But I did get here safely, and Papillon (new readers: that's my bike) made it through the trip totally unscathed. Went back together like a charm and we took a little spin around Toulouse, did some last minute tasks.
I am a lucky woman: Hélène and Pierre invited me to dinner, included 2 friends of theirs, and we feasted on duck; grilled eggplant, zucchini, and peppers; delicious flatbread homemade by Hélène; fruit salad and an excellent Corbières. It was a delightful evening, all four of them so warm, and friendly, and interesting and kind...and very gracious about my mediocre language skills. But we could communicate, and had a laughter-filled evening.
Back at the hotel sometime near midnight, I set my telephone alarm for 8, and fell asleep. It rang, I hopped up, feeling much more myself, got dressed, put my watch on ... and saw that it was almost 10:00. Wanting to make a 10:30 train, I had set the alarm, but forgotten about the clock. At the train station, just before 10:30, I learned that there was no train today that had room for my bike. Room for me, but not with bike. I booked a ticket for tomorrow, so will miss one day in St. Jean de Luz.
But I gained a day in Toulouse. Wonderful how the unexpected can lead to the most delightful experiences. I headed for a corner with a beautiful view of St. Sernin Cathedral and a café with good coffee, which I've enjoyed before. But I didn't get there. By happy chance, my route took me past the city's biggest market, which I have wanted to visit since my first 2009 trip here. At home recently, I have been reading The Belly of Paris, set mostly in Les Halles during the 1850s; today many of the sights and odors and jostling people were reminiscent of Zola's descriptions of that older market.
After that I spent the day walking the old streets, visiting Les Jacobins, where the first step into the cloisters brought immediately the smell of boxwood and a silencing of the street sounds: voices, traffic, even the musician playing a medieval stringed instrument were gone. There is grass between the boxwood now. Probably was once a garden filled with vegetables, and culinary and medicinal herbs.
Toulouse has many beautiful Renaissance hotels (which doesn't mean hotel, but a large city residence, house is too small a word, mansion seems inappropriate. I don't know a good translation.)
Here are some images from today's wanderings.
(And Helene or Pierre if you should read this. I didn't call only because I didn't want to disrupt your well-earned weekend! If it had been an emergency I would have. Thanks again so much for last night!)