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fun4all4: Trip Report to Lot, Dordogne, Paris, Normandy ... family with teen

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Greetings everyone! :-) We returned on July 19th from a fabulous trip to France. For this trip, my husband (B) and I (C)traveled with our 13 year old son, D. Our older son, 16 year old J, was on a trip to Prague, Poland and Israel for 5 weeks and so did not accompany us this time - thus, the title should really be "fun4all3."

It has been a busy return to "reality," with work, bills, laundry, email, a 3 day trip to NYC (we live in Virginia) to visit sis and pick up J at JFK upon his return, etc...

But, now, no more excuses as I finally begin this trip report. My writing style may not be as witty or skilled as that of many other posters (hey, we can't all be like MaiTai Tom), but I hope this report provides helpful information to others. We love to travel and feel so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to experience such amazing places, people, history, food, wine, .....

Before I begin, though, I must thank the many posters who, either directly through responses to my queries or indirectly through numerous threads, contributed to the success of this trip. At the risk of forgetting someone, special thanks go to Lexma90, St. Cirq, Carlux, La Tour de Cause, ira, StuDudley, moolyn, jgg, ekscrunchy, robjame, and many more!

Friday, July 6th - Departure

B was on a 5:30 flight from Dulles to Toulouse through Frankfurt. C and D were not departing until 10:00 pm on the same routing (Dulles-Frankfurt-Toulouse). This was partly because we were using FF miles and partly because crazy me did not want all 3 of us to fly without J (yes, intellectually I know it is safe, but emotionally I felt more comfortable flying separately). Thus, D and I had a long wait at Dulles and a long layover in Frankfurt with arrival in Toulouse at 6:15 pm. B arrived in Toulouse at 10:30 am so he took care of the car rental before taking the bus (6€ round trip) into Toulouse for the day. He walked around, enjoyed a Salade Nicoise for lunch at an outdoor cafe, and explored an open air market w/demonstrations going on at City Hall. No sense in wasting a perfectly good day in France, right?

Saturday, July 7th - Toulouse to Albi

So, D and I arrived in Toulouse at around 6:15pm. After a slight confusion with our luggage retrieval (there are 2 different pick-up carousels - one for arrivals from within the EU and one from without in a separate area), we headed to the parking lot to get the car and drive to Albi for the night.

And here is where the fun began! Having already clarified that the car required diesel fuel :D and trying to make sure we understood the other features of the car before leaving the parking lot, we proceeded to try to pull out of the lot. Well, no such luck. The parking brake on the Passat was engaged and we could NOT figure out how to release it. As no one from the rental agency was immediately available (or even present), we prowled the parking lot looking for someone to ask.

We came across a young Finnish couple with their 2 young kids and asked if they knew how to release the brake. They, however, were having the same trouble - after much use of the "F" word by the Finn man, he suggested that "we leave the cars and go get drunk."

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