“Heart of the Lion” – by Debbie Ambrous

I asked Jim to stop the car when I saw this, but there was so much more …

Two nights away from the house seemed like a great idea.  We could see a different section of France and perhaps run away from rain and clouds advancing toward us.  Moving along to the south seemed like the best direction.  Provence is too far away with six hours of driving, so we decided on the Tarn- Garonne and Auvergne regions.

Lace, crochet and embroidery drying in a protected place

We didn’t drive very far until I spotted something I had to aim my camera toward.  Then I discovered there was much more to this village – Saint Front sur Lemance – than I realized.  We’ve dashed past many times, not knowing what beauty was along the little lanes leading from the main road.

Just think, I could sit on this bench every day if I could find a house here at my poverty level budget.

The sun was shining beautifully and had apparently put in its best performance in the Lot region compared to the Dordogne since the rose bushes were covered in blooms.

We entered our destination area, driving on high roads with towering walls of stone surrounding a valley and river far below.  We decided to spend the night at St. Antonin Noble Val, a beautiful town with a tree-lined road leading through the center and narrow lanes winding among its ancient buildings.  Our hotel was selected at the tourism office.  This is a good plan if you are not familiar with an area since it saves driving or walking to many undesirable or fully-booked places.  Now I’m sounding like Rick Steves.  We were very fortunate with our choice, the small Auberge Lion D’Or that oozes charm and atmosphere in an ancient building from the 1600’s updated with modern comforts without losing the old character.

As you can see from the picture we had the honeymoon suite, or so the door seems to indicate.  The chamber is named Au Coeur du Lion – heart of the lion.  Perhaps they thought we were newlyweds, mistaking our lost and bewildered appearance for romantic bliss.  Apparently they missed the fact that I walked 10 paces ahead instead of behind the noble husband, and they didn’t know that we had no problem with their rule of not drinking red wine in the matrimonial bed.  I favored reading the big stack of interior design magazines instead.  Jim trimmed his finger and toe nails.  Not sure what else he did since I was in a state of bliss.

An open window to the view from our “Heart of the Lion” room in the auberge.

Before we indulged in these delights, we walked the ancient streets snapping a few pictures.  The sun was disappearing with very little light, so I held back thinking the morning light would be best.  We found a sandwich-burger place on the corner and ate our burgers and frites at street-side tables with children entertaining us.

A view of the honeymoon bed from the mirror above the fireplace. No red wine spills – guaranteed!

Breakfast was wonderful with fresh bread, sliced ham, cheeses, coffee, tea, orange juice and a nice selection of Bonne Maman jelly.  The friendly couple from the Netherlands who own the auberge gave us a tour of the present kitchen and the new kitchen they are building.  He is an expert craftsman, building beautiful cabinets and stairways and restoring the old buildings.  We were very fortunate to find them, and I would very highly recommend a stay in this lovely place.

The talented and charming innkeepers, Jan & Bojourna van Schaik

Unfortunately, it was raining the next morning so we didn’t visit Cordes sur Ciel, our next planned stop.  Actually, we visited about seven times as we hunted for the road sign we needed, turning around and coming back and looking from every possible angle.  Jim pulled into a ninety-degree angled driveway and backed into a blind-cornered road with a drop off to infinity on my side of the car to turn around.  Well almost.  He was putting me in the mood for the next honeymoon hotel.

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4 thoughts on ““Heart of the Lion” – by Debbie Ambrous

  1. I was telling a friend about you yesterday. She’s leaving for Paris next month to see her mom for a few months. She’s young, so she wants to take this opportunity while she can.

    • Kristy,
      Sounds like it will be a good opportunity, visiting her mom and Paris. If she is able to go outside Paris for a visit to see the gardens, castles, little villages then she will be totally hooked. Paris will draw her back also, of course.

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