Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Montels, France: The Real French Christmas

After saying good bye to my ride from Marseille I was met on the side of the highway by Lucille, a very happy girl and a friend of my very first Couchsurfer. She drove me to her parent's home where they were waiting with an amazing French Christmas Eve dinner. The French open their Christmas presents right on midnight, and they even had had a couple for me.

The next day Lucille drove me around to some cool places in the countryside and a château.

The Sun

After the morning tour of the countryside, Roman ruins and a château we were off to Lucille's parent's house for a massive Christmas feast with friends and family. The meal was one of the best I've had. There were 6 very different courses served formally with a break for talking and drinking nice champagne and wine between each course. The food was very unique to me and amazing... a successful French Christmas.

In the evening Lucille and I trekked to one of her best friend's places, Claire's place, for some drinks. Claire is a girl I have mixed history with, both good and bad, we were both each other's first couchsurfing experience way back in 2011 and she is the catalyst to why I have so many awesome French friends. She was back in France to spend Christmas with her family.

The next day involved another French lunch with Lucille's parents followed by dinner with Claire's family. My stomach was made to do some serious work but you can't say no to great food.

My last day with Lucille involved loading snowboards into her car and driving through snow covered roads to the Pyrenees. Her family lent me all the equpment and gear. It was time for my 2nd try at snowboarding. Ski tracks are coded with 4 colours; green, blue, red and black (easy to difficult). There were no black runs on these slopes but we rode every red track in the park... I was pretty impressed with myself.

After an awesome day of snowboarding I relocated to Claire's place. I hosted her in 2011 and 2012 so it was time for her to return the favour. Claire's family were very friendly and took good care of me.  Claire's mum's heritage is from a Galician town so we could make some conversation with my limited Spanish. I ate like a king at this place. During my stay I toured the little village of Montels, Canal du Midi and visited the stunningly beautiful medieval castle of Carcassonne... I even did some Cuban salsa.

Montels, a hunter with a shotgun



Old Friends

The Castle

After 3 nights at Claire's it was time to leave, but not before cooking pesto fettuccine for the 12th time on my trip.

Following lunch I was dropped off near Perpignan where I attempted to hitchhike to Barcelona for NYE. This was my first experience staying with a French family and my third good bye to Claire, although this time the circumstances were different making it much easier... Favour repaid!

Au Revoir
Hitchhiking didn't quite go to plan. I ended up walking 10km into the city of  Perpignan with 3 French hitchhikers. I managed to pick this up along the way.

The Pyrenees

Next stop Barcelona!

Lessons Learnt:
French families could actually kill you by stomach explosion.
Carcassonne is a must see in France.
Many friendships/relationships have an expiry date and it's not a bad thing.
Not speaking the language of the people can be difficult at times.
Hitchhiking isn't as easy as I believed... but I can still give you many tips.
Galician girls!

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