June 9: Gans to La Solitude, Martillac & La Creche

Bon-Bon  (LOL):

Well, we  woke up at Jackie’s and mom’s. after a great, great night’s sleep. Being “at home” as Jackie wanted us to feel, we left our room and went out to  get coffee in our “jammies”.  There were 4 other guests at the B&B this morning so we all sat in the Breakfast Salon together since it was set for  6.  The other 4 guests were all dressed up as we sat there in our “jammies”, perfectly  comfortable.

We had an  array of fresh breads & croissants of all sorts, French cheeses, homemade jams which were local, Caribbean and other selections.  During breakfast,  one of the other women wanted coffee and I saw that Jackie was on the  phone.  So, I immediately went into the kitchen, grabbed the pot of coffee and returned to pour the woman more coffee. She looked at me “shocked” because I was a guest.  It was apparent that they were all shocked …including Jackie when he saw me return with the pot.  We laughed with him about it later as the three of us sat our on the back patio and chatted before  our departure.

We said our farewells to Jackie...mom was still upstairs asleep.
We said our farewells to Jackie…mom was still upstairs asleep.

We  returned to our room, showered and packed up the car before going back to chat  with Jackie a bit more since it was obvious he didn’t want us to leave … his  English-speaking new friends.  Mom was still upstairs fast asleep  since the four of us had stayed up pretty late the night before laughing and talking (and getting her to speak English which she did a great job of).  We bid  “farewell” to Jackie and he told us that when/if we ever return to their home, we will always have the “Martinique Suite” … even if he has to kick someone  out of it.  After fond good-bye’s, we  departed.

Our first  stop of the day was La Solitude – Notre Dame des Bois – The Holy Family of  Bordeaux in Martillac, France.  We were in the hopes of seeing the Eucharistic Miracle of Bordeaux Relic(s) in Bordeaux, but through emails to the Church of Sainte Eulalie, Father Didier Monget had suggested we also visit La  Solitude which we did put on our Itinerary.  When we arrived at the Spiritual Center at La Solitude, we were quite surprised that our name was on  their schedule of pilgrims.  Susan had emailed them before our trip to  request information, but we had no idea they were waiting for us.  One of  the greeters told us that Sister Catherine had been awaiting our arrival and  that she was now in the Chapel of the Tomb of Father Pierre Bienvenu Noailles,  the founder of the Order, and that 11:30 A.M. Mass was about to begin.  She invited us to stay to attend Mass with the Sisters and she brought us in to  Sister Catherine.

Mass at L'lle bouchard
Mass in the Chapel at La Solitude

It was a beautiful Mass in a small Chapel.  The Chapel was filled with Religious Sisters, elderly residents (this, we found, was another home for the elderly)  and guests.  Communion was very special … we received the Eucharist along  with the Congregation but I noticed that everyone was walking up to the Altar after receiving so I nudged Susan to do the same.  On the Altar were two  Chalices which some “tinctured” their Host and others consumed and then took the  Precious Blood.  After Mass, we all sat silently for a while in deep  contemplation.

The two of us did not see Sister in the foyer after Mass so we walked back outside to look  around the grounds.  Sister came around the corner and, lo and behold, she  spoke wonderful English.  She asked if we would like to join them for lunch, but we were still full from breakfast, so we graciously declined.  The she informed us that the only remaining item from the Eucharistic Miracle was the Monstrance that had contained the Sacred Host at one time.  Sister was on her way to lunch and said that she would return to us afterward.  We told her we would walk the grounds and determine the rest of the schedule for the day because I had it jam-packed full on our Itinerary.

After  plugging in our remaining destinations for the day and on to our next B&B  for the night, I realized that we did not have enough hours in the day for the driving, the visiting of the Shrines I had scheduled and then getting to our next destination hotel so I had to make the “executive decision” to depart.  We didn’t know where Sister was having her lunch, so we left the Monastery and headed towards Notre Dame de  Talence.

Talence,  France is on the outskirts of Bordeaux.  We had not been there before and  we never expected the traffic to be so crazy and busy.   It took us quite some time to reach our destination through the myriad of traffic. 

Sue miraculously figured out how to work the parking meter--very hi tech
Sue miraculously figured out how to work the parking meter–very hi tech

Once we arrived, and fortunately, I found a parking place almost directly in  front of the Shrine.  I couldn’t figure out how to use their parking meter,  though, so Susan took a whack at it and, miraculously, she got us a parking ticket for one hour … for “free”. 

As we walked to the Shrine, however, I  took notice of the very large “parking lot” for the Shrine … no parking meters  … oh well!

The pieta in Notred Dame de Talence
The pieta in Notred Dame de Talence

We really  didn’t know what to expect at Notre Dame de Talence.  As we entered the  Shrine, we noted that some parts were very, very old while up near the Altar and  Sanctuary, it appeared to be very ultra-modern.  There were beautiful, old stone Stations of the Cross as we proceeded towards the Altar in search of the Sacred Statue of the Pieta. 

praying at the Pieta in Talence
Praying for all of our intentions at the Pieta in Talence

On the right of the Sanctuary was a very old  and small Chapel with the very, very old “Pieta” statue of Our Lady and the Crucified Christ lying on her knees.  It was breathtaking!  We knelt  and Prayed before the Pieta for what we felt was a very long time. 

We leave your prayer intentions at every shrine we visit, if at all possible
We leave your prayer intentions at every shrine we visit, if at all possible

Then, as always if it is available, Susan entered your Intentions in their Prayer Book and we lit a candle before Our Lady on your behalf.  We then sat in front  of the Pieta and Prayed our Rosary and our Daily Litany of Prayers in  quiet.  There were a few others around us …also in deep Prayer. 

 After leaving the Shrine, Susan and I both agreed that there was something “quite special” about the Shrine and the “Pieta” Statue … a great sense of  tranquility had filled us  both.

Knowing  that Susan’s “free time” on the parking meter was running out, we
knew that it  was time to depart for our next destination so we walked back to the car.   We realized that we were parked almost directly in front of a train station stop  that “could have” taken us in to Bordeaux and to Eglise Sainte Eulalie where the Father of St. Therese de Lisieux, Louis Martin, was Baptized.  He and his  wife, Zelie, will be Canonized on October 19, 2015. We had looked forward  to visiting this special Shrine and meeting Father Didier Monget whom Susan had  communicated with before our trip, but looking at the time … having been told  by Jackie at our B&B that one does not want to get caught in the “rush hour  traffic” in Bordeaux … and knowing that we still have a long two hour drive  from Bordeaux to get to our next Bed & Breakfast, we knew that we had to put  this Shrine on our agenda for our next journey through France.  Reluctantly, we departed to La Creche, our next night’s  stay.

We headed  to our next destination and hoped to find a place to stop and eat along the  way.  We were driving on the hectic Autovia (Toll Road of France) and  didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find a restaurant without a major  diversion.  I finally decided to get off the Autovia in a small town along  the way. 

With all the cafes closed, we had to improvise.  Thank goodness for those good French breads
With all the cafes closed, we had to improvise. Thank goodness for those good French breads

Almost an hour later … and walking in to cafe’s to be told  they had stopped food service until the evening, we left the small town with the  only thing we had found available to eat … a large slice of French bread with  one slice of ham, one slice of cheese and some dijon mustard … at that point,  we didn’t care.  We were both starving and chowed it down. 

Once our headaches were gone, we both agreed that finding somewhere to eat in France and Spain during the afternoon is not an easy task.  After  heavy traffic and numerous toll stops, we finally arrived at our next Bed &  Breakfast in La Creche (where we realized later we should have just driven to in  order to have a nice, casual lunch.)  Once we had checked in, the lovely  young woman who owns the B&B told us that there was a fabulous Pizza Cafe  and a Cambodian Restaurant a “stone’s throw” away and that both had been open  until a short time ago … two places we “could have” eaten today if we hadn’t stopped in that small town with no food except a  “sang-wich”!

We had  very nice accommodations again at this lovely B&B.  We settled in and  decided that we should try our “Google Voice” that I had set up before our  departure from home.  I was hoping that these calls will be “free” as we were told … otherwise, we’re going to have one HUGE phone bill when we return home.  Especially since many of our family/friends did not answer
when we called, because it shows an “850” area code, so they probably assumed it was a  tele-marketer or two.

We made a very special point of calling Barry & Corinne but she wouldn’t answer either.  So, I called our Cathedral to have their daughter, Monet, call them directly and tell them to ANSWER THE PHONE!  Monet told me that Jim F. was over with Barry so, after I tried to call Corinne’s cell the second time and she still didn’t answer, I dialed Jim’s number and he did “take a chance” and answered his phone (thanks, Jim). The 5 of us (on speaker phone) shared a lot of laughs and a great conversation.

Susan then IM’d our friend, Johna, to tell her to answer her cell phone with a strange number (which she had not done before but she did tonight).   So we had laughs and we realized that we are missing all of you very much … well, truth be told, wish you were here with us!  Oh, I forgot … you all are and have been here with us (vicariously) in the back seat with our Angels.

I  briefly thought about going out for dinner after 8:00 P.M. when everything will re-open.  As we worked on our computers, we noshed on our left-over potato chips and cheese-doodles and put our heads on our pillows just around  8:30 P.M. … lights out and no dinner  again!

Until  tomorrow … Au Revoir!

O Most Holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the  overwhelming
grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the  crucifixion, and
the death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of  compassion and
awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings,  as well as a
sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged  from all
undue affections for the passing joys of this earth, I may long for the
eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforth all my thoughts and all my actions may be
directed toward this one most desirable object.
Honor, glory, and love to our Divine Lord Jesus, and to the Holy and
Immaculate Mother of God.

Love Susan & Tom