Tag Archives: Aude

Montferrand, Aude, Saturday 1st August 2014

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Montferrand to Arudy 025

Beautiful field of sunflowers by motorhome aire at Montferrand

 

We have spent 6 superbly lazy days at Adonis’s parents’ house in Portiragnes, where the most strenuous thing we did was to cool in the swimming pool and walk the dogs around the vineyard at the back of the house. It was wonderful to have that time to rest from the driving and route planning and to spend quality time with the family.

 

Chilling by the pool

Chilling by the pool

 

We were all a bit concerned during the first couple of days because Huntely, my in-law’s dog, is much bigger than poor little Beano and he just wouldn’t leave him alone, following him everywhere, walking almost above him and licking his back and neck continuously, even wanting to mount him. The first day he kept this behaviour up for 6 hours and we had to resort to locking ourselves in the van with Beano for a long siesta and afternoon break just to keep them apart. Later on, Adonis’s dad came up with the idea of throwing water from a bucket over Huntley’s back and this seemed to do the trick. So, for the next day, Peter kept that bucket of water nearby as a deterrent from Huntley’s amorous advances on Beano and just the threat of lifting the bucket was enough to stop him. Thanks to that, we enjoyed 4 days of more appropriate dog interaction, playing with the ball and chasing each other to everyone’s relief, as Adonis and I were thinking we might have to go and stay at a campsite or the new motorhome aire in Portiragnes beach, which is not that close to the Saysell’s residence, just to keep Beano safe and our sanity intact, but I am pleased to say it never came to that.

Huntley and Beano enjoying a chase game

Huntley and Beano enjoying a chase game

 

Instead, we enjoyed 2 lovely meals out, one on Portiragnes Plage, where both Peggy and I were defeated by our enormous Gazpacho starter and were unable to finish it, delicious as it was, in order to give us a chance to finish our main courses of salmon and duck respectively and our delicious puddings (grilled pineapple for Peggy and mandarine and strawberry sorbet for me).

The other even better meal was at L’Ecluse last night on the Canal-du-Midi on the way to Béziers, where we all shared a Tapas starter and we all loved Adonis’s choice of Fish and Chips du Sud (of the south), which had us all intrigued when reading the menu and later found out it consisted of small pieces of fish fried in a thin batter with the chips served in a paper cone! We were all too full for a pudding, but very happy with our meal as we’ve always been every time we’ve gone there.

 

Canal-du-Midi

Canal-du-Midi

 

Our break in Portiragnes also gave us a chance to take the van to the garage, as it was making a worrying squeaky noise, both when we were driving or when walking inside it when stationary, and we thought there might be something wrong with the suspension. Adonis kept spraying it with WD40 for about a week prior to our arrival at Portiragnes, but to no avail. Adonis took the van to the mechanic just down the road on Tuesday morning and, after 3 days there, he finally collected it yesterday afternoon, only to be told there was nothing wrong with it and the chap refused to take any payment, as the van had sat in his garage for 2 days before he actually looked at it! Still, Peter gave him 20 for his time and trouble, which we later refunded and, feeling greatly relieved that all is well with our home on wheels, we put back all the stuff we had taken out ready for this morning departure.

 

Field of sunflowers on our way to Montferrand

Field of sunflowers on our way to Montferrand

 

All set and ready to leave by 9.15 am, we said our good-byes hoping to return next summer and headed towards Carcassonne on D612, D11 and D610. Although these roads are generally good, some stretches were being re-surfaced and there was a detour by Trèbes, which slowed us right down. We even considered stopping at an aire signposted at Puichéric thinking it would be by the canal, but it turned out to be right on a hill, away from the water, so we stuck with our original plan of stopping here in Montferrand, a shady aire right by the Canal-du-Midi on D6113, just west of Castelnaudary, surrounded by gorgeous fields of sunflowers.

 

Enough to put a smile on your face

Enough to put a smile on your face and brighten up your day

 

We’ve just returned from an hour-long-walk along the canal and enjoyed the procedure of a boat going through the locks. It seemed that everyone on the walk stopped to watch and admire the lock system, which is definitely worth the wait.

 

Watching the lock in action on Canal-du-Midi

Watching the lock in action on Canal-du-Midi

 

The happy travellers and spectators at the lock

The happy travellers and spectators at the lock

 

And the lock opened.

And the lock opened.

 

We are thinking about going to the municipal campsite of Boussens tomorrow, about 60 miles west of here, but we’ll have to head north first towards Toulouse and south west from there on A64 to enjoy the better roads.

 

Canal-du-Midi

Canal-du-Midi

 

Canal-du-Midi

Canal-du-Midi

 

Canal-du-Midi

Canal-du-Midi

 

One last time, just because it's so beautiful!

One last time, just because it’s so beautiful!

 

We’ve just seen that the bourne here does not work and won’t be able to empty toilet cassette!

Gruissan, Aude, Saturday 22nd December 2012

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We’ve made it to the Mediterranean at last after a week on the road from Calais.  It is the first day of sun and blue skies since we left England and it’s also very warm (18°C inside the van at 5 pm!).  I am just loving the eastern light and the fact that we’re facing the sea, where the sun is going down gradually and bouncing off the terracotta and yellow painted buildings: a sight for sore eyes indeed.  We’re just north of the Pyrenees too, in the Languedoc Roussillon region, and we can also see the snow-capped mountain tops, just to make a perfect picture.

Gruissan 036

 

We’ve just been for a long walk around the marina and admired the luxury yachts as well as the holiday homes and tranquility of the place in the winter, but I can imagine that it must be mayhem in the height of summer.

 

Enjoying a walk around the Marina at Gruissan

Enjoying a walk around the Marina at Gruissan

 

Gruissan is just southeast of Narbonne, one of the principal Roman cities in France, and usually a very windy place, but today there isn’t a hint of it anywhere.  We’re off to Portiragnes tomorrow to spend the Christmas holidays with Adonis’s family, but we’re thinking about coming back here afterwards, as it is so idyllic.

 

The huge motorhome aire at Gruissan beach

The huge motorhome aire at Gruissan beach

 

Parked right by the sea with beautiful views of the Pyrennes

Parked right by the sea with beautiful views of the Pyrennes

 

 

Sign at motorhome aire

Sign at motorhome aire, free in the winter

 

 

Yesterday we spent the day in Grisolles, north of Toulouse (junction 68 off the A20 and then south on D820), where we found a motorhome aire not listed on the official guide (Le Guide Officiel Aires de Services Camping Car), just behind the community hall by the Garonne canal.  It had lots of spaces for motorhomes, a water tap and facilities to empty grey water and toilet, but no electricity, and it’s FREE!

 

Walking along the Garonne canal at Grisolles

Walking along the Garonne canal at Grisolles

 

We went back there after deciding that the aire at Grenade, just a few kilometres down the road from Grisolles, wasn’t really appropriate, being in a small car park by the cemetery, made worse by some road works going, with one side of the road being closed.  It didn’t really feel all that attractive or welcoming at all, so once again it paid off being flexible about our destinations.  So we made a u-turn and were very pleased with our decision.  There were only 4 motorhomes at the aire in Grisolles this morning, including ours, very different from where we are at the moment, which is also huge, but a lot busier: it must be something to do with the Mediterranean weather…

It was absolutely pouring down with rain all day yesterday and we got soaked walking Sasha along the canal, so we really appreciate the dry and warmer weather down here and will be sad to leave this region.

 

The Marina at Gruissan

The Marina at Gruissan

 

We used mainly motorways coming down from Uzerche and it’s good to know that the A20 is largely free until past Brive La Gaillarde at J.54 to Montauban, which was only a couple of euros.  The A61 from south of Toulouse to Narbonne was €20, but we didn’t mind paying for this, as all the motorhomes aires so far have been free, with exception of the €3 at La Suthe-sur-Sarthe, so we can afford to splash on better and faster roads.

 

The Marina

The Marina

 

The Marina

The Marina

 

Gruissan

Gruissan

 

 

Lagrasse, Aude, Tuesday 7th August 2012

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Lagrasse Benedictine Abbey

 

We’ve had a wonderful day in this beautiful medieval town, part of the ‘les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ (most beautiful villages in France), and rightly so, on a par with St Cirq-Lapopie.  Its name (Lagrasse) means fertile and, being in the locality of the river Orbieu, in the southern part of the Alaric hills, must help with the abundance of trees and vineyards, despite the unforgiving heat.

The main attraction here, apart from wandering in the narrow medieval streets, is the former Benedictine Abbey of Lagrasse, which goes back to before the end of the 8th century, grew quickly over the 9th and 10th centuries and by the end of the 12th century it owned about 100 churches and 10 monasteries from Languedoc to Zaragoza in Spain.

 

Monks’ dormitory and Benedictine Abbey

Steps leading up to Monks’ dormitory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We really enjoyed our visit to the abbey, which was holding a book fair today, especially the Monks’ dormitory and St Barthélemy chapel, with arched wooden ceilings and paved with enamelled terracotta  tiles dating from the 14th century: definitely well worth a visit for only €2.50 each.

It’s been an extremely hot day today and even now the thermometer is saying it’s 34°C inside the motorhome in the shade at 5 pm!

Motorhome aire at Lagrasse

 

We are staying at the aire in parking 2, which is only €3 for the night.  There’s some shade, but, although we arrived just after 11am this morning, all the shady parking spaces were already taken.  Still, we are using our awning and it’s giving us some protection from this fierce heat.  We’ve also been for a cooling swim in the river right by the abbey, very popular with families.

 

The river Orbieu, Lagrasse. Nice to cool down!

 

 

Medieval street, Lagrasse

Ancient window, Lagrasse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roman bridge, Lagrasse

 

We are moving west now after spending 5 days in Portiragnes in the Herault with Adonis’ mum and dad and Pepo, which was a very welcome and relaxing break.  It was very hot there too, so we spent most of the time in the shade by the pool, swimming or cooling down in the house.  It was good to see Pepo too before he returned to England to spend some time with his friends before the start of the school term.

 

Enjoying the summer faire at Portiragnes

 

While at Portiragnes, we had the opportunity to see the ‘Guardians’ of the Camargue riding their magnificent horses alongside the bulls, a very entertaining spectacle, just like in Arles, as well as joining the locals dancing in the evening, all part of the summer Feria celebrations.  We also had a wonderful meal at L’Ecluse Restaurant, right by the Canal Du Midi.

 

The Guardians of the Camargue

The running of the bulls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running with the bulls in Portiragnes

 

 

Running with the bulls in Portiragnes

 

 

Guardians of the Camargue horses

 

 

After our stay at the France Passion site in St Montan (Ardèche), we carried on south following the river Rhône on the D86/N86/D6086 west of Avignon and, after a bit of a drive round the D2, we found an aire not mentioned in the official guide book at Vallabregues, which looked like an abandoned municipal campsite, but still had the facilities for emptying tanks and filling up with water, plus a nice little lake to cool down.  We ended up here as the aire we were heading for at Comps didn’t have any shade at all and the chemical toilets were out of order, so we took our chances by looking at the map and tried to find a wild camping spot, which was frustrating in this heat, until we were rewarded with the unexpected oasis at Vallabregues.

Unexpected motorhome aire at Vallabregues

 

Tomorrow we are heading for Samatan in the Gers department, west of Toulouse, which should be just over a couple of hours from here, mainly on motorways, but in this heat, it’s the most sensible thing to do.