Tag Archives: Béziers

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!

Provence: Stes Maries-de-la-Mer, La Camargue, Monday 9th April 2012

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Camargue horses and riders

 

 

It’s been a fantastic Easter weekend and the sun has been shining most of the time, albeit windy in our first taste of the mistral!

After leaving our wonderful wild camping spot at Lac de Pareloup, we drove to explore the opposite side, as it is facing east and had the sun from early morning till evening, but the only access to the beaches there was through the campsites, which seemed to be closed this early in the year.  So now we know for future reference.

So we took the small roads D993 and D30 to Millau, where we tried to find the motorhome aire to stop for coffee, but it wasn’t signposted and we just drove through the large town to the south side on the D809, bought a baguette and cake and stopped at Le Larzac between junctions 47 and 48 on the A75, with very strange rock formations to distract us, on our way to Portiragnes to visit Adonis’ mum and dad.

We avoided the expensive Millau viaduct (€10.10) and we enjoyed the FREE motorway all the way, which was nice for a change.

We were in Portiragnes just after midday and it wasn’t long before Bramble got into a fight with Huntley (in-law’s dog) when he tried to eat his food, resulting in Huntley biting Bramble’s ear and piercing it in 3 places:  perhaps we should put studs in them and make him fashionable.

We sat by the pool for the rest of the day, sheltered from the wind by the east wall of the house: a real sun trap, which required sunblock, sunglasses and hat!

Saturday was also very leisurely spent, with just a quick trip to Carrefour for food and beer for the next few days, enjoying more sunshine by the pool, even though the water wasn’t warm enough to swim in it yet.

The day ended with a magnificent meal a Le Cep d’Or in Béziers, where we enjoyed a delicious 3-course meal for €17.50 each, which included sardine croquettes, salmon mousse and goat’s cheese gratin for starters, lamb stew (similar to Shepherd’s pie), fillet of plaice with roast potatoes and roasted chicken breast with vegetables for main course and for dessert we had gallette Bretonne, Crème Catalane and assorted cheeses.  The service is very friendly and efficient in a small and intimate setting, which also has tables on the terrace, but the weather wasn’t up to sitting outside (perhaps when we return in the summer).

Unfortunately, the wind brought the rain and we had to make a quick run back to the car, as we were all wearing summer clothes and only had one umbrella between us that I’d taken as a precaution.

I felt very tired when we got back to the house and went straight to bed, for we wanted to leave early on Sunday morning and beat the traffic on our way to Arles.

Arles and the river Rhone

This time we decided to bite the bullet and pay the motorway tolls in order to make good time and joined the A9 at J35 at a cost of around €20 in total, paid in 3 different stages, but at least we were in Arles for 11 am and found the free motorhome aire/car park right on the quay of the river Rhône and walked into town to be greeted by a very lively Easter Fiesta, with various brass bands performing at different spots in the town, huge paellas being cooked outdoors and people dancing in the streets and generally having a good time.

Paellas being cooked in the streets

 

 

Espace Van Gogh, Hotel Dieu

We managed to drag ourselves away from these merry celebrations and visited the Espace Van Gogh (Hotel-Dieu), where the artist was sent after assaulting Gaugin and cutting his ear off.  This is now a cultural centre and has recreated the beautiful courtyard flower beds according to his paintings.  I also loved the yellow arches and arcades, where some Art and souvenir shops can be found.

 

 

 

 

 

Ruins of Roman Theatre

 

We also enjoyed walking around the Roman Theatre and the Amphitheatre, wonderfully preserved, and where a bullfighting fiesta was taking place.  Apparently it can sit 20,000 spectators.

We spent some time admiring the doorway of the Cathedrale St-Trophime in Place de la Republique with its magnificent 12th century Provenҫal stone carving depicting the Last Judgement.

But the most impressive event of the day, and indeed to whole weekend has to be the jaw-dropping show of the Camargue horses and their riders (or guardians) running the bulls up and down the Boulevard des Lices, the riders trying to contain the bulls in the middle of a group of horses and young men alongside the bulls, grabbing their trimmed horns and tails to keep them under control.  We’d never seen anything like it before and were suitably impressed.

 

 

The running of the bulls

The running of the bulls

Grabbing the bull by the horns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch and a quick rest, we walked along the river walls where Van Gogh used to walk with candles on his hat.  This portion of the walk is marked on the ground with tile gravings depicting the artist and it also has red street lamps along the river (impossible to miss).

Following Van Gogh footsteps along river walls in Arles

 

We enjoyed more bands playing outside the amphitheatre to a huge crowd of people and noticed these were getting merrier and merrier and louder and louder.  Back in la Place de la Republique, we delighted listening to a very young and entertaining brass band, bought some gifts in Espace V. G., had a drink in the busy Boulevard and finished with a pizza late in the evening, admiring the sunlight bathing the town from the opposite side of the Rhône: the perfect room with a view and a great ending to a most enjoyable day.

Celebrating Easter Sunday by amphitheatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brass Band in Place de la Republique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Pont Van Gogh

This morning we drove looking for Van Gogh’s Bridge and followed the signs from the outskirts of the town, but they soon left us on the D35 south of town and ended up driving about 3 km before we realized it couldn’t be that far and did a u-turn.  Sure enough, just entering the town again, we saw a sign that wasn’t visible at the roundabout from the opposite direction and found and photographed the famous bridge.

After filling up with diesel, we took the D570 southwest to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on a very well maintained road which made easy travelling and got here for 10.30 am.

 

 

We are at a huge campsite – Camping de la Brise – with just a hedge and a fence between us and the beach, Plage Est.  It’s been very sunny and warm all day, but the wind’s still blowing (that’s how the campsite got its name, I expect).

Camping de la Brise

I’ve just taken Bramble for a long walk around the bird sanctuary in the Etang dit L’Impérial and admired the majestic and striking pink flamingos and other wading birds.

 

Pink flamingos in La Camargue

We look forward to an evening and another day in the sun: hopefully the wind will drop…

 

 

 

 

Château Maucoil, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Monday 25th July 2011

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Relaxing after bike ride in Portiragnes Plage

 

It’s been a wonderful week with the Saysells at Portiragnes and managed to fit in two celebrations: a 50th wedding anniversary at the best restaurant I’ve been to, ‘Octopus’, in Béziers, where we all enjoyed a magnificent nouvelle cuisine meal, and Adonis’ birthday yesterday, when he insisted on cooking his famous Moroccan lamb with couscous.  The rest of the time we just lounged around the pool, apart from that cycle ride to Portiragnes Plage, where I swam in the sea.

 

 

 

 

I had to take Bramble back to the vet this morning and, as stitches had fallen off and the wound was open, I was given some spray at €32: some injury!

So we set off this morning and, after horribly congested roundabout, we joined the A9 towards Montpellier and Avignon and took exit at junction 22 to Orange, past Roquemaure on the D976 and then D17 to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and then the D68 to Château Maucoil.

Chateau Maucoil, Chateauneuf du Pape

Chateau Maucoil, Chateauneuf du Pape,

 

We got here just after 2 pm, to this France Passion prime site, with some wonderful views over the vineyards and the mountains beyond.  We had usual lunch and then visited the cave to buy some of the local wine for Adonis’ birthday.  Afterwards, I took Bramble for a walk up the road, past another Château (Mont Redon) and continued uphill to some more stunning views and got a bit carried away with it all.  I made it back to the van at 5.20 pm and enjoyed coffee and pear tartelette: a perfect afternoon.

 

 

What will tomorrow bring?

Chateau Maucoil, Chateauneuf du Pape,

Chateau Maucoil, Chateauneuf du Pape,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chateau Mont Redon