Toulouse Plus 2005: Moissac

Thursday, 22 September 2005

We have made it to Moissac in good order. Nothing untoward about our flights (other than a slight delay leaving Paris for Toulouse) or baggage. Moissac looks to be a lovely town (about 12,000 people) and our hotel is quite nice. Today has been gorgeous, a perfect 3.0 on the Knowmark Weather Scale.

We’re still getting squared around and will post some photographs in the next day or two.

Friday, 23 September 2005

Today was our first full day in Moissac. And, another lovely day – rating 2.5 on our scale.

After delicious pastries and coffee for breakfast, we wandered around town orienting ourselves. Later we had a small picnic by the Canal latéral à la Garonne which runs through town parallel to the river here (le Tarn). In fact, our hotel is between the river and the canal and we cross the canal every time we walk into town.

After lunch we entertained ourselves with a leisurely drive through the countryside where we saw many apple orchards and vineyards. Most of the local vineyards grow dessert grapes – the area is known for its Chasselas grapes which are small, almost translucent, very sweet and absolutely delicious. We stopped to buy two bunches from a farm on the road.

Dinner was inexpensive but somewhat blah – cassoulet for Steve, omelette aux cêpes for Susan and some red wine (vin de table), of course.

Saturday, 24 September 2005

Today is the first of two consecutive market days in Moissac – today’s market was great. We decided to buy a few items for lunch that we could take with us on a small (1 hour+) hike on both side of le Tarn (starting and ending at our hotel). We are looking forward to tomorrow’s market, as there is supposed to be an olive guy there with a huge selection (and, we are fresh out of olives!). Lunch components consisted of wonderful cabecou, a great local bread, olives, fresh carrots and tomato, plus a nice Gaillac wine (Château la Peyre 2002).

Our hike took us east on the north shore of le Tarn, crossing to the south shore on an amazing canal bridge (le Pont-Canal de Cacor). We were in the countryside in just a few minutes. The canal bridge (see photographs below) takes the Canal latéral à la Garonne over le Tarn! We lunched at the southern side of the bridge, after walking across. Just below was a huge sunflower field that was being harvested as we walked by.

This evening we dined at Brasserie au Bureau (which is a chain), where we had pizza! Great thin crust (just like Italy), but huge toppings (just like Canada). It made for a reasonable compromise and was the best dinner we’ve had here so far. We also ordered a bottle of wine (rather than vin de table) – another Gaillac, Domaine des Terrises 2003, which was rather good.

Today’s weather: 3.0.

Sunday, 25 September 2005

Today was the second consecutive market day in Moissac. Some of the same vendors were present, but there were many different ones, including the olive guy that we had heard about (see yesterday’s entry). So at Sunday’s market we were able to stock up on olives (required lunch fare), buy some more of the wonderful local plums and prunes for snacking, get today’s lunch cheese (more cabecou!), a Côtes du Frontonnais wine (Château Montauriol 2002, which is relatively near), and a few other odds and sods. Back to ‘our’ local boulangerie for bread (ciabatta today), which was also required for lunch.

Then, another hike (much shorter than yesterday, but much steeper) to the top of the small mountain overlooking Moissac which provides some wonderful views. Unfortunately, the day had begun to turn muggy, which made the conditions for photography less than optimal. The photograph (below) shows part of Moissac looking SSE. The large building in the upper left is our hotel, which is a converted mill (parts of which date from 1474). The bridge in the upper right (over le Tarn), is le pont Napoléon, built in the early 19th century. A sudden downpour found us making a rapid descent (we did have our umbrella), taking refuge in a former Carmelite convent, where we had our lunch.

In the afternoon we made our first winery visit, driving about an hour east of Moissac to Domaine de Mazuc, which is just north of Puylaroque. We met Mme Carles, who was very nice. We spoke with her for some time and bought two bottles of their award-winning 2002 vintage (for 3,10€).

Dinner at the Brasserie au Bureau again: Steve with an omelette aux cêpes; Susan with salade aux quatres saveurs (foie gras, magret grillé, chasselas, cabecou); accompanied by a tasty Côtes du Frontannais (Le Roc 2002). The weather today was 2.0 (barely).

Monday, 26 September 2005

We enjoyed our trip in April so well that we decided that this trip should touch on it somehow. So today we drove north into the Cahors wine region and visited Domaine de la Bérangeraie once again. In April, the vines were showing only some new growth – they were quite bare. This time, things were a lot different! When we got there, Marlène (who we spent time with before) was out in the vineyard with numerous others harvesting grapes by hand. Despite that, she took time out to explain to us what was going on and even let us try it out ourselves.

After assisting (!) with the vendange, we meandered back to Moissac stopping beside the 15th century church in Brassac for our usual picnic lunch: bread, wine, olives and cabecou, the wonderful raw milk goat’s cheese which has quickly become our favourite. It was a lovely afternoon, and the countryside between the rivers Tarn and Lot is often quite beautiful.

Dinner tonight was back at the Restaurant des Récollets (where we had eaten on Thursday night), one of our best so far. We both had the 11,90€ menu starting with oeufs mimosa. Following that, Steve had tagliatelle au saumon and Susan had queue de lotte à la provençal. We both had gateau aux basques for dessert and a pichet of red house wine to drink.

Tonight, we’re packing up for tomorrow’s drive to Lodève which will be our longest day in the car – it will probably take us about 4 hours to get there, via the scenic route of course! The weather today was 2.0+.