by Michel Castro…..
At my age, almost 84 years, and with difficulty walking, I decided to join a Citroën extravaganza, as my last hurrah. Although it was expensive (3,600 euros, after a 10% discount to Citroën club members), it was well worth it. Upon learning of the trip, I put an ad in the Northwest Citroën car club magazine asking for a co-navigator. Susan Redd offered to come, and I did not ask how good she was at navigating.
I arrived in Paris on May 7 and after a night in Hotel Ibis, I joined the group for breakfast at the Cafe de Flore in the center of Paris.
The group was very diverse:
4 were from Brazil
7 were Americans, 2 were from Australia, and 2 were from Malaysia. Susan and I were the only ones speaking French. (She is a French teacher from Seattle). There were two people from the Le May Museum in the West.
4 roues sous un parapluie gave us a credit card to be used for every thing: gas, lunch, parking, museums.
The organizers were very well organized: Michelin maps with gas stations indicated, color maps, daily instructions etc. Breakfast and dinner were at the hotels where we stayed.
From Paris, we left for Vezelay. It turned out that Susan could not follow the map and we got lost when I realized we were going East instead of South. We were almost at the Belgian border when we turned around. We arrived at the first Chateau for dinner at 11 pm. Fortunately they had reserved the dinner for us: magret de canard. Needless to say, breakfast and dinner were “fantastique”, offering the many specialties of the region: Cantal cheeses, aligot, magret de canard, even the desserts and salads were first class.
The overall idea of the trip was to visit the many villages of France, known for their history and their patrimoine.
Thus, we were invited at many villages by the Mayor or his/her assistant and given a tour of the villages, their history, their past.
Most of the villages date from either the Middle Ages or from the past centuries: the 10th to the 17th.
The organizers had a spare 2CV and a mechanic on a truck that came with us.
We only needed it once, when a 2CV refused to start. The road from Vezelay took us to Charroux,
to Vaux le Vicomte, to Salers, to Tournemire, to Blesle, (ten centuries of history), to Sainte Enimie, named by a Merovegian princess cured of leper by the sources of the town, to Guilhem le Desert
(a piece of spritual retreat harked back in 804 AD by the monks, who in the 4th century lived in the deserts of Egypt where the ideals of Christian monasticism took root), to Les Baux de Provence
(premier site in Provence) in the castle they built a Santon Museum,
to Lourmarin, to Gordes surrounded by oaks, wheat fields, vineyards, lavender fields and fields of “coquelicots”,
to Tourtour (so named because one of its castle has Two towers), and finally to Cannes, where a champagne breakfast/buffet was awaiting us on the Croisette. The Red Carpet was laid out, but it was not for us, it was for Robert de Niro, the star of the Festival.
PS. A beige 2CV, which was a French 2CV and did not belong to us.