To Toulouse

After swinging by the famed train station so mum could admire it from a car window, we headed towards A20 which would lead us to Toulouse.

The distance between the two cities was about 290km and the journey took just under four hours.

We had a break at a service station near Masseret…

In the inside of the motorway services, we found loads of local souvenirs…

Many violet related products were sold there. Mum later regretted that she didn’t buy boiled sweets which were made from violet then. ‘It would have been fun to try them with my friends when I was back in Japan!’ Mum lamented.

However, we bought a box of canelé to try later at the store and moved on to have coffee and apple pie.

Coffee tastes nicer if it is made by a human behind the counter, not by a vending machine, mum and I agreed as we shared the cake.

One thing I remember very distinctly about this service station was some idiot parked his van very very close to my car and it caused a huge problem! If I weren’t this petite and flexible, it would have been impossible to climb into the seat from the co-driver’s side and therefore we would have to wait until the idiot returned to his car…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lunch over Autoroute 4

Bonjour, Reims!

We looked out of the window and found the street below us deserted as it was still early Saturday morning. Mum commented with a mug of coffee in her hands that her sleep was disturbed a little by a group of Friday night revellers who were chatting rather loudly by the fountains. Poor mum!

‘À plus tard, instead of ‘Au revoir!’

A receptionist and I exchanged as we were leaving the hotel. The reason for it was because we were returning to the same place in ten days time on our way home to the UK.

We must admit that Reims was a very pleasant city and all the local people we encountered during our stay were very friendly and amiable. Especially, I was most grateful to one madam who helped me to navigate a paying machine at the car park!

The distance between Reims and our next destination, Strasbourg, was 350km (170miles) and it was estimated to take about 4 hours to reach the city. We left the car park just before 11:00 and joined the eastbound Autoroute 4.

Around midday, a fuel gauge indicated that there was less than 1/4 of petrol left in the tank. Conveniently, a service station at Haudiomont was approaching rapidly, so I changed the lane and joined a slip road to the service.

The service station, Aire de Verdun Saint-Nicolas Sud, was surrounded with tall trees and the ground was covered with gravel except where the petrol station was. After refuelling our car, we traversed the open ground towards the building with a restaurant and a shop. During our road trip, we rarely stopped at the service stations except for refuelling and using their loo and certainly, not for food. The reason was because we would rather be eating at a proper eatery at the end of the journey than grabbing some readymade snack on a move.

‘How do you feel about having our lunch here today, mum?’

We both agreed that we were feeling already a bit peckish because our breakfast was very light. So, we climbed up the stairs and joined a small queue at the cafeteria.

Oh boy, what a gem it was! This restaurant provided us a very tasty lunch.

We bought quiche with some game meat, salad and meatballs with rice and spinach. They all appeared unassuming but oh my, they were delicious! Each dish was seasoned and cooked exquisitely, we enjoyed every morsel until the plates were all clean.

We were one of the early arrivals at the dining room, therefore, we could get a table right next to the window which was overlooking the motorway.

A vantage point!

‘Let’s press on, mum!’

Our car and we were well fuelled.
Now, Strasbourg, here we come!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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