My Dad had decided that 2 nights at Chateau de la Cote was all we needed. It would enough to experience the charm of an old Chateau and that we could move to a slightly different area of Bordeaux – it was a good decision. We were leaving behind the beauty of a large rambling garden and the vast sunflower fields which we could see from the Chateau. The picture is from our window of our room and the house that you can see in the distance is the actually at the gate and is where the boys slept for the 2 nights (it is called the git in France).
We had to leave the Chateau by 11am and by around 10:45am everyone seemed ready to go. There was a lot of car trading taking place as cousins switched around. We ended up with my nephew and my two sons. We were moving to Chateau de Sanse which was only about 1 hour 15 minutes away. Check in time was only 3pm and so we had to kill some time on route. Everyone headed to do their own thing and we chose the non-motorway, non-toll route. We headed to Bergerac and then followed the famous Dordogne River.
We decided to stop and buy some things for lunch and then have lunch somewhere along the river. At one town on route we found a Casino open. No, not the type you gamble at. This is a type of small supermarket. We went in and it was so poorly stocked and the bread looked like that it had been baked last year that we did a u-turn and headed out to find a better supermarket rather. Schoolboy error! What we forgot was that in France everything is closed on Sunday. Not for religious reasons, just because the French don’t want to work on Sundays (in fact I don’t think they want to work Monday-Saturday either if they could avoid it). So after trying another 10 or so villages we realised the error of our ways. We found a spot on the side of the Dordogne river and ate some fruit, crisps and drank a beer. That was pretty much what we had available.
By this stage we reckoned we could try and check in and so headed for the Chateau. It is called Chateau de Sanse and overlooks the vineyards in the valley below. The view is beautiful. We were the first car to arrive. Shortly after we had arrived the other people started trickling in. When my brother-in-law arrived they told us that they had almost run out of fuel. What they had not realised is that everything closes down on a Sunday (including the petrol stations). While they do have a facility to self-refuel using a credit card, they only take French issued credit cards. After desperately trying numerous stations and credit cards, my brother-in-law flagged down a passing cyclist. Fortunately he speaks French so using all the French he knows he explained the problem. She said she would cycle in front on them (by this stage there were 3 of our cars driving together) to the petrol station. She did that and then she used her French credit card and they repaid her in cash. They have a video of them driving after her taken with their iPhone which I hope to link to the blog when WiFi connection is restored. It is very funny. They were relieved.
Two of my uncles managed to get lost on route as well and one arrived at about 4:15 and the other at 5:15. I was having thoughts of them also running out of fuel! Fortunately they made it. As it was Sunday, we held a Sunday worship service in their conference centre. My parents had asked me to preach and so we made it a family affair – Stephen prayer, Michael & Chloe did the readings (Psalm 127 & 128) and Helen read the passages that I needed mid-sermon. I preached on the blessing of God and particularly related it to our family. Just the fact that we are all in France to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary illustrates how blessed we are.
After the service we had dinner. The food was really excellent and the service was even better. They are very concerned that we enjoy ourselves and have a great experience. The owner/manager wants every detail just right for us and so he was concerned when one plate of food had gone back virtually untouched. He came to check whether we had not liked their food and was there anything they could do to improve. The reality was we have a few fussy eaters (and one very fussy one and that’s not me in case you’re wondering!) and the very fussy one had left it. In fact I had not planned to eat a starter (duck terrine) but when it came I tasted in and it was so good I ended up eating it all. I also had the best cheese we have had so far at the end of the meal. You really can’t go wrong with French cheese but these really were the cream of the cheese. After dinner we went for a walk down the road. It was a lovely still evening and it was a great day to finish off the day.
The service and overall experience here so far has been excellent. The only problem right now is that the WiFi is down and has not yet been restored (hence why the blog was not posted timeously). You will only get this post when the WiFi is restored ….
P, H, S, M & C