Day 1 & 2: Toulouse to Montrejeau (on our way to Spain)

Summary

We flew into Toulouse from Singapore transiting at London. We reached Toulouse International airport after a 13.5 hour first-leg-flight between Singapore and London, 2 hour transit stop in London and another 2 hour (2nd leg) flight to Toulouse. At Toulouse we picked up our Citroen car at a nearby outlet and drove for about an hour to Montrejeau (France).

Montrejeau was selected as the stop for the day as it was conveniently along our route toward Spain with minimum driving which would allow us to recuperate nicely from the long flight. Before the end of the day we had time to explore the town and a nearby lake. We started the next morning with a fantastic sunrise and a lovely breakfast before driving into Spain.

Route from Toulouse to Montrejeau

Route from Toulouse to Montrejeau

Arriving at Toulouse

It was a clear day when we arrived in Toulouse International Airport at about 10:30 am. It did not take us long to pick up our luggage from the belt and exit this modern airport.

Toulouse Airport

Toulouse Airport

Once we found a place to sit down, we replaced our M1(Singapore telco) sim cards in our mobiles with prepaid MyEE sim cards that we had bought in Singapore. We paid SGD$101 for three sim cards; a 30day(5G data + 500 minute call + unlimited text), a 30day(3G data + 300 minute call + unlimited text) and a 60 day(6G data) which we figured should cover all our data and call needs for 53 days.

Instruction to install the prepaid MyEE sim card

Instruction to install the prepaid MyEE sim card

The instructions to install the sim cards seemed pretty straight forward. We followed the steps to activate the sim cards and soon our handphones had internet access. Next was to call Citroen outlet to arrange for the picking up of our lease car. We called the Citroen Toulouse number but just could not get a dial tone. After several tries we had to put back my Singapore M1 sim card back into our phone and cantact Citroen outlet via call roaming!

Somehow the data service of our prepaid MyEE cards  was fine. But the card that was suppose to have 500 minutes of free call within Europe had NO call service! Well it was not our first time encountering such problems, we just had to inform the prepaid sim card seller in Singapore (through whatsapp) and the problem would be resolved in a couple of hours or by the next day.

Picking up our lease citroen in Toulouse

For this 53-day-roa- trip into Spain and Portugal we had leased a Citroen car directly from the car manufacturer. The lease terms allowed us to pick the car in many locations inside and outside France. For pickup and return outside France there would be additional fees to cover oneway charges. We arranged to pick up the car in Toulouse, France (no one way charge), as it had an international airport where we could fly in and we could drive easily into Northern Spain in just 1.5 hour. Northern Spain was as good a place to start our road trip.

The lease cost for the car (Citroen C4 Cactus Cool) for 53 days was €1305. For that price  it was a brand new car with  $0 excess CDW which meant if the car was scratched/dented/damaged during the duration of the lease the insurance would cover the entire repair cost and we pay nothing. This $0 excess CDW was “true” (tested) from our encountered in Italy last year when our previous leased car had a broken side window from an attempt theft in the night.

This lease price included the spouse as a 2nd driver, 24/7 road side service, GPS and etc. This was our second time leasing a car from Citroen. Catherine our Citroen contact kept us in the loop whenever there was a Citroen leasing promotion and we would get her to reserve a car (locked in the rate) for us. Once we finalised our dates of travel we would complete the contract. The payment for the lease was done about 1 to 2 months before the lease start date.

Contact Citroën Euro Pass Singapour 
Catherine Proust
HP: + 65 9075 0464 (pas de messagerie vocale / no voice mail)
e-mail: citroenttsingapour@gmail.com
web:    www.citroen-europass.com
Quote: “CEP JAIKTRAVEL BLOG” in your email to enjoy €50 discount on the lease cost of a Citroen car of minimum 21 days.

At Tolouse airport we called Citroen outlet and a van/staff was sent to pick us up at the airport and brought us to the outlet. The outlet was a huge car park with many new cars and a small office where we went in to complete our procedure.

Citroen pick-up outlet at Toulouse International Airport

Citroen pick-up outlet at Toulouse International Airport

The staff in the office was a young man who spoke English well and we completed our paper work very fast. He was so nice compared to the staff that processed our lease in Geneva (France side) a year ago. In Geneva the female staff was curt and unfriendly, she told us that three days before the end of the lease we had to call her and book a return timeslot and she would not process “walk-in” car return! We knew the time we would return the car (we had a plane to catch) but she would not allow us to book a timeslot anytime more than three days before the return date! At Toulouse Citroen Outlet the young man was so different. He gladly recorded the expected time we planned to return the car 53 days later and there was no need to call again as long as there was no change in date.

This time we had a brand new white Citroen C4 Cactus Cool that came with a sunroof. COOL! We set up our GPS on the dashboard as from our previous experience the inbuilt car GPS was not as good as our TomTom GPS

Our brand new Citroen

Our brand new Citroen

We soon found that this Citroen was a much better car than our previous Citroen. It had larger boot space and more interior compartments for our stuffs like water bottles, phones etc etc. The car GPS was good too. We found it could search a destination by latitude and longtitude which was so much more convenient than seaching by address. The maps it used were also powered by TomTom Services which we were very familiar with.

Taking a Break at Montrejeau on our way to Spain

Montrejeau was just a convenient stop for us to rest and passed the night. It was about an hour drive from Toulouse airport so the journey would not be too exhaustive for us after a long flight from Singapore to London to Toulouse. Midway into the drive we stopped at a highway stop for a coffee break.

Highway stop near the town of Capens

Highway stop near the town of Capens

We popped into “Paul” and found the cafe packed with people. On the huge overhead menu there was a couple of set meals and the prices looked definitely better than buying the individual items separately. Unfortunately communication with the waitress was such a hazzle, she did not understand a single word of English!  She could not tell me what was in the bread or the tart, she probably did not understand my questions. In the end I just pointed here and there.

An unappetising meal for €22 

An unappetising meal for €22

Our previous meal was on the plane and though we were not very hungry we were looking forward for some aromatic cafe latte and simple food. Unfortunately my poor selection for our two set meals ended up with stuffs we did not like. The cafe latte was also pretty tastless. I had always enjoyed going to “Paul” in Singapore which was considered an upmarket cafe/restaurant serving very lovely food and beverages. “Paul” in France was very disappointing very sub-standard

On arriving in Montrejeau, we drove straight to La Magie des Reves our stay (Guest House) for the night. Our stay was about 1 km off the town center, it was on a quiet country road which had big properties (big houses with big lands) on both sides. We found our stay easily as we had both its  longtitude/latitude and address.

The driveway to La Magie des Reves Guesthouse

The driveway to La Magie des Reves Guesthouse

Sometimes the co-ordinates given by booking.com could be a bit off, so I would always check using the “street view” on google map, walk along the “street” if necessary to get the precise location of the property and obtain the exact co-ordinates.

Montrejeau

After an hour rest we were ready to explore the town. We drove back into town which seemed very quiet, no other cars on the road or people walking on the street. Our first stop was a Carrefour Market just 1.4 km away.

Driving around Montrejeau town

Driving around Montrejeau town

We bought a cooked chicken, a punnet of strawberry and a bag of prewashed salad vegetable for dinner this evening and several other stuffs for breakfasts a few days later.  It was always better to do our marketing earlier than later as we were still not familiar with the operation hours.

Carrefour at Montrejeau

Carrefour at Montrejeau

Last year, on a weekend, we flew into Geneva and drove into Chamonix (France) reaching the town at about 5pm. We were doing everything slow and relaxing and by the time we were ready for dinner it was 7 pm and to our horror the supermarkets and restaurants in town were all closed. We were tired  but could not go to sleep with growling stomaches. We drove out of town and had to search for a meal all the way to the next town! It was a awful evening we were cold, tired and gouchy!

This round we were “smarter”, picked up the food first! After the supermarket we drove to Lac de Montrejeau (lake) for the a look. By the lake was a restaurant, GC Restaurant,  it looked deserted and we were not even sure if it was open. The lake and its surrounding was very quiet and calm. The only other living things we saw were several ducks swimming happily.

Lac de Montrejeau

Lac de Montrejeau

On the way back to town we stopped by a road with a few rows of “weird” looking trees. These trees had short fat branches with no leaves. Probably these trees shedded their leaves in the winter and had yet to grow them. These weird looking trees would certainly made this place eerie at night.

Rows of "weird" leafless trees

Rows of “weird” leafless trees

Our first dinner

We had our dinner back in the huge shared dining hall of our “stay”. At one side of the dining hall was a huge shared kitchen with microware, cooker, utensil etc. We could cook a meal if we wanted but since it was a long day we were not up to any complex cooking.

Huge dining room and lovely large kitchen

Huge dining room and lovely large kitchen

We warmed the pre-cooked chicken which we had purchased from the supermarket and prepared some salad with strawberry. The meal was completed with two cups of tea (teabags were provided by the guesthouse). It was a delicious and satisfying and relaxing meal

Our supermarket bought dinner

Our supermarket bought dinner

Our stay – La Magie des Reves

We had booked a room for two with ensuite toilet at La Magie des Reves on booking.com for €67.5 for one night. The cost came with breakfast. There were cheaper guesthouses/hotels nearby but they seemed “less comfortable” so we decided to pay more for some comfort. We could only hope that the pictures on booking.com were accurate.

Well, upon checking in we found La Magie des Reves truly lovely. Our room was one the several guestrooms on the second level. We had selected a smaller room (less costly) as we would be just spending a night at this guesthouse. Though the room was small it was nicely furnished and was very clean and comfortable.

Our small double room

Our small double room

We did not mind the “smallness” of our room because outside our room was a huge balcony with a great view. The guest section of this place included shared facilities like a huge sitting/lounge room, a huge dining hall and a huge kitchen. At this time in May there was no other guests but us so we practically had the whole place to ourselves!

Shared sitting lounge and dining hall

Shared sitting lounge and dining hall

Outside the guesthouse was a huge beautifully manicured compound/garden. It was lovely to stroll about breathing in the clean cool “green” air. This place felt so serene so calm so peaceful.

A incredibly lovely morning at La Magie des Reves

One of the main reasons I booked this guesthouse was its lovely view of the Pyrenees Mountain range. The balconys were east facing so we expected to see sunrise in the morning. I reminded Yat Thong that he had to wake up at about 6 am to catch the sunrise. As for me, I was not a morning-person so I was going to give the sunrise a miss.

At 6 am the next day Yat Thong was awake and went about getting his camera and gadget. I was woken from all his activities around the room but felt too lazy to get up of bed but after a while my curiousity took over and I grabbed by handphone and went out to the balcony. Wowww…. the sun was just coming up. Though it was a small bright golden ball, it rays had a huge impact on the entire sky. The area nearer to the “golden ball” was most orangy in color and this orangy tinge faded as it stretched further away. I was glad not to have missed this beautiful sunrise!

Morning view from the balcony of our stay

Morning view from the balcony of our stay

Breakfast was provided by our “stay” and was included in the price of the room. It was served in the shared dining room at 8.30 am which was our requested time. It was a lovely meal and we throughly enjoyed it. There was mixed fruits, eggs (scambled and sunny side), assortment of cheese, ham, pepperoni, coffee, juice, tea and crossiants.

Lovely breakfast at La Magie des Reves

Lovely breakfast at La Magie des Reves

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