“Le Bus for 1€” is one of the coolest things we’ve run into. It’s crack for the traveler. From the main bus/train station in Perpignan (Gare Routiere) it costs 1€ to go to beautiful seaside towns, 1€ to wineries, 1€ to the mountains, 1€ to just about anywhere within an hour of Perpignan. The only downside is there are so many places and not always enough time.
I don’t recall exactly how we selected Thuir for our first excursion on “Le Bus for 1€.” Maybe we threw darts or a burning bush spoke to us or the planets aligned with our horoscope or something. I don’t remember. However it came to be planted in our minds, we made our way to the Gare Routiere and climbed onto Le Bus to Thuir.
After hopping onto Le Bus, we watched the urban landscape of Perpignan quickly give way to the countryside. Rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, fields and fields of grape vines, and one after another enchanting little village danced past our bus window. I kept wanting to jump off the bus to explore but managed to keep myself in my seat until we arrived in Thuir.
Le Bus dropped us off at the post office in Thuir and the driver pointed us in the direction of the Byrrh museum/tasting room. That was the main reason we selected Thuir, but the rest of the day relegated it to just a side note.
Wandering Aimlessly in Thuir
Thuir is yet another one of those incredibly cute, old French towns with narrow streets lined with perfectly manicured, flower-dripping balconies. Geez, if you could distill and bottle that stuff, you’d make millions — and I’d be broke.
We walked this way and that and finally realized, through the magical powers of Google Maps and pre-marking wineries and other points of interest, that we were near a winery. We walked up to it, but the hours posted indicated it was closed for the mid-day siesta or whatever they call it in France. The winery was photogenic so Pat made me pose for a photo in front of it. No sooner did Pat snap the photo than the door opened and the winemaker/owner popped his head out and asked if we wanted to taste his wines. What? Who? Us? Try wine? Before you could make the sound of a cork being pulled from a bottle, we said “Yes!”
Patrick, the owner/winemaker of Domaine de l’Architecte Winery , invited us into the small tasting room in the winemaking building. We tasted the rosé he bottled that morning and a very nice Syrah. It was just the three of us, so we told each other about ourselves as we tasted the wines.
Maybe Patrick sensed that we had a great deal of appreciation for winemaking, or maybe it was just the connection we made, but he asked if we wanted to see his vineyard. Well, if we have learned anything in our years of traveling, it is to never turn down an invite. Behind a thinly veiled “if it’s not an imposition” we jumped at the opportunity.
Patrick closed up shop and ushered us into his car and drove and drove and drove. The Pyrenees got closer and the foothills became a sea of vines. With great pride, he drove us to the top of his vineyard. We got out of the car and couldn’t stop smiling. It was absolutely beautiful. 60- to 80-year-old vines surrounded us and snow-capped mountains flanked it all. He asked us how we liked his office. We just smiled.
What a great choice he made, not only in the property but in life by making his dream/passion a reality. After making enough money in his previous career as an architect, he ditched the rat race for vines and winemaking.
On the ride back to Thuir, I just kept thinking about how you never know what’s going to happen until it happens. You can’t plan these sorts of encounters. Patrick’s winery wasn’t on our radar for that day and when we stumbled upon it, it seemed closed. We always try to recognize when a local wants to share something with us and seize the opportunity if at all possible. It was a very special day and a shining example of following Travel Rule #1.
We got back to Thuir and had lunch together, swapping more stories and insights. We enjoyed the day with Patrick so much that we were nearly late for our tour of the Byrrh facility which was, as you recall, our initial interest in Thuir. We made it in time, and it was worth the trip, but it paled in comparison to our happenstance experience with Patrick.
Le Bus for 1€ took both of us there and back for the experience of a lifetime for a mere 4€. That is seriously cheap admission for a day like that!
Hike Drink Live Laugh
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