visited and the architecture is just mind-blowing. The attention to detail, the sculptures, everything is just incredible. And the awesome 3 musketeers and D'Artagnan statues outside are totally fun to take photos with. 

All for one and one for all. Except for this crazy chick on my arm.

The rain had kept away from the Chateau on this day so we decided to have our dinner outdoors and cook up a BBQ delight. 
Head for scale
My uncle's cousin preparing my favourite item for the night
Deep fried zucchini flowers!!!

Chef boo hard at work
Glorious feast
This BBQ proved to be truly fortuitous as the BBQ smell of the steak, pork and lamb brought an gigantic unexpected stranger to our doors - Jericho!!! (Who my uncle initially called Claude until he noticed his name on his collar).  
Hello Claude!
I was just thinking that today could do with 100% more dog. We were all gathered outside when suddenly boo said "Hey there's a huge dog outside our gate." So we opened the gate and invited him in for dinner.
He was happy to accept the invitation
Turns out Claude (Jericho) was from Beauville (4km away!) and likes to wander around. He's a huge dog and his owners are an elderly farming couple. According to the owner of the chateau, he's popped by before much to her dismay but I think we were all pretty happy. 
Make yourself at home buddy.
He even did tricks like sit and paw so that was great. We were sad to see him go when his owners picked him up, and even he didn't want to leave (probably because: see food above).

Key learnings:
  • There is a wide range of fleas markets. This blog sums it up quite well. I think Brocantes are for professional sellers while whereas Vide Greniers are for people like me who just wanna get rid of old stuff (but I'd like to think my stuff is nicer ok? Check me out on Carousell: alexwearsstuff). These are a few helpful guides should you ever be brocante hunting: here and here.
  • French cuisine is really heavy. Bring along your cholesterol and digestion meds. 
  • The pork is just amazeballs. BBQ it for delicious results and maybe you'll also bring along an unexpected guest. 
  • Every French dog should be called Claude. I love Claude. Also, if you don't want strange Asians feeding your dog now called Claude, you best leash him up. But don't, because I love Claude. 
  • Zucchini flowers done tempura style are hands-down the best tempura ever. My life is greater now that I have consumed it. Here's a recipe. Please make it and invite me round for dinner.  
What a wonderful day! Thanks for reading!    

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