Carcassonne via Pamiers

En route to Carcassonne had another ancestry stop at Pamiers – birth place of Calixte Lachaume, Andrew’s great, great grandfather. Calixte was a watchmaker. He married Maria Sincock from Cornwall. They were grandparents to Andrew’s grandfather Marcel. Why they ended up in Noumea or if they married in England, France or New Caledonia are all questions that need a few more hours research!!

The medieval city of Carcassonne was a great place to visit. We stayed in a beautiful B&B at the base of the massive fortification. It was quite a steep climb walking up but it was so worth it. We spent the afternoon strolling around La Cité and exploring the ramparts and watch towers. The view of the surrounding countryside was lovely. We had a nice dinner in a restaurant in the city. The only thing we weren’t too keen on was an art installation that had parts of the fortress covered in yellow – well it wasn’t paint, it was like contact! An enjoyable day.



Days 11 – 13

Spent the next few days walking around this beautiful, bustling city. Visited the Place de la Victoria, saw the Tribunal de Grand Instance, and the Musee des Beaux Artes but the best thing happened during our visit to the magnificent Musee de l’Aquitaine Bordeaux. Not only was there a brilliant Jack London and the South Seas exhibition but the lovely young lady at the information desk just by chance mentioned that during the evening there would be music all over the city – and there was!! We had a picnic dinner in the Jardin public and there was a choir singing, we walked through the city and there were jazz bands, opera singers, rock and roll bands and a cappella groups singing on every corner – add this to warm breeze and the twilight glow of the sandstone buildings and it was just a truly magical evening!

We have so enjoyed visiting Bordeaux. We have loved going to the park with our cheese, wine and bread. The stone buildings are just magnificent and don’t get me started on the food, the coffee and the general atmosphere, a great place to walk around and take in all of the beauty. We were very sad to leave.

Bordeaux via Saint-Vincent de-Connezac

Day 10

Drove to Bordeaux today via Saint-Vincent-de-Connezac – a small town in the Dordogne region. Have been researching family histories for the past couple of years and found out Andrew’s great great grandfather was born and lived here before he was shipped to New Caledonia as as young school teacher. His name was Georges Lavoix and he was Andrew’s grandmother Marguerite’s grandfather- history lesson over!!

Well we arrived in Bordeaux in the afternoon during the crazy trafficy rush hour! It was mad, but Andrew did a brilliant job of getting us to our hotel. We have the smallest room I could ever imagine – luckily we all get on!! Went for an evening walk around this magnificent city – I think we are going to love it here!!


Day 7

Well we caught the plane from Vienna to Paris this morning and arrived in Paris just before lunch. We had a bit of fun while we were waiting for our car, Australia was playing France in the World Cup Football and the guys behind the counter were giving us heaps because France was winning!! We had a really pleasant drive, took about 3 hours. Andrew did a great job of driving out of the city. Arrived a the beautiful village of Amboise and found our little AirBNB on the Rue Manuel … we love it!!

Day 8

Such a beautiful village. We had dinner in one of the little restaurants and then headed out for 2 Chateaux today, Villandry and Chennenceau. Andrew has really enjoyed going down to the shops and buying our morning bread, croissants and fruit and trying out his French on the locals.

Our bread from the little boulangerie

The Chateaux were simply amazing. The gardens were spectacular and we just enjoyed walking around and taking it all in. The weather was beautiful too, so that always helps.

The above photos are of Villandry and the ones below are from Chennenceau.

Day 9

Absolutely brilliant day yesterday. We headed off to Chateau Chambord today. Again we were taken by the truly awe inspiring architecture. We hired bikes and rode around the property, which was another great experience. We spent most of the day here and when we got back we went for a final wander around Amboise. We tried to get into the Chateau at Amboise but we were too late. We also did not get to go inside Leonardo da Vinci’s house – so it just means we will have to come back. We had a dinner in the village and walked around Amboise it is such a beautiful town, I would love to come back.

Spectacular Chambord above and the beautiful town of Amboise, with its impressive Chateau, looking over the Loire river

Chateau Amboise


Day 4

Picked up our car and drove to Salzburg – beautiful drive which took about 3 hours. A bit rainy when we arrived but we still managed a walk around the Old Town, dinner at Alter Fuchs and then attended a concert at the Mirabell Palace – sublime concert in amazing surroundings with fabulous company!D

Day 5

Luckily the rain had stopped because we had a very busy day today. We headed into the old town and visited the Mozart Museums – Mozart’s Geburthaus (Yellow House where he spent his first 17 years) and Mozart-Wohnhaus (later part of this life). We went to the Mirabell gardens so we could see them in the daytime and then made the climb up to Festung Hohensalzburg, the magnificent clifftop fortress that overlooks Salzburg. Rooftops, gardens, statues and streetscapes – Salzburg has them in abundance!

Day 6

The sun was shining and we left beautiful Salzburg and headed for Vienna, as we were staying the night there. We spent to day driving to the magnificent lake area of Mondsee. We hired a little boat, the Suzie, and had a beautiful couple of hours just puttering around – I loved it! We then went to the church that featured in the Sound of Music, drove to St Gilgen for lunch and then slowly made our way to Vienna for a 6pm drop off at Hertz. Stayed the night at the Moxy Hotel at the airport – great beds! Brilliant day!!

Europe – we’re back!!

After 38 years we are heading back to Europe. We are so excited to be spend 5 weeks travelling – 1 week in Austria and then a month in France. Best of all we get to catch up with our youngest daughter who has been living in London for the past 8 months. Our eldest daughter is joining us in Marseille for a family vacation, bring it on!!

Day 1

We are staying in a fabulous apartment, Elegant Vienna, located on the Kurrentgasse. Spent the morning going to St Stephen’s Cathedral and walking around the beautiful streets. Tonight we went to see the Ensemble Wein play Brahms art the Musikverein – Andrew was in heaven!

Day 2

  • Today we went to the Schloss Belvedere & Gardens and saw the magnificent Klimt art collection. Saw Karlskirche and again spent another day wandering the streets. Went to the Sacher Cafe today and indulged in an authentic Sacher Torte – delicious! Went to the night markets for dinner.

Day 3

Went to the Schloss Schonbrunn today. Absolutely stunning!! Spent most to the day walking and just taking in the grandeur of the palace. Was very warm. Andrew met a busker dressed as Mozart – he was a very interesting guy. The evening was spent at the Konzert Hall seeing Camerata Salzburg. Beautiful day and evening.

18 day road trip. Heading south from San Francisco on the PCH – ending in Las Vegas

Day 1 Left San Francisco on -Highway 1, stopped at Pigeon Point and Redwoods at Henry Cowell State Park.

Day 2 and 3 Monterey, Took a dolphin cruise, visited Carmel, crossed the magnificent Bixby Bridge, gazed at the beauty of Big Sur saw a cute little squirrel.

 Day 4 Spent the day at Hearst Castle, marvelled at the Californian Oranges, and enjoyed some pastries at the Danish Village Solvang.

Day 5 and 6: Cruised into Santa Barbara – Loved the Mission, Courthouse and the waterfront – the architecture, flowers and tiles are stunning.

Day 7, 8 and 9 Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios, LA glittering from Griffith Observatory, Sunset Horse Ride in the Hollywood Hills and a downtown LA historical/literary Black Dahlia tour – great experience.

Day 10, 11 and 12 After a fun few days of Theme parks we were ready for some reality.

Day 13, 14, 15 A real highlight was the visit to San Juan Capistrano Mission. La Jolla, Coronado, Old Town and Balboa Park San Diego.

Day 16, 17 and 18 Mixed bag – Mohave Desert, the oasis of Peggy Sue’s Diner then Vegas baby!

Day trip on parts of Route 66. Saw Hoover Dam, that little minx Betty Boop again, and was struck by the unbelievable beauty of the Grand Canyon in winter, then back to Vegas

And so ended our fabulous stay in America. We caught the plane from Las Vegas for Sydney and once we were home we began to plan for our next adventure.