Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Days 224 to 235: Francefest 2012 – Introduction

For the last twelve days or so, I was in France, the south of France to be precise. Or to be more precise, I was in these places: Toulouse, Carcassonne, Morlaas, Pau, Albi, Millau, Avignon, Nimes, and Montpellier.

Google Maps may be of assistance.

The reason I was in all these places was for a holiday, with a little Wonder sightseeing squeezed in. The premise had been arranged some time in advance: with a group of friends, we would have a road trip, in France, to see some Wonders and some other stuff. While I was on my Asian travels, the details of this had been honed, and the trip would be based around three candidate Wonders: Carcassonne, the Millau Viaduct, and the Papal Palace in Avignon. In addition, the timing and location was perfect to fit in a stage of the Tour de France, as well as visiting the home town of one of the group of friends, French Claire.

It was an eagerly anticipated trip. Not just by me, because the prospect of seeing any new Wonder excites me, but by the others for a variety of reasons, ranging from food to wine to modern architecture to cycling to good weather to shopping to the 212 by Azealia Banks to mangling the French language. And lots more food and wine.

The group were nine-strong. Let me introduce you to them.

Justin, also known as Green, also known as The Swish Fish

Justin’s interests include fine dining, the Tour de France, and playing FIFA 2000 on the Playstation One badly. He was the chief organiser of the trip, and produced a glossy brochure for the occasion.

Kitchen Mark used to work in a kitchen, hence his name. His interests include cooking, Newcastle Utd, and looking at organic creatures of flight. On the trip, his chief role was controlling French Claire.

French Claire is a native of France, though has lived in Aberdeen for the last decade. Her interests include shopping, photography, and smoking fags. She played a key role in the trip, as driver and translator, and it was with her family we stayed for two days.

Colin’s interests include the Tour de France, wine, and wearing hats well. He was driver of the second car and chief wine taster on the trip.

Lucy’s interests include architecture, worship of Norman Foster, and smoking fags with French Claire. She was chiefly responsible for laughing at Simon’s puns, to the dismay of all.

Simon, also known as Varwell.

I have had extensive travel experience with Simon in the past, having travelled with him for four months in 2001, mostly through Eastern Europe. Simon’s many interest include mullets, puns, Esperanto, the nomenclature of the Netherlands, travel, Scottish politics, and benchball.  His main role was to speak a version of French at French Claire’s godmother.


Nicole’s interests include German, tennis, and walking. She was mostly responsible for Simon.

Danielle has for six months refused to renege on her agreement to get married to me. Her interests include shopping, sun, and reading the first five pages of novels.  Her main duty of the trip was to eat most of the 600 snails presented to us by French Claire’s family.

Me, also known as Niall, Nev, or Jox McBolz, depending on who you speak to.

In case you’ve not seen the rest of this blog, my interests pretty much solely include searching for World Wonders based upon my own arbitrary list. My main role in the trip was dance coordinator.

And with this dreamteam assembled, the holiday was ready to begin.


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