Day 6 – Moissac to Albi and the most scrumptious food yet!

If you think I’ve had a wonderful + exciting time, it all pales into the background today! I still struggle to put into words the taste-bud explosion of sensations that began in Moissac and ended in Albi!

Arriving in Moissac for morning tea was amazing! The town itself was beautiful and again a place that I would love to spend more time in. Of course our first visit was to the the cloister and how inspiring was that. It was just beautiful to wander through the walkways and explore each of due rooms and their artefacts. 

Instead of having old books out on display you could view One through an interactive reading machine. Then I came across a small statue of a woman that spoke to me of meditation, contemplation and peace so of course I had to photograph it!

Then I found this tiny alcove and it became this tiny staircase that clearly led to the place where the nuns or monks would attend mass in the church. A few steps in and l started to wonder if this was such a good idea? l made it – both ways! 

After I wandered through the church a then into the town , finally netting with Italienne glacier et cafe noir alonges! 

Yes there does seem to be a pattern forming. Mind you, down in this part of France, it has been hot and sunny so some cool relief has been required. Anyway, as you do, these ladies came and sat nearby and we enjoyed a lovely conversation and then of course I had to race to the bus. That’s when it happened! I popped into this little shop and what did I find? Chocolates from Conques! 

As you know, I had been planning on popping into Conques but I have decided to stay with the tour – as I don’t want to miss a thing! Oh boy, was I excited! And yes I showed everyone on the bus! Mind you, poor David had to come and find me because I had misjudged where the bus would be! Oh well!

Then it was off to our ‘be our guest’ experience – and what a feast it was. Again our journey there included some beautiful scenery, especially the drive into the farm.

Jean-Francois was our host and chef and it was his family farm that we visited! It was beautiful – and guess what? You can stay at their B&B for only 56Euro a night! Everything we ate was so delicious a much of it was grown on the farm including the ducks, chickens and pigs? Thrown in there were some ingredients that if I had known what they were I would not have tried but they turned out to be delicious – like the duck and pork gizards salad!!! And yes I had two servings of that. The soup was magnificent and the courgettes coated in batter along with the chicken were delicious! The cheeses were beautiful too but I could not get enough of the soft cheese. The merengue island was floating on a creamy custard that complemented the plum tarte perfectly! Of course for drinks we start with a white wine cocktail to be followed with a delicious red. 

l cannot begin to tell you how fresh and flavoursome the food was. And the company of those I am travelling with has been wonderful, lots of fun and interesting conversations. Even as we climbed onto the bus it felt like the taste buds themselves were re-enacting the flavour hits of the meal. It really was incredible and Jean Francois and Olga were delightful people – warm and welcoming.

 Needless to say we all needed that sleep on the bus trip to Albi.

Of course when we arrived in Albi, David started to tell us about the Cathers and how it was because of their heretical ways that the catholic church built such a gigantic cathedral – a symbolic gesture of power. Well, it is as magnificent as it is imposing both on the landscape and inside! The photos can speak for themselves. 

One of the interesting features of the cathedral is the number of altars down each side of the church. 

Today each one is like an altar to two, three or four saints including St Rita as well as Mary and God but I imagined in the past when priests had to say mass at least once a day, they would be said here. l heard in the past that historically, alone was a time when lay people were not encouraged to receive Communion regularly and so attending mass was also about having the chance of “seeing” the body and blood of Christ. All priests, at this time were required to say mass and there were too many priests for just one altar – add to that and the old Latin mass where the priest did everything with his back to the congregation! Combine all this and it is no wonder they introduced the altar boy ringing the bell when the bread & wine were consecrated! This was the signal that let people know that their chance to see “Christ” was about to happen. Now picture this all happening at 10 different altars where priests were saying mass at staggered times. Can you get the picture that I had in my mind as I entered this cathedral? Yes I had a slightly irreverent chuckle as I imagined people scooting from one mass to the other! But also I was in awe of actually seeing a church built where possibly this was the original purpose of all the different altars.

After walking through the streets of Albi for about an hour and enjoying some very refreshing ice cream I found my way back to the hotel. 

Once refreshed I joined Shirleen down stairs for dinner in the restaurant. Well unbeknown to us we they had a wonderful chef who created the most beautiful dishes but again I’m getting ahead of myself. When we came down we decided to enjoy an aperitif before dinner and ordered a Perrine mint. We had been told it was a lovely, refreshing, non-alcoholic drink! Yeah right! Somewhere in the translation from English to French, we ended up with creme de menthe and perrier water!

My mum has always loved creme de menthe and I must say it was a most refreshing way to watch the day begin to slip away. The rivers have all become a but of a blur but I think this was the Tarn River and sitting out in the courtyard overlooking the bridges, river and city was just beautiful.

Our meal, as I mentioned was extremely delicious. For my first course I tried some froi gras which was followed by chicken and lobster! This was topped off with a chocolate cake dessert and coffee! Of course aside from everything tasting so delicious the plates were served beautifully too. I especially loved the dots on the dessert plate!

After that it was bed time. It really was an awesome day!

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