Wednesday, August 15, 2012

French Road Trip

We woke early yesterday and piled in the car to seek French treasure at the Foire aux Antiquits in Barjac. This is the summer season for the biggest and best flea markets and brocantes down here in the south with Barjac and l'Isle sur la Sorgue taking top billing for fabulous finds.

We agreed on a budget and a few things we'd like to have and set out, deciding to take the long, scenic way up into the foothills of the Cevennes mountains to reach our destination. The only thing was, the winding and climbing along the scenic route didn't agree with the Littlest.
He announced, "I'm going to throw up!" as we zipped around yet another roundabout and P-Daddy lead-footed the gas, shifting like a Grand Prix driver to tackle another hill.

As in previous times, like when I got my diesel confused with my gasoline, my dogged determination of mind over matter made me reply to this straight forward warning with, 'No you're not. You'll be fine.'

Until he wasn't. And the big kids started howling and we were all in a real, fine mess.

P-Daddy whipped the car off the road and up another hill so we could survey the damages. And there were damages.

The Littlest's shorts, shirt and sandals sustained the most. His sad face a message that this time none of my mind over matter mattered at all.

We emptied everyone out and stripped him down. Of course I didn't have a change of clothes. No wipes or paper towels either. Not even a scrap of tissue could we find to dab away at the replay of his breakfast.

I used his shirt, folded over and soiled, wiping off the seats and making things bearable until we could get to a grocery store to buy the necessary supplies; bleach wipes, baby wipes, new clothes.

The Littlest sat there in nothing but his Buzz Lightyear underwear, damp seat belt stretched across his little tummy, smile and happiness restored. It was probably cooler that way.

Our first reaction was to turn back, cut our losses and head home. But after buying a brand new pair of shorts and a t-shirt, wiping down everything yucky, and dousing soiled sandals and clothes in bottled water, we thought we were tough enough to continue on. We still had a picnic to eat. And vintage glass seltzer bottles to buy. Heck, it was only 10 am.

Back on the road, we climbed and turned and stopped whenever he said he felt sick. I certainly learned that lesson. He was fine from then on, thankfully, and the subsequent quick stops never came to anything other than a  roadside wee.

It took us 30 minutes to get through Saint Ambroix, the small village just outside of our destination of Barjac. It was the perfect storm. One main street through the village, yearly village fête  celebrations and weekly market day--the French summer traffic trifecta.

We. Must. Buy. Old. Stuff.
On we went.

When we arrived in Barjac, it was midi. Lunchtime. And hot as all get out.

The vendors were enjoying lunch under any patch of shade they could find. Sitting at their antique tables, drinking wine and eating big salads of melon and cured ham, pizzas, chicken legs and sausages.

They weren't interested in helping us find old stuff on their lunch hour. So we found our own spot of shade and had our picnic of sandwiches, chips, watermelon, yogurt and sugary crusted waffles in a nearby playground. That was the highlight of the Barjac festival of antiques for us.

{Barjac, France}

We found nothing. We bought nothing. Our hearts just weren't into looking at old stuff in the baking heat of a southern French August day. And so we took some photos, bought some water and headed home.

Until...P-Daddy discovered that our homeward route was taking us conveniently close to the mothership of Côtes du Rhône wines, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. What would it add to zip by there and buy some wine?

Only 30 minutes, really? Well, we have no choice do we?

And so we drove across the Rhone, windows down, warm air humming and cicadas scratching while all three children lay splayed across each other in the backseat, mouths open in that exhausted summer sleep only kids can fall into, into the village of Châteuneuf-du-Pape.


We took some more pictures, tasted some red wine and in ten minutes flat, spent the entire amount of our vintage budget on two cases before we were back on the road, headed south on the A9 for home.

Hot, sticky, sweaty and exhausted. A road trip. Priorities highlighted.

Wine, yes. Old stuff, not so much.


  1. What a great road trip story! So many of us can relate, Aidan -especially if we have had little ones sitting in the back seat of the car at one point :-) Good times. NOT! I remember my years in Montpellier and how hot it got in August. I can still feel the heat outside I think :-) So happy you did not come home empty-handed... There is one part of the story you left out: Car cleaning. Now I KNOW that part was a lot less fun than wine tasting! :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. The poor little guy. I do have to say that he's the best one for letting things just roll off him and getting on with it. He's a great kid, that one.
      And yes, the wine was better than the clean-up. For sure.

  2. You know, I am a mountain girl, but sometimes if I don't have enough air ciculation I will occasionally get sick when my parents and M and I go for a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Also, Côtes du Rhône wines?! Particularly Châteauneuf-du-Pape?! My #1 favorite wine. Wish I could send you there, I'd PayPal you the $$, but dumb VA does not allow wine shipments to residences :(

    1. Ma Fille has been known to do the same and I think it's worse when they're all in the back seat. Plus, he was watching something on the iPad so that didnt help either. I feel for you, it's not fun to be car sick. But the Blue Ridge Parkway? Beautiful.

      If you could get wine delivered to your door I would send it in a heartbeat. Post office box? Those dang booze laws. I always feel a bit weird buying booze on a Sunday the few times I've done it for a lunch or soemthing. It's the leftover from growing up in east Texas and all those dry/wet counties.

      a xo

  3. You know, even throw-up in the back seat sounds romantic when it is in the Languedoc! Ok, well maybe not romantic, but infinitely cooler than if it happened on, oh, let's say I-75. If there is anything I've learned in the past months, it is keep calm, carry on!

    1. With kids, you really have no choice do you Liene? We do the best we can. But from now on I hope I'm a bit more prepared. I live in la-la land! Three kids later.
      aidan xo

  4. Oh, you came sooo close to the Bernard Castelain Artisan Chocolatier, near Chateauneuf de Pape. I bought a tiny box of dark chocolate pralines there last year with about 24 little morsels of chocolate and managed to stretch them out to one a day for nearly a month. Next time, a bigger box.

    1. How yummy. I know P would have loved to stop there. He's the gourmand in our family.
      I'll put it on the list of must-see places. Thanks for sharing.
      aidan x

  5. Only you could write so beautifully about such a yicky event Aidan--I am completely serious! What a fantastic post. :)

    1. Thanks Heather. It wasn't as nice as your birthday trip to l'isle sur la sorgue, and i took no photos of the antique loot, but it turned out ok in the end.

  6. Poor Littlest! That was a long sticky drive for a picnic, but I'm sure it was all worth it for the divine wine... which you probably needed pronto when you finally got home!

  7. That's my girl, blowing the antiques budget on wine. Good to see!
    I feel for you with the vomit, it's such a pain to get it out of all the nooks and crannies of the car. And there's nothing like that eau de vom-vom when you get back into a warm car. Bleugh!

  8. oh no! Between your littlest's car sickness and my pigeon poopy head, we are an icky mess, aren't we! I hope the two cases of wine made things beeettter :)

  9. Thanks for the wonderfully entertaining account of your day (I'm a recent follower of your blog).

    Ironically enough, it was in Montpelier (just this past Christmas)that I first heard/learned the French phrase "Un Pipi Rustique".

    I just love that very-useful phrase (which I learned from my partner's 84 year-old great aunt).


    David Terry

  10. My littlest threw up once in the car. I couldn't handle it. Someone else had to clean it up. I could handle practically severed fingers, 12 broken bones, crushed toes and profuse bleeding…but not vomit. Never. I would have had to take the train home. I am all admiration.


It makes my day to read your comments. They're an answer to my floating words in blogland.