Journey Through France Part 1

Last Christmas my uncle Ben bought a house in the south of France near Mirepoix, so when my mom and I were thinking of summer vacation spots, this was obviously number one on our list. We landed in Toulouse in mid-July, and let Ben be our tour guide for the next ten days. 

As we arrived the sun was setting and the clouds had cleared, which provided a perfectly clear view of the Pyrenees.

View from the second floor of Ben's house.

The town of Mirepoix

Despite feeling tired and very jet lagged, we powered through for a sunset walk in the surrounding area. While we walked Ben and my aunt Jan told us stories of the history of the area. As soon as we walked past this sign, Benny paused and noted that the path we are walking is a section of the Camino de Santiago; he occasionally runs into pilgrims on the trail during his bike rides into town.

Sign guiding the way for pilgrims

Ben and Jan

My mother paused to take in the sunset.

This marker has been here for centuries. 

The sun began to dip below the ridge.

Panorama of the sunset. Mirepoix is on the far left.

The walk was finally over and the sun had set, which allowed for a perfect chance to grab a photo of the house set against the night sky. Yeah, it's a gorgeous house...

The next morning, and for the next few days, the weather became cloudy with a light chilly rain.

This castle is across the valley from Ben's house.

The next day, we began a day trip to meet up with my cousin, Vera. The first stop was the city on the mountain side city of Rocamadour. The city is off to the left side, and the castle is sticking off at the top of the hill.

On our way down to the town, we paced this woman cycling up a very steep mountain, which reminded me again how great France is for cycling. Almost every road was smooth and well maintained, and even though most drivers sped they slowed and yielded to cyclists throughout the area.

Once we got to the top of the castle I got a view photos of the town and valley below.

A view of the castle from another walking path behind it.

After walking up and down the valley, we made a final stop for some cafe and ice cream before our final push to our bed and breakfast.

We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast that night in the area Châteauneuf-la-Forêt.

My mom's room, with a fantastic view.

That night we sat down to a 4 course homemade meal. Two retired British pilots who were taking a motorcycle trip through Europe stayed at the B&B and joined us for some wine infused conversation.

The next day we drove to meet with my cousin and her dance company Dana Lawton Dances as they were preparing to head out for their final show in France. The family who lived in the house are Americans who bought this large villa, then converted the old barn to a dance room. 

Their final show was in the small town of Treignac. We had great weather for most of the trip, but the rain was definitely chilling this day!

Every week there is a large outdoor market in Mirepoix, filled with every type of merchant and wares from locally made fondue to Italian shoes. After the market the weather started clearing up, and we sat down for a lunch of peaches and baguette, or what I like to call "the spoils of war". 

Bastille Day at Carcassonne

The Schweglers take a pause while walking throughout the castle.

To celebrate Bastille Day, paratroopers jumped from planes and landed to the surprise of visitors.

The crowds gathered for the final spectacular fireworks show! According to my uncle, this is one of the best firewords shows outside of China, and it certainly did not disappoint. 

This is video of the second half the show. Total running time was about 45 minutes of explosions!