Travel/Food 2018 – French Road Trip, Day 16, Pau

Sunday, May 20th – Day 16, Pau

And so we came to our final day of racing. Some lunatic had decided to schedule the first of the Formula Ford races at stupid o’clock, or at least 08:00 on Sunday morning. I mean, who does that to people? We decided that we really, really couldn’t miss that so we’d get up and go straight out, and then return to the hotel for breakfast straight afterwards. Thus we found ourselves on the funicular at 07:50 headed for the Gare grandstands.

It was a good race, with some cracking overtaking, and we were glad we’d made the effort. They do put on a good show, and this was no exception with quite a few spills and thrills, needless to say.

Anyway, that over with we trundled back up the funicular to the hotel in search of coffee, yogurt and croissants. When we came back the minis had kicked off, in every sense! Looking at the track from above it became a case of “such interesting lines… and so many of them”!

 

 

It’s fair to say he seemed to be having some trouble with Gare. Just as well there was a crack team on hand to help.

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Oddly enough there were also protests going on about road transport being preferred instead of rail. I would have expected that sort of protest to take place over the modern GP weekend, what with it having TV coverage and involving modern cars, but they’d turned up here instead. That aside it seemed to be a pretty peaceful weekend; at least there were no sit down protests in the middle of the track, unlike previous years.

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The Bugatti race was fun, with much flinging of cars from side to side. None of them could keep up with the Cooper Bristol, but they were still fun.

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One of the nicest things about the historic GP was that your ticket entitled you to sit anywhere you wanted, provided there was room, rather than tying you to one seat for the entire day. We moved around from one part to another, stopping in different places for different races, which meant we saw this happen too. He seemed somewhat surprised when it all went wrong, but with the number of cars they had out there it was only a matter of time before someone ran out of room.

 

Just before the Legends went out, we headed over to the paddock, considering getting lunch there. Instead, we turned right at the bottom of the bridge and headed down towards the cafe/bar that always used to be there. These days it’s called the Rock’n BEEF and it isn’t normally open during the daytime at weekends, but there was a sign up that said they were doing food both days. It specialises in beef and good music, apparently.

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They had an awning up trackside, so we sat out there, struggling to have a conversation with the noise from the Legends, but enjoying the sound while we hit the aperitifs.

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We ordered the plat du jour, which was confit de canard with fried potatoes and mushrooms, which couldn’t be more traditional for us at Pau at lunchtime.

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It could have been more refined, but at under €10 a plate no one was going to complain. It was enough, with a bottle of red wine to go with it. They didn’t appear to have a wine list, the proprietor just handed me a bottle of Domaine Valambelle Faugeres AOP Millepeyres 2015 and said that was what we should have. He wasn’t wrong.

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After lunch we strolled into the paddock where we found some very weird things indeed.

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Presumably they had been part of the lunchtime parade, promoting tourism in the area. Or something…

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It was getting too weird now so we went to talk to people in the Formula Ford paddock, something we probably shouldn’t have done, because we came away knowing more than we really needed to about what had gone on in qualifying, and questioning the sanity of a number of the drivers. We really ought to know better, and yes, John Svensson and Geoffrey Horion, I do mean you!

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An entertaining and amusing afternoon followed as we enjoyed the racing, and eventually we headed up to E and W’s apartment to collect our car fridge from them. The place was rather fine, and in the very impressive Residence le France.

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The inside is quite amazing and it shows signs of the very grand hotel it apparently once was. Oh, and it was really well located pretty much opposite the top of the funicular. I could see why they rebooked it after their first weekend.

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We headed back to the hotel after that, and organised our luggage for the morning, before we got cleaned up and ready to go out one last time in Pau. If this was going to be the last time we came here, we were going to make it a good one, by going to our old favourite, le Dauphin. However, we decided we’d drop in to the Place Gourmande first as it was right in front of us. There was a promise of cocktails at Big Mama‘s stand, but as it turned out to be a choice between a martini or a mojito, we had one so we could acquire more of the GP cups, and gave that up as a bad job.

We did take time out to wonder at some people’s advertising sense though. Somehow Black’n’Crusty for pizzas is not an appealing idea, though I suppose it’s at least memorable.

We had heard rumours of a very good new bar near the chateau so we texted the others to say we’d gone to find it. It was shut, but we did find a man playing a piano in the middle of the square, which was different. He was also very good so we sat and listened for a while, then applauded and left.

Next we stopped off at Au Grain du Raisin, for a couple of drinks, again for old times sake. And this despite the fact that they can sometimes be more than a little snappish if you have the nerve to choose your table yourself – or for that matter if your chair ends up with its feet on one of their umbrellas! They do sometimes manage to make you feel as if they’d rather not be bothered with customers. Still, it gave R a chance to try one more of the local beers.

After we’d done there, and were all collected together, we went over to le Dauphin, and took a table on the terrace, under the awnings and up against the fountain. It was a pleasant night still, and so aperitifs were ordered, while menus were considered.

And just as we’d decided roughly what we wanted, the wind got up and it started to rain. We considered sitting it out as we were under the awnings, but then it really started to rain. We scrambled for cover and the waiters helped us get settled indoors. There was no way we could stay out in that, not with the sheer volume of water throwing itself out of the skies. Lynne started with duck spring rolls which were really good (I got a bite or two).

Despite wearing white I chose the fish soup because I really can’t resist fish soup, especially with its accompaniments (aioli, a massive crouton and not quite as much cheese as I would like, though that’s because I’m greedy where cheese is concerned).

Someone, I’m not sure who, ordered the fruits de mer to start, and what they got was an enormous plateful of various seafood. I was slightly jealous but still happy to stick with my soup.

For main courses we stayed with fish, with E going for the salmon, which again was reported to be good.

Lynne’s choice was the cod, which was very good indeed.

And I went for the scallops and prawns, because I’d found myself wishing I’d had them the week before.

And I really hadn’t been going to have a dessert but they tempted me with apple tart and salted caramel and who was I to resist such an offer?

It had stopped raining by the time we’d finished dinner, which was a bit of a shame as it meant the noise levels from the Place Gourmande were horrendous that night. It being a bank holiday on Monday it seemed as we might be the only people in Pau who actually wanted to sleep!

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