Thursday, August 25, 2011

South of France road trip

On Friday the 12th of August, the girls and I woke up really early to start our Eurotrip adventure! We took the metro to Gare de Lyon to pick up our car rental. I remembered when I went to Avignon with my family, my sister and her friend were able to get a good deal after speaking with the car rental people, so I thought I'd give it a try too. I asked if we could get an upgrade with a gps and voila! Ask and you shall receive!!! :) Not only did he hook us up with a bigger car with a gps inside, but it was even cheaper than when we first booked it by a little over $100. :D I was really happy we didn't have to also rent a gps separately to save ourselves another $50-100.

None of us girls wanted to be the first driver, but I ended up volunteering since no one else wanted to. It was my first time driving outside of the US and it was a minivan too! Oh and luckily I remembered when I was in London that I needed to renew my license!!! I almost forgot since it had expired on my birthday and I was here in Paris, so I didn't even think to renew it yet. Thankfully I was able to renew online and got a print out confirmation saying I could drive. In France, you can still drive with a US license, but in Spain I would need an international driver's license. Since I didn't have time to get one, the girls got one at home through AAA so they could drive there. When I got in the driver seat, I was so confused. Everything was different than I was used to. It was kind of funny..there were like literally 5 guys that were in the parking lot trying to show us how to operate the vehicle. After my quick tutorial, I strapped on my seatbelt and prayed to God that I wouldn't get in an accident and make it through this trip ok! It was a bit scary at first, but after awhile I got pretty used to driving the car and became the usual speed demon that I am haha and then off we were to Sarlat in the South of France!

We finally reach our destination in Sarlat (Dordogne Valley) after about 5 hours of driving through the Loire Valley and Orleans. As soon as we got there, we checked into our hotel and then went to a less touristy restaurant the man at the front desk recommended. Since, Sarlat is known for their foie gras and walnuts, I tried one of their specialties on the menu that included a wide variety of everything Sarlat was known for! Had some duck confit, pate, foie gras, magret de canard, duck liver, fromage, fig jam, walnut creme brulee, and brownie with walnuts. Everything was delicious! After dinner, we walked around town at night and saw some street entertainment and did some window shopping before calling it a night.

The next day was Saturday, which is a big market day for Sarlat. The market was ALL over town. We spent the whole morning exploring and got some paella and potatoes at one of the stands and ate at a random person's doorstep stoop. When we were done, we went to go canoeing down the river. We canoed in 90 degree weather for 3 1/2 hours! It was tiring, but soooo incredibly wonderful! It was great passing by different villages of Sarlat and seeing the castles of La Roque Gageac, Castelnaud, Beynac, etc. We felt kind of gross and wanted to wash up before dinner, so we went back to the hotel and cleaned up. Since we already tried a restaurant in the town of Sarlat, we decided to go to a village and check out a restaurant there. But we needed an ice cream break before dinner and got ourselves some gelato first! Then we got back in the car and drove quickly up to see Castelnaud to take some photos and then off to Beynac. We climbed up to the top, which was a bit tiring after canoeing to get a view of the city. It was beautiful! Too bad we couldn't explore Beynac during the day too. :( Luckily we were able to get a late dinner right before the restaurant was going to stop taking orders. I again ordered a Sarlat special and ordered this salad that had all kinds of duck and walnuts. I am never this adventurous at home, but am trying my best to be more open to trying exotic foods! And for the most part, everything that I've tried I've really liked! :)

On Sunday, we woke up really early again to drive to Chateau La Roque Gageac. It was kinda rainy so we didn't even bother stepping out to explore and instead drove on past it to our next destination, San Jean de Luz. It was another 4-5 hour drive. We made a quick pit stop to eat lunch. I got some mussels and wine and ice cream of course. When we got to our hotel, we rested for a bit before heading into town. We then took a nice walk on the beach during sunset before going to dinner, where I got a seafood special of fresh tuna belly. We got some more ice cream and saw a few practice fireworks for the following day's celebration of Assumption Holiday before heading back to our hotel.

Monday morning, we got up early to head to Biarritz. Everything looked pretty much the same as I remembered from when I was last there about 7 years ago! I had such an awesome and memorable trip there with my best girlfriends! My trip to Biarritz was really brief this time since we only stopped by to have breakfast and to walk along the beach and caves. There were tons of surfers in the water and I reallllly wish we could have done surfing too, but it was kind of chilly and the location was probably more for professionals than newbies like me. Oh well next time! I wish we could have stayed there a bit longer so that I could have met up with my friend Celine who lived there, but we were off to our next stop San Sebastian.....To be continued in my next post. :)

Bonne nuit! Bisous Bisous!!!

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