28 July.  We have arrived in Dubai. This time all the flights connected with minimal waiting time. But two seven hour flights with a one hour stop in Singapore is still a long stretch. Lucky the plane to Singapore had a lot of empty seats and I was able to stretch out on three of them and Susan moved to a spot which had more leg room. This is not the best time to visit the day we arrived it was 45 degrees and very hazy. It looked like China on a bad day only this is not smog but desert dust.
First thing we did was walk to the Emirates mall but there is where the ski slope is. A lot of expensive shops in here but we did not see too many buyers. Early too bed and we both slept about 10 hours. Next day booked two tours one to explore Dubai and one a desert safari.  Both tours start late so we took a taxi to the market. Like any market in the tropics you get hassled but they hive up pretty quickly. The temperature was not too bad according to our guide only 41 degrees. All shops and bus stops are air-conditioned.
      Susan and tour guide drooling over all that gold.                 Burj Al Arab  hotel on the right.  Famous hotel

                 41 degrees outside freezing inside                             Most small goods come in via boats like this

Anyone who is not an citizen can not start a business on its own but need a native partner. They have to pay this person. Therefore the most Arabs don't have to work but are a partner in the business but don't involve themselves with it. Easy money if you can get it. The second day we went on a desert tour. They were a bit disorganised but we eventually got to the camp with a driver who had fun waving through the sand dunes. The show and food were pretty good. We were back at 10 PM and had to be woken up at one AM. Luckily the wakeup service of the hotel was excellent. We had to wait a few hours at the airport and on our way to France. Seven hours later and we were in Paris. Patrick was waiting for us and it took e bit of pushing and shoving to get all the luggage in the small car and we were on our way. The weather was perfect and after seven hours we arrived in Montignac. I had a look on Google earth and presumed that it was the house across the road but it was the nicer one. The house is enormous but only a small part is being used. Early to bed the first day. The next day a bit of sightseeing. Patrick has a Citroen 2CV and a late model Citroen. The last time I drove a 2CV was in Cameroon in 1969. Gutless motor but great fun.

                           Desert tour Dubai                                                 Our humble abode in Montignac
This holiday is going to be a castle holiday. There is one in every village and the villages are very close together.
Montignac is only very small but there is a bakery, pub and tourist office. Most shopping has to be done in Angouleme which is 17 KM away. The first couple of days Patrick showed us around the area but I still have not found my bearings yet. It is not very hilly and the farmers live mostly from sunflower, corn and a few vineyards. The closer you get to the coast the more grapes and less sunflower.
5 August. Our first day alone and went for a drive and the even with the GPS we still have difficulties getting to where we want to go. Wanted to visit a castle but it was closed. Next day to Cognac. This is a tourist town and not only because of the alcohol. I don't particularly like to drive those narrow roads with only inches to spare either side. And everybody seems in a hurry. In those narrow streets the speed limit is 30 KH. We visited the Remy Martin factory. You get a lot of info on what they are doing but apart from looking at rows of barrels there is not much more to see. 

               2 CV the fun machine                                               We did not have enough money in the bank to buy this one.

9 August. A long drive to Bordeaux. The roads are excellent 110 KH all the way but boring. But I still have to concentrate more than in Oz because of the amount of traffic.  No problems parking and we walked all day in the city. Somehow it did not appeal to me. A lot of tourists offcourse and big cathedrals. The cathedrals are not as impressive as we have seen in Belgium. The stonework is fairly primitive on the outside. Maybe because the Pommies looted it all in the 14th century. There are a lot of street beggars. They just sleep in the street with a cup in front of them in the hope someone puts an dime in. But a street performance which is popular here I have not seen before. They must weld an elaborate structure to enable to suspend themselves like this. 12 August. Went to visit the castle in Verteuil which was closed the first time we went there. This time we were four hours early. Time to explore the neighbourhood and have lunch. The tour was in French and English but we had only limited access inside because it is still lived in and the owners understandably want their privacy.  

    Susan admiring the street performers in Bordeau                       Verteuil castle                     Cathedrale Saint Pierre
13 August. The weather is a bit all over the place. Last night rain and thunderstorms. Today overcast and couple of showers.
We had our house host and lady friend over for lunch. Bought a 10 l cask of wine and did a lot of reading. Next day still lousy weather and just stayed home. 16 August. I had a full days activities organised but when I wanted to fill the tank up my normal credit did nor work and my platinum card was accepted but declined as soon as it made contact with my bank. So all we could do was go home. At least the weather improved. 17 August. Another castle day. This time Chateau de La Rochefoucauld. The Verteuil castle we visited before is also owned by this family. In the old days this family owned 150 castles. The one we visited today started to be build in 980 AD. But has been extensively modified over the years. In this castle which is still lived in we were allowed to go through one wing. The tour took us through the four libraries. For those so inclined you can dress in medieval costumes while visiting the castle.  Next day in to Angouleme. Another day another cathedral. Cathedrale Saint Pierre. Walked around for an hour in glorious weather.
                          Chateau de La Rochefoucald                                      Marjan  Susan  Ket, the three sisters in France
20 August. Two sisters from Susan arrived from Holland. Ket and Marjan. The reunion had to be celebrated with copious amounts of wine and a BBQ for dinner. Next days a bit of sightseeing and another Brick a Brack market. Ket and Marjan took us out for dinner, we had a large church in the background and surrounded by old buildings and a lovely meal. Sunday and Marjan had to leave us already. Last night we had a lot of rain but it slowly started to clear up, visited another two markets. We just made it in time for the communal lunch which consisted of an entree of halve a rockmelon filled with a sweet wine. Apparently a local delicacy. Followed by a bowl of mussels with chips followed by a piece of cake. All this washed down with two bottles of wine. Luckily the place is only 2Km from home.
Susan and Ket getting stuck into the mussels                                 Poitiers.  Eglise Notre Dame-la-Grande
Next day to Poitiers via a lot of small villages. Poitiers has a lot of historical buildings. The information centre had an excellent map with drawings of all the buildings in it. This made it easy to find our way around town. The cathedrals and churches were the best we have seen so far. A lot of wall and ceiling paintings which we had not seen in any other church in this area. You can not stop at every little village no matter how quaint. However we did stop in Confolence, but too short. We have to go back there. Next day before we brought Ket to the airport we spend the day in Bordeau. We had been here before so it was just like visiting an old friend. The weather was just perfect and we visited the museum of modern art and a lot of churches. Last time we were there I wanted to clime the belltower of the Cathedrale St. Andre, but time ran out. This time the ladies could visit the cathedral and I could go to the top. This gave an excellent view of the city. And after we dropped Ket off at the airport it was another 145 Km to our abode in Angouleme.
         Bordeau  Grosse Cloche                              View from the top of the belltower of the Cathedrale St. Andre
26 August.  Did some shopping in Angouleme but for the next few days just at home till the next guests arrive. Well Bep Schuring and Loek Lid have arrived. We had a wonderful time with them. Visited a few castles and second hand markets. We were lucky to have guests with roomy cars because the car from Patrick is very nice it is a bugger to get in to the back seat, so we drove around in the guests cars. During the day sightseeing, during the night playing cards and in between drinking wine.

       Loek.  Susan   Bep                                  Just about to be harvested                                So are the sunflowers
6 September.  We made a trip to Sint Emilion. I had read a bit about it but this was the big surprise of the day. It is a tourist mecca with thousands of tourists everywhere and the school holidays were just finished.

The first traces of human settlement in the Saint-Emilion region date back at least to the Upper Palaeolithic (35,000-10,000 BC).  The region was heavily populated during the Celtic-Gaulish period,  The Roman occupation began when Augustus created the province of Aquitania in 27 BC with the first vineyards by grafting new varieties of grape on the Vitis biturica that grew naturally in the region. The first Christian monasteries appear at the beginning of the 7th century. As the region was on the Pilgrimage Route to Santiago de Compostela.   We did a tour of the church which had been cut out of the limestone and walked around for ages.
                                         Saint Emilion                                                     Roman fortifications in Blaye
3 September. Brought Susan to the Bordeau airport, she is going to spend five days in Holland. Her brother and his wife are giving a big party. The return trip Bordeau Amsterdam was only $90.  After I dropped Susan off I continued to explore the area from Bordeau to the coast. The Medoc is famous for it's wines. The countryside is a bit boring. Flat with pine trees, sunflowers and grapes. Took the ferry to Blaye where is a Roman fort. Massive and very impressive. Further up the coast a lot of tourists at the beach. In the whole area the houses were a lot more recent than when you drive inland. Time was running out and I got home 7.30 PM.  Susan told Patrick to look after me and he has been providing the meals. On the other hand I have been working in the garden and on his 2CV car. He had filled it up with oil well above the recommended level and everything was covered in oil. To top it off he stripped the sump plug so we could not let the oil out.
On Sunday we went to another brick a brack. (second hand market) This one was huge. 5 Hectare. For lunch we had mussels with chips. For the mussels it was two days in a row as Patrick cooked some the day before. I did not buy anything at the market but there were some very interesting items for sale but no bargains. Monday 7 September. A very interesting day. In the morning had to go with Patrick to a friends house to bring a washing machine and some repairs. For lunch to the Chinese. This was a smorgasbord and they had everything. for only $10 with soft drinks. A bargain. In the afternoon to a friend of Patrick who is a expert in Citroen 2CV. Did some maintenance there and after that to a village like there are millions here. But here they restore vintage cars. They got the machinery to make any part possible including a foundry to make carburettors. All this in a building which is 150 years old.  
           Patrick cooking the mussels                                       Yum yum                                  Chateau de Beynac
8 Sept. Filled up the tank today. 46l and I did 960 KM. This works out as 100KM to 4.6 l. This is four times better than the motorhome. The diesel is here 1.01 Euro which is AU$ 1.71 L. The AU$ has devalued sharply since we are here.
Susan came back from The Netherlands today and I picked her up from the airport in Bordeaux. One day to do the laundry and get ready to head for my brother in Le Grand Bost. Good weather first stop Brantome. The most famous feature is the abbey from the 9th century. A lot of shops are cut in to the limestone cliffs. We did not know what to expect but when you get to a place which is filled with tourists you know there must be something special. Lunch in Perigueux. The historic centre is one of the largest protected in France. We walked around a fair bit. Then off to Bergerac. It is situated beside the river Dordogne. During the 18th century it was an important trading centre. First night we could not find an B&B but there was a nice hotel with an even nicer restaurant across the road. Now we are in the Dordogne valley. If you have the choice to visit only one place in France this it it if you like castles and spectacular views. The area is from Sarlat to Rocamadour.
     View from Chateau de Beynac           Chateau de Belcastel                                                     Rocamadour
Wherever you are on a hilltop you can see castles. The larger ones are open for viewing. We visited the Chateau de Beynac from the 13th century. You wander how they build these castles on top of the rocks. There is a path from the main street beside the river all the way to the castle. A 150 M climb. At the lower part lined with B&B and further up with residential housing. The castle has been extensively restored but you get the feeling that it was like this 700 years ago. We crisscrossed through the valley several times. Another highlight is Rocamadour. They warned us already that it is very commercial but the view over the valley is spectacular. And indeed busloads of tourists are lined up. There is a large parking area at the bottom of the hill. For the less fit there is a tourist train to the castle. The main street is filled with tourists but the view to the top is still impressive. Booked a B&B in the tourist office. The B&B was difficult to find and I had to go through a narrow street to get there which proved more difficult because of a parked car. I did scratch the mirror because those rock walls are not very car friendly. The B&B was OK but the other couple who were there advised us against having breakfast there. A few croissants and coffee at a cafe and we are ready for the day. We did more driving through the Dordogne valley and visited places we had seen before like the Chateau Belcastel and Rocamarour. This time we drove to the top of the Rocamadour castle. For 2 Euro we could walk over the top of the castle. On the way to my brother there were still lots of quaint little villages and one more B&B before we arrived in Le Grand Bost. This B&B was well organised with a family room. The owners and the other guests did not speak any English which we find regularly. The tourist information centres have English speaking staff. We were in time for the  morning coffee. Since we were in Lembelly  http://lembellie-auvergne.eu/
a lot has changed. The rooms were finished but the kitchen and living room still needed a lot of work. This is all finished now and looking very cosy. The B&B is operational since May 2015 and they have been very busy. It was good to see Onno and Cecile again. The weather forecast was poor for the weekend but whenever we had to be outside it cleared up. On Saturday the had guests who were in town for a vintage car rally and stayed for two days. Again conversation was very difficult. On Sunday we visited another Brick a Brack and the next morning it was time to depart again. On the way back the weather was not very kind to us and we did only a little bit of sightseeing. Susan wanted to see Limoges but we spend only little time here because of the rain. Limoges is famous for it's porcelain and we happen to go past a place were they did manufacture and sell but I got the impression Susan expected something else. Susan finally picked up a bit of porcelain from Limoges while walking past an brick a brack shop. 

               Onno Cecile and Susan in Le Grand Bost                      The sun just showed up                Lembelly and 1953 MG
15 September and we are back in Montignac.  Patrick is staying in his girlfriends house for the last week we are here. The weather has taken a turn for the worst. Just after we left Onno, they had a severe storm and an enormous branch fell on their hire caravan. Luckily no damage.
We went for two days to La Rochelle. Susan had been here years ago and wanted to see it in a bit more detail. Saturday and Sunday were the only two days with a good weather forecast. When we arrived, there were thousands of people walking around. We did not realise that this and the surrounds are a tourist hotspot. It also happened to be heritage day which meant all the old buildings were free to visit. We only went up the Saint Nicholas fort tower. We also went on a boat trip to the Ford Boyard. It took 18 years to build in the middle of the main passage way to the harbour. After the boat trip we signed in to the AirB&B we had organised. The first time for us to use this facility. Excellent room and English speaking hosts. We also found that here a lot of people speak English. In the country it is a lot more difficult to get the message across. For lunch we had for the last time mule frites  (mussels and chips). For dinner we sat in a restaurant overlooking the harbour. Susan had paella and I had the second worse steak in France. I don't think they know how to cook them. The second day we visited an island in front of La Rochelle, Ile de Rė.  Again tourists everywhere. Visited old villages, a ford because in the Napoleon days there were a lot of fortifications to defend the very important harbour of La Rochelle. We got home late that afternoon. The next day was clean up day because time in Montognac is up. 

                     Ford Saint Nicholas                                                               Ford Boyard
23 September. We had packed everything and Patrick brought us to the train station and a comfortable trip of 2.5 Hrs first class to Paris. Last year we had difficulties to carry the bags through the metro, this time it was a taxi trip and just walk the four stories up. The unit is at least twice the size of the one we had last year but here we have the four levels and a very dangerous step to the bedroom. Our host was still at home but left after an hour and the place was ours. When we walked around the neighbourhood there were a few clusters of army personnel with automatic weapons. We think it is because there is a Jewish school nearby. We got our metro tickets organised and a map of the city so we are ready to hit the town.
                     9 Rue Morand  Paris                                               Susan while talking to her sister in Holland
First day to the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. We did it the lazy way with a tourist train. When we woke up it was a clear sky but when we are at the  Sacre Coeur we saw the clouds move in and it got a bit chilly. We still did a lot of walking around and between the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre we drifted a bit of the main track and ended up in Africa. We were just about the only Europeans here. Still found a lovely small restaurant for lunch. I gorged on a couple of beers. Before I had to drive but all I have to do now is find the metro station. Susan did not feel walking up the stairs again for a meal so pizza night it was.
Second day Versailles. This is a bit more complicated to get to because it involves the metro and train, but we did get there. We were not the only ones confused by the lack of signage.  We thought that the tourist season is just about finished but I believe it never finishes in Paris. When we got here the queue were like the Chinese line up for Mao Zedong's grave. Luckily things moved fairly fast also helped by chatting to a couple of Ozzies who were lined up behind us. The population of France must have suffered greatly because of the no cost spared on this " residence".  Despite the big crowds you just get swept with the flow and still get to see everything. The trip back on the metro got a bit mixed up but we got home and a rest before we had to tackle the stairs again for a meal.

We were not the only ones visiting the Versailles.  There was another line like this.

Day three. This time Musée d'Orsay. We had heard from several people that this is another must and the queue proved it. Luckily not as big. I have to admit the most expensive pictures are not in the style I like and I would not pay $10 for them let alone $100 mil. But there were a lot of pictures, furniture and sculptures I did like. There was another que inside the museum and this was for the exhibition of images of prostitution between 1850 and 1910. We spend about four hours in the whole museum, but after a while it becomes too much. Another walk along the Seine and back home.
                     Susan admiring an Van Gogh                                             Supposedly car free day in the centre of Paris
Day four. More walking in the Seine area. In the afternoon a boat trip. We did the same last year but it was a pleasant trip. Paris is a lot more expensive than in the country. We are used to pay max 1.5 Euro for a coffee here 2.5 Euro. A three course meal can be had for around 15 euro, in Paris you be lucky to get a main meal for this price. The only thing is a sandwich which hovers around the 5 Euro. It is half a baguette with whatever you want in between. One minus thing today. My camera lens has been playing up the last weeks but died today. Lucky it did not happen the first week. This day there were supposed to be no cars in the centre of the city and the rest of Paris was supposed to be 20KH. I say supposed because there still were a lot of cars here but they had to pass barricades to explain why they should be allowed in. And telling a Frenchmen to drive 20 KH will never work. There were however a lot of pushbikes on the road and a lot of them drove in the middle of the road. Some even had lunch in the middle of the road.
Day five. Just a walking day. Woke up late 8.45 and were in the city by 10.30. Just followed the Seine past the Louvre, garden of Tulleries, arc de Triomphe and Eiffel tower. The area we walked through has some very upmarket shops and the house prices reflect this. A 24 sq.m flat cost 950 000 Euro or A$ 1.5 million. We had a very good and reasonable lunch but the glass of beer was $14.  Home again at 4.30 PM.
Day six. I did a walk in the morning white Susan did some dusting. Another walk in the afternoon. We finally found a restaurant where we had a three course meal for $13. Probably because we walked away from the centre and the expensive shops. The temperature has dropped considerably 9 degrees and a stiff breeze.
Day seven. All we have to do now is clean, pack and find the airport. And this is done.
2 October. We are home after more than 24 hours in planes and airports. Brisbane was the most disorganised. The customs and
  luggage check took so long we missed our plane and were lucky that the next one was not sold out. All it meant was that we were three hours later home than planned. The house sitter had looked after the house perfectly. She stayed another half hour and left. Back in our own place again. We got an email from the house owner in Paris that he was very happy with the way the flat was left. Everybody happy.