Cheese Dreams: A Short Break in France
While in Valencia an unexpected work opportunity to meet up with a former colleague and visit a potential client at a congress in Monaco came up. The client's business area was interesting, traveling by train is always fun and the chance to connect with an old friend was irresistible. So Iain and I used our best Spanish to buy tickets for what we hoped was the correct train journey and headed along the Mediterranean coast to Nice - our base for a couple of days.
The Cote d'Azur is one of the most famous pieces of shoreline in the world. We've visited quite a few times in the past. The scenery is spectacular and it is always fun to be in the playground of the rich and famous. While Nice is not my favorite place, it is a beautiful city with impressive views but is just way too touristy for me. We dined on some fine food and Iain spent a day wandering around the pretty boulevards while I hoofed it to Monaco for my meetings.
Iain joined me the next day in Monaco and walked the streets of the Formula One track for fun while I finished up my work commitments. It's quite incredible to imagine cars speeding around this small country when you see how narrow the roads are in person.
After all the work was done, we were kindly invited to return with our friend to his home in Toulouse to experience a part of France neither of us had ever seen. As well as good company and wonderful home cooking, we got to experience the sense of community and marvelous fresh produce on offer at the local Sunday morning market. Now, lets get to the cheese. The choice was overwhelming. We enjoyed an amazing selection of soft, hard, mild, and stinky varieties from goats, sheep and cows. Aaaah fromage bliss!
We also took a trip with our friend and his family into Toulouse to wander around the old town, visit the the Basilica of Saint Serrin and stroll along the Garonne river. This was followed by a fabulous lunch at Le Bibent, a restaurant from famous French Chef Christian Constant in the Capitol square in the center of Toulouse. The city has a large population of students and was buzzing in the warmer than usual spring day with lots of locals enjoying the sunshine down by the river.
The next morning we sped back to Valencia on the TGV via Barcelona. It was a brief, but delightful visit to France and we plan to come back sometime. Just as soon as our arteries feel suitably cleared of all the delicious cheese.