Posts Tagged ‘Lautrec’

Tour Swag

Our friend Romaine left the UK under strict instructions “at least bring us back treasure “.

Tour fanatics [amateurs de cyclisme] in the family were jealous when they heard she’d delayed her return by a day to witness the Tour whizz through Lautrec for the second year running.

We joined the crowd in the village with minutes to spare before the “Caravan” started to arrive.

Excited cheers greeted a lone police car leisurely passing through–briefly in the spotlight.

We found our place with a good view up the approach road and held our breaths.

A couple more anticlimaxes and then the commercial carnival began.

"The Yellow Jersey" leads the way!


...Mickey mice hot on his heels.

All sorts of goodies flew through the air and were snaffled up by the waiting crowd–polka dot caps and keyrings, sweets and sausages.

Twenty minutes of wonderful madness and kids’ bags were filling up with goodies like stockings at Christmas.

“We should be over the other side where they’re stopping and handing out”

Romaine needn’t have worried…a knight in shining armour came to the rescue–more of that in a moment.

Oh yes and the Tour!–the reason we were all there.

We shot over the other side of the hill for a better view and waited.

Five helicopters flying in line announced –an “Apocalypse Now” moment–the imminent arrival of “the breakaway-group”.

We joined the children nearby waving our arms and shouting our delight.

The peloton followed–passing with a whoosh….!

It was all over and Romaine was still regretting being on the wrong side of the track!

In rides nephew Dominic–a veteran biker and experienced tour follower–with a bag of booty.

Every time he’d  waved at a float from his isolated spot–goodies fell from the sky.

Dom’s a generous heart and Romaine’s only worry now was excess baggage at check in!

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Our  houseguest, Romaine, says she has a penchant for meat these days.

So off to visit Monsieur Fraisse, our butcher in Lautrec, in search of fillet of lamb for a marinade I’ve found.

Meredith and I don’t eat meat that often. My knowledge of the finer points of French boucherie is limited.

“Filet?–ça n’existe pas!”


Monsieur Fraisse knows his meat. Like his father before him, he selects and buys locally.

M. Fraisse explains...

But our friend Romaine says she used to cook it in Cheshire, many moons ago–with Elizabeth David as a guide.

As far as she remembers the fillet was a boned loin of lamb.

It was sliced into neat nuggets she calls noisettes–a French word apparently not used in a French boucherie–at least not by Monsieur Fraisse.

The English, the French and the Americans all have their traditional ways of cutting up meat–and their own terminology.

It’s confusing, though from the way Monsieur Fraisse describes the cote de filet [chop] boned, it sounds much the same.


“when in Rome….”!

We walk out–still confused–but clutching a bag of lamb to marinade and looking forward to dinner!

Happy Roman

A tasty marinade for 

4 lamb chops or other small cuts!

A good handful of mint leaves

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 large garlic cloves–pulped with a pinch of salt

50g/2 oz anchovy fillets–pulped

Whizz the last four ingredients together in a mixer and coat the chops in it in a bowl.

Leave to marinade for a couple of hours.

Heat a griddle to hot and grill the chops for a couple of minutes both sides–the time will depend on your taste and the thickness of the chops.

Seasonal vegetables like green beans or grilled tomatoes would go well with the chops.

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Sunflowers are emerging from their tightly bunched heads and their colour yellow announces July.

Wimbledon winds up and the Tour de France  sets out, heading south towards the Tarn, our department.

‘Old Black Socks’ is no longer in the hunt.

Lance Armstrong retired after last year’s tour, this time it could be definitive….

You spotted him by his un-chic black socks and heavy pedalling, and “the focus’.

Doped or not doped [nothing proven]–he was good to watch.

They flashed through Lautrec last year– too fast to catch a glimpse of “Black socks”– buried in the pack [le peloton].

The atmosphere is festive and the anticipation intense–and it’s all over in a trice.

Meredith, miraculously,  caught the yellow jersey’d leader Andy Schleck in the centre of a frame.

They’re coming this way again on the July 13th.

Will the work on the road that bypasses Lautrec be finished? Touch and go!

They pass through the Tarn most years, heading for the Alps or the Pyrenees.

Part of charm of “le Tour” is its easy accessibilty for the public.

We milled around at “le départ” one year in Albi–rubbing shoulders with these world class athletes, about to head off for another 150 kilometres of torture in the pulverizing heat.

On the mountain climbs you fear for the riders’ safety, as the crowd closes in and the passage narrows alarmingly.

Keep back!

“Get out of the way,” I find myself shouting at the TV!

The French regard the Tour as the third greatest sporting event on the planet–after the Olympics and the soccer World Cup–and unlike them, it’s annual.

(Americans have no problem naming their national baseball final–the World Series!)

Certainly as a feat of endurance the Tour is probably without equal.

You’d have to admit that Armstrong, finally hanging up his socks at the age of 38 last year, had–excuse the pun–feet of endurance.


The television coverage of the Tour is a miracle of coordination. From on high–with helicopters–at ground level on motorbikes, the movement is constant–but at the pace of the riders. Many French people watch it as a way of getting to know their country.

Our friend Deming–an American–says she once took a holiday in a village she’d liked the look of as the Tour passed through!

Look forward to a bird’s eye view of Lautrec on the 13th!

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Meredith’s new camera has its first outing and doesn’t disappoint.

The day takes your breath away and so do the photos this camera is capable of.

The bastide village of Lautrec

"I'm here too!" Iris

proud pink tulip

Goddess watching over...

...the garden.



Meanwhile there’s a hand of pork chugging away on the stove with some green split peas for company–more of that in due course.

Enough for now to stand and wonder….

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