After dropping jam off at the neighbors houses and stopping at the patisserie for a croissant, we gathered our things and got in the car.
We drove past the vineyards and weeping sunflowers (not enough sun this summer), and got on the main highway that would take us to the Mediterranean.
I've had this image of me all year, lying on the Mediterranean, a cigarette in hand, feeling very French and very happy. So we decided to escape our sleepy village for a night and two days, and visit the seaside.
We made one stop for lunch at a gash station on the way. Lunch at a gas station? Cherie, we are in France, so this meant a lovely two course meal with fresh bread and sparkling water. I love the attention paid to food in this country.
Our stomachs satisfied, we continued en route, and arrived at a seaside town around two in the afternoon. After walking around to a couple of hotels, everything was booked.
My mother is very proud of the fact that she never makes reservations and that we always find something perfect. So we continued to the next town. We stopped at the tourist bureau to see what was available.
"Most things are full," sneered an unhappy looking woman behind the counter.
"Could you call a few places for us?" I asked in my best, kindest, French.
The woman did not want to call, but luckily, her younger associate said she would call a few places. She did, and, surprise surprise, everything was full.
"What about outside the town?" We asked, lovely Canadian smiles on our face.
"You'll have to call yourself," she answered.
We tried a few hotels in town anyway, and yes, everything was full. We were told we would have luck in Narbonne, the city nearby.
It was now three in the afternoon and we needed a little beach time. So we parked our car, found some cushy lounge chairs to rent, and I shimmied into my bathing suit under my dress.
For the few hours that we sat on the beach, I felt truly on vacation. Sun caressing my body, topless women all around me, men in speedos, people ordering wine from a small bar hut, and not a care in the world. This is the Mediterranean.
Eventually we had to move on and find a hotel. So we drove to Narbonne, spent a good amount of time trying to find the city center, and went hunting.
But, hotel after hotel, everything was full. From the nicest hotels to the dingiest holes, everything had reached full capacity.
With a tinge of hope left, we got in our car and headed to the next big city. We even stopped in a small town along the way, where a little hotel looked promising.
Seeing no sign to say they were full, I headed up to the front desk beaming. The place was charming, they had a restaurant, and luck could have come our way. The woman behind the counter was on the phone, so I waited.
Once off the phone, she smiled at me, and said "We're full," but she didn't leave it at that, "and people book here six months in advance," she continued, "and you can never expect to find something at this time at night. You might, if you're very lucky, get a room in the morning if someone had canceled, but even that is unlikely, you need to reserve."
We walked out of the hotel, looked at each other, and I said "I don't need a lecture, I need a bed."
The sky was getting dark and I was still in my beach clothes, sand all over my skin. With a twinkle of hope, we headed to the next city.
But when we arrived in Bezier, everything we checked was full. News was, the entire region was full. Rather than complain or cry, we laughed. We found a nice restaurant in a square lit up romantically with lights strung through trees, had a leisurely meal with wine, fish and steak, and decided we would drive home that night.
But the roads were dark and my mother was sleepy. We could not drive that night. We found a roadside hotel on the highway and crossed our fingers. Full. Then we did what any good traveler would do, we pulled back our seats, grabbed a towel and a shawl as blankets, and went to sleep. It seemed a good twenty or thirty cars around us were doing the same thing.
At three-thirty in the morning we woke up simultaneously. Already insomniacs, this was unusual for neither of us. The sky still dark, we headed into the open cafeteria at the rest stop and ordered a petit dejeuner complet. And even at this road side cafe, we were served fresh bread, fresh croissants, mini pots of jam, coffee and tea.
We laughed sleepily at the situation, and got back on the road. We drove in a dark grey sky until the sun came up. We stopped once to pee, where we had to use the squat toilets, nothing but a hole in the ground.
We arrived in our village groggy, the sun coming out, most villagers still sleeping, and our beds beckoning us.
Needless to say, we wanted adventure and we got it. With the right traveling companion, even the worst things thrown your way are manageable. Fun even.
What's even better? Next time, we're still not reserving, we're just throwing some big pillows and a sleeping bag in the trunk.