Sunday, April 29, 2012

Return to Fumel with a Stopover in Narbonne, France

04/28, Saturday
The TGV from Figueres to Narbonne is fast, quiet, and comfy. Only one hour. Both of us needed a little food and coffee and OJ which the train provided.

With a 3-1/2 hour layover in Narbonne, we walked 10 minutes into the old town. The canal Robine passes through the middle connecting to other waterways. Many centuries ago, Narbonne was a port on the Mediterranean, with a deep river. A flood caused it to silt-up and now it is 23km from the sea.

It has had an up and down and up, again, history. Transportation has played an important part in it's fortunes...the Roman road via Domitia which connected Italy with Spain via France, the sea, the river, the canal, and, now, the train. The old Roman road was just discovered in 1997 and a portion of it is preserved in the main square. Narbonne was once the capital of the Aude region, a position held by Marseilles today.

[Madeline's family lived in Narbonne in the 1930s. They escaped to France during the Franco dictatorship.]

And, the Catholic church was a prominent fixture with an Archbishop's Palace and Cathedral which has never been finished...but, what was finished (only the choir and one entrance) is huge and impressive. Lots and lots of large impressive stained glass.

We enjoyed Narbonne, sitting by the canal, munching on a pastry that is the town's specialty called Narbonnais. Also got one for M&J. We made a quick visit to the Cathedral. Then, caught trains to Agen and Libos where John picked us up, took us to Le Clerc for groceries and wine and Floc and Sandrine aperitif.

As a welcome home, Madeleine and John prepare a wonderful 3-course dinner, salad with warm goat cheese, pork and mushrooms with Madeleine's special sauce of prunes marinated in armangnac, and a pastry with almond filling, followed by a great orange liqueur. Politics was on the table for discussion.

Now, for a restful night in our home apartment.

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