Monday, May 6, 2013

Bonjour from France

Our entry into France via the 8km Somport Tunnel was uneventful, except for the noticeable deterioration in the roads. The French side of the mountains are even more beautiful than the Spanish counterpart, which we hadn’t thought possible.

Our campsite in the Ossau Valley was small and cosy and muddy. Basically everywhere is muddy due to the enormous amount of rain over winter. We’ve had fun watching other motorhomers and caravanners get bogged.

Good weather for ducks - Lawrence cooking Confit de Canard on the bbq in the rain.
Despite its fun name of Louvie Juzon, our local town was rather dull which on reflection was a good thing. The weather was so lovely, it would have been too tempting sit in a sunny square and drink rosé all day.

Our first day’s hike was simply magnificent. Exactly what you would expect from a Pyrenean walk. Blue sky – check, snowy peaks – check, picturesque villages – check, soft green valleys – check. 11kms of bliss, starting with a long, long uphill, then a slow downhill, followed by a cold beer in a sunny square.

French Pyrenees

Picturesque or what??

Walk number 2 was a bit of trudge as my legs were protesting a bit. Another long slog uphill to see some standing stones that were outstanding only in their lack of anything interesting – a circle of rocks, that looked like something we made in Brownies camp. At the risk of sounding world weary, we saw amazing standing stones in Portugal, and these just didn’t cut the mustard. The views, of course, made up for it.

Day 2
Standing Stones my arse.
As luck would have it, we were slap bang in the middle of a small wine region, Jurançon. Despite our promises not to buy any more wine, we bought 2 bottles of the very tasty late harvest sticky. It just isn’t in our DNA to go to an interesting region and not buy wine.

The following day it rained, oh dear, the end of our good weather. Next day saw us on the road again toward Foix. The temperature kept dropping and before we knew it, we were driving through a snow storm. At the end of April. In the south of France. We walked into Foix the next day from our camping spot, wearing our German winter clothes. Puffy coat, fur lined boots etc, as the temperature struggled to get to 7 degrees. At the end of April. In the south of France.

Driving in snow Storm
Moving on, we arrived in Beziers. I had a dreamy romantic image of us cycling alongside the Canal Du Midi, stopping at pretty cafes to sip cheap rosé in the sun, watching the narrow boats glide by. Well, our camp is by the canal but our view is of 2 slowly rotting caravans. The boats tied up here are all rusting hulks. Where’s the geraniums? Where’s the lace curtains? Where's the bloody sun? We took the bus to town instead (still wearing puffy coat - At the end of April. In the south of France.) I was suffering from lack of sun and my mood was not pleasant – poor Lawrence.

Anyway, the first of May arrived bringing the sun with it. Oh, you have no idea how our mood lifted. What a joy it was to get on our bicycles and yes, we cycled alongside the Canal du Midi. My dreamy image became a reality, almost. No geraniums, but further along there were Plane Trees lining the canal and we cycled along sun dapped cycleways and stopped for rosé and pizza. 2 days of this and we were back to normal.

Canal du Midi
Next stop Lunel.

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