Christmas in Toulouse

Our first Christmas in Toulouse was simply an amazing experience.  To start the visit at Marc’s sister’s we had a surprise party for her, where we delivered 30 printed copies of her manuscript entitled “Violante, Marrane de Toulouse“.  Geneviève had never been able to find a publisher in France, so Marc set out to design a cover that reflected the story and the south of France, wrote a bio of his sister for the back page, and formatted the manuscript so that the “Editions Bahia Consulting” could print the book here in Victoria.  Geneviève was blown away, with tears of joy following soon after.  That first batch of books was sold within days, and Marc then helped Geneviève find a local printer, where she arranged for a second printing of 500 books.  Most of those sold within the next few months, and now Geneviève is contemplating a second historical novel …

As usual, the food and the wines (o, the wines !) were simply exquisite.  Geneviève is an amazing chef, Jacques is one of those rare wine connoisseurs who is not snobbish about it, and we are always spoiled when we go there.  We of course pay them back by cooking traditional Canadian cuisine like nachos drowning in cheese and serving Margaritas à la Marc.

Bordeaux and its wines

We took a side trip to Bordeaux and its surrounding wine region, where we visited and sampled some Chateau Margaux, Saint-Julien and other world class wines – and even splurged and brought back a couple bottles.  We also stared at cellars filled with bottles going back 150 years, and bottles that reach prices in excess of $ 10,000 !  We left those behind …

Alexou

We took Alexou (Genevieve’s youngest and Marc’s godson) to the Air Museum in Toulouse, where the highlights of the visit included a walkthrough of an Airbus cabin replica (we can’t wait to fly in one of those!) and a tour of a Concorde, retired there since 2003.  Boy, was that plane (and all its seats) narrow …

We also offered Alexou a trip to Canada when he finishes high school … and as long as he asks for it in English.  His English was pretty good then, but he has been hitting the books and practicing ever since.  We look forward to his visit 🙂

Alexou’s brother, Renaud, decided to teach Deanna how to play poker, and Renaud must be a pretty good teacher, since Deanna proceeded to clean everybody’s clock that night and was the sole survivor with all the chips at the end !

Side trips

We also spent a day in Carcassone, the largest walled city in Europe, whose construction was started by the Romans some 2,000 years ago (if you’re a fan of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, you’ll recognize the castle and some of the surrounding scenery).

After spending a wonderful Christmas evening with the whole family (Jacques’ son, Kevin, surprised us with a video montage of our wedding trip to Brazil), we took the TGV up to Luxembourg to visit some of Marc’s family.  Francine was Marc’s Mom’s cousin, and she and her husband (also named Marc) were very sweet hosts, showing us around that tiny but beautiful little country for a few days.  We then took another fast train to the Paris airport, where we unfortunately had to wait for 2 days as our flight was repeatedly cancelled and delayed.  We eventually made it home via Calgary, where we spent a very uneventful New Year’s eve at the airport hotel, waiting for yet another late connecting flight.