About a week after we returned from our trip to London, Gail (Jim’s mom) flew in with a friend for a week or so of British exploration, culminating with a trip to visit us (for a second time) down in Toulouse!
Since this was Gail’s second time in Toulouse (she and her friend, Carolyn had visited the previous September), she’d already explore Carcassonne and many of the churches/sights in Toulouse. As such, the main events on her agenda were a trip to Albi, making macarons with me, eating some home cooked meals, and seeing a movie with some French subtitles. We were happy to oblige.
On her first night in town, we opted for a little homecooking and introduced her to our favorite, French meal – Lapin A la Moutarde. The eating was followed by the exchange of many a London story and kicking our feet up. This relaxing continued into Friday with us heading over to the Victor Hugo market to pick up some necessities and say hello to our favorite vendors along with have a little lunch at our favorite seafood restaurant upstairs – Au Bon Graillou. After a little afternoon relaxing (and maybe a nap) we we caught dinner at a favorite American spot, Winter Garden.
On Saturday we made our way out to Albi. This was Gail’s first trip, my third, and Jim’s second. I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but Albi really is my favorite city for a quick day-trip from Toulouse. We arrived to find the city preparing for some sort of night marathon or 10k as well as preparation for Breast Cancer Awareness.
We started with a trip to the Toulouse Lautrec Museum, which I love a little more upon each visit. It was a gorgeous day, so we took in some views of the gardens (below).
Next we toured La cathédrale Sainte-Cécile, which continues to be one of my favorite cathedrals. What was interesting about this trip was how much darker it was inside. All other trips I had been there before or around noon (and in summer months, with longer days). Regardless, it was still lovely.
Following our tours, Jim found a quaint restaurant serving cassoulet (one of Gail’s requests, and a real specialty of the region) at Le Papillon. Unfortunately, Le Papillon was not serving cassoulet that evening, so we each opted for duck in other forms (confit for me, 3 ways for Jim & Gail). This was also the first time I’ve had corn on the cob anywhere in Europe. It was delicious.
We had decided we’d have a home-cooked meal again on Sunday night (Jim made an amazing pork roast), and we’d spend the day making macarons. We settled on Raspberry as well as Orange Blossom (Jim’s favorite). I served as more the instructor while Gail and Jim really put all the elements together. Gail took to it like a duck to water and these ended up being the best baked shells we’ve ever made at home (look at the rise on those babies!)! Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the completed macarons, but know they were absolutely delicious.
Jim had taken that Monday off – and we had decided we’d go see the new Tom Cruise film, American Made (it was the one we could all agree upon). I think we might’ve been the only people in the theatre, but Gail got her subtitles. All in all, it was a pretty good watch – reminded me quite a bit of Cocaine Cowboys, but more Hollywood and laughs.
Unfortunately, Gail’s trip had to be cut short, due to a French air traffic control strike, and she needed to catch a flight back to London a day early. As such, after the movie, we had lunch in the Capitole square (Our first time ever eating on the square) and Gail got her cassoulet!
It was a lovely trip, and I’m going to miss having a macaron helper this fall/winter!