Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cheese Tour while Camping

Cheese is Awesome!

As we buy different cheeses at the grocery store, we notice that the labels tell us where the cheese is from.  Much like champagne from any other region than Champagne is only sparkling wine, a camembert not from the Camembert region is something different.  My favorite cheese is a cantal jeune.  So, when we went camping in the middle of France to escape the heat, it was an awesome bonus that it happened to be in the region known for cantal cheese.  

As we know the kids don't like to do anything, or at least they say this when we ask them what they want to do for the weekend adventure, we knew that whatever we picked would be unacceptable.  So, we told them that we were going to do 3 activities during the weekend (other than hang out at the campground).  These activities were cheese tour, explore a volcano, and go to a volcano amusement park.  They were not interested in any of these, as expected.  Finally we asked them to rank the one that they would dislike the least and they seemed to agree that the volcano amusement park would be that one.  More on that later.  

Saturday morning, after Dan finished his bike ride and we ate lots of pain au chocolat from the local campground store, we headed out to the cantal region.  Fortunately the display case at the camping ground check-in had a bunch of activity brochures, including a map of cheeses.  One of the cheese places was open in the morning.  

After an hour drive, we arrived at the cheese place!  It sort of looked like a factory outlet store for cheese with a fairly empty parking lot.  

Exciting Parking Lot Picture

We walked inside to find a small store with a cheese counter.  The children walked in, and immediately walked out, complaining about the smell.  We tried to convince them to come in and participate in the cheese adventure, but they did not think that was a good idea.  So, we explained, in French, to the confused people at the counter that we were American and the children thought the cheese smelled bad.  Then, we further convinced them that we were American by asking to taste a cheese that I had not seen before.  However, it was not a cheese for tasting or eating, although I was welcome to do so if I insisted.  It was a cheese that was used for cooking.  I guess kind of like a cooking wine.  You don't really taste it, you just cook with it.  So, in line with the strange reaction they had to me asking for a taste, I followed their lead and did not taste it.  

We bought three cheeses, a cantal jeune, a cantal entre-deux (aged longer), and another cheese that Dan picked.  We got about 300 grams of each cheese.  Total price, 10 euro, an amazing deal.  I guess it is cheap to buy cheese direct.  

More Cheese

Next, we followed google maps to the next place of fromage.  Unfortunately, it was the actual factory where the cheese was made, not the place they sold it.  So we continued onward and found another cheese store.  This one also had the little cheese counter with a brief assortment of cheese.  We got a cantal jeune, and a tomme gris.  It cost 3 euro.  Dan tried to pay 13 euro (trois and treize sound similar), and we laughed with the lady about how cheap cheese is here compared to the United States.


The children safely avoided the cheese by sitting by the car, across the parking lot.

Smells like Parking Lot

Next, we continued up the road.  We thought it might be time for a restroom break.  We saw on the map that we were almost to Chanterelle.  As Chateau Chanterelle is a video game level in one of the kids' Kirby Nintendo U games, we stopped.  It was a small, quiet town.  Quite unlike the video game version.  

Chanterelle - No Coins Here

Finally we stopped at a small village a bit more up the road.  There was an event where people were getting together with their classic cars to drive them around in the mountains.  We quickly got some bread and left ahead of the crowd.

As we were in a volcanic region, there were a bunch of lakes around.  We stopped at Lake Pavin.  As Alex had somehow forgotten to put shoes on before he got into the car, Dan ended up porting him around.  I don't understand how he isn't too big for this kind of thing.  But then again, I don't understand how he forgets his shoes either.

Take me to the Lake!

Lake Selfie with Will

An amazing day, with amazing cheese.

Cheese, and Bread, and Jam

And cheeseburgers...

Who put that disgusting ketchup on their perfectly good cheeseburger on baguette?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Glamping - Somewhere in Middle France


Dan says that "glamping" is a real term.  It means glamour camping.  I'm not sure about this.  In any case, it meant that we didn't have to pack our car to the brim with tents, sleeping bags, kids air mattresses, etc.  We simply brought some linens, clothes, and a little food.  We rented a cottage through the British site, instead of the French site, which meant that even though this was an activity we didn't know a lot about, we could learn about it in English and arrive without too many surprises about what we booked versus what we thought we booked.


It has been quite warm in Toulouse for the past couple of weeks.  So, for the weekend getaway, we entertained the idea of going to the beach, but ultimately decided that the beach would be hot and crowded.  Instead, we headed to the mountains.

Bridge on the way to the mountains

We told the kids that it might be a bit like camping in a water park.  Given the pictures on the web site, it seemed like there would be many Will/Alex compatible activities.  On arrival, we found some awesomeness.  

Shallow Wading Pool

Deeper Swimming Pool

The pools were great in that they were quite shaded and even had a cool extendable roof that could close them in when it rains.  The different depths of pool made it easy for the smaller kids to have a place to play and the bigger kids too.  Plus, inside, through the windows/glass that you can see, was an adults only pool, spa, and sauna area.  

There were also water slides.

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature
Will in the orange shirt

And, just in case the pool and slides weren't enough, there was another "splash pad" play area.

Waiting for the Giant Bucket Dumping

Once the kids got tired of the artificial water activities, they could head over to the beach and build a sand castle.

Now we Build!

There were also playgrounds, boating, a convenience store, and a restaurant.  Dan took the kids paddle-boating.

Alex is king of the paddle!

Will in a boat

So here in France, the food is great.  The convenience store had a bunch of local products such as cheeses, jams, wine, beer and sausage.  It also had the obligatory bakery section so that we could get a baguette or some croissants or pain au chocolat for the morning breakfast time. 

The restaurant had amazing food.  But not only did they have a wide selection of local tasty French dishes, they also had chicken nuggets and fries to pacify the children.  As we were in one of the regions known for cheese, this is my dinner.  I couldn't finish it, it was huge.  

Cheesy Tortellini and Salad

No, I promise we were camping!  Here is a picture of Alex in front of the cottage.  The cottage had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a deck.  


We even did camping-type activities such as grilling hot dogs and burgers on the bbq and toasting s'mores.  Of course, there are no graham crackers in France, but they do have fancy cookies that already have chocolate attached.  So we went with that.  Will decided that it was necessary to skewer all of the ingredients.  Alex decided that it was important to pretend that he was not enjoying himself.    

Feelings: Wonder and Sadness

Hot Coals Produced!

So when it comes to camping without a lot of planning or packing, this is the way to go.  The kids were completely exhausted at the end of the day.  Also, we successfully escaped the heat of Toulouse for a few days.  Perhaps we shall try it again!