Okay, so we took a BA flight from LHR to Toulouse.
The first thing you might notice about France is that they speak French. Even when you clearly have Ignorant Tourist emblazoned on your forehead. They just roll their eyes at you, managing to convey a French accent without uttering a word, and re-phrase in French.
The second thing you might notice is that it’s not England. Funny how you just cross an itsy-bitsy [unless you are swimming it] channel, et voila! Tout le monde parle Francais, et, autour de toi, tout semble different.
Once you’re away from Paris – the average tourist’s comfort zone – the names of the towns and villages become unpronounceable. Especially when the signs whizz by as you’re driving. Which reminds me. The car Avis gave us is an Opel Meriva, which I’d never heard of, mainly because it isn’t imported to Israel. Over to you, Hebrew speakers: Can you imagine an importer promoting a car model called Meriva?*
We took the A61 going south.
You know you’re in a European-Mediterranean region when…
- The farm houses have solid wood, low-tech shutters; none of your flimsy white (lace optional) things and/or heavy drapes of British homes.
- Some of said shutters are painted warm brown hues; others in a wide range of blues, greens and violet.
- The public toilets are – unless you’re very lucky – squat toilets, which I strongly feel should have been phased out at the turn of the century. That’s the 20th, not the 21st, century.
- The distances are in km, not miles (when they are displayed at all); fruit and veg are sold by the kilo, not the pound.
And so we reached the godforsaken little village of Belesta en Lauragais. Which doesn't even appear on most maps. And this is where the story of our south-of-France vacation begins. Stay tuned!
* “meriva” in Hebrew means a quarrel, a row.