Not a sunny day, but warm, with little wind and no rain, almost what the doctor ordered. Lazy day, ate our pain au raisins from the supermarket. I accessed the Internet, emailed, blogged etc, while Linda & R went off to view L’s vegetable and flower potâge. Mike had to take cycling clients to the airport in La Rochelle. Rosemary, Linda and I went out to a vide grenier (aka car boot) in a nearby village. En route, the petrol light came on, but it was easy to fill up at the supermarket under Linda’s expert tuition. She said how the government had reduced the price per litre by 5 cents, to try and boost the economy.
The boot sale was depressingly large and every stall had to be examined. But fairly early on, lunch was purchased, sausage and frites and a glass of rosé. We sat at a table with a French couple, with whom Linda chatted and who had done well buying clothes for their grandchildren. It was an all-day event; it was even open during the French lunch time period. Not to miss their lunch, many of the car booters were sat around groaning tables behind their pitch, reluctantly getting up to deal with a passing purchaser. There was entertainment with some youths playing English rock songs. They did break for lunch. Rosemary actually made a couple of purchases, a roundish shaped Ricard water bottle and an old French linen shirt come nightie.
Back at the gîte supper was dutifully prepared, BBQed spatchcocked chicken, sausages, and roasted veggies from Linda’s veggie patch. The odd glass was drained.
The Mistral really challenged my patience during the night. You could hear the gust in the nearby trees and count the seconds for the gust to turn the tent into a twisting, bulging hallucinating mess. Not the most conducive sound and sight to help one get to sleep. Slowly the clocked ticked on and 7 arrived. Dressed ourselves and packed the tent, at least it had not rained during the night, small blessings. The tent required some firm handling to control its riotous antics and to stuff it into its ever shrinking bag. At least we were not in the middle of a thunderstorm, another blessing.
Off we went on our way to Mike and Linda in Arcais where we were going to be staying in their gite. Long motorway drive all the way to Niort, should be good, French motorways are typically uncrowded. Oh yeah every blasted French person and their dog seemed to have taken to the road today. The only time the road was quiet was during the long French lunch break. Bouchon after bouchon all the way to Niort. Even a brief respite at a motorway café was a let-down. I have always been impressed by the motorway cafes on the routes to Lyon and the Tarn, but this route along the South and then up to Bordeaux was the pits. The cafes were small, and crap, mainly serving drinks out of vending machines.
Turned off at Niort, and headed to a super market at Mauze-sur-le-Mignon and stocked up with food, which, with the prospect of a fridge, we could finally do. Arrived at Linda and Mike’s where they had supper and a drink awaiting us. A pork and bean stew with Toulouse sausages. Suitably replenished we went to bed in a very quiet, dry and windless gite. Bliss.
No rain during the night, and the wind was not bothersome. Lovely bright morning, a tad nippy though. After pain au raisins and coffee we were out down to the coast to check out the sea side restaurants. We ended up down in Carro, seemingly on an island bordered by Marseille to the East and oil refineries to the West. The Mediterranean did not seem warm to touch, but was pretty rough looking, 30 plus windsurfers were making the most of the wind. It was now 12 o’clock so most of the French sailors were heading back to shore for their 3 hour lunch break.
We found a small café and I ate the classic French Mussel classic, Moules et Frites followed by Tart Tatin and icecream. Rosemary was presented with a huge Pizza.
Back to the car and a trip up the road past the oil refineries and then back home stopping for a coffee. The first town we have seen this year where there were groups of men playing Boules at the Boulodrome.
Back at home, the tent had pulled out a few pegs, must have been windy, or the soil with the drenching it has received in the last few days had grown a tad soft. I now think we have chosen the windiest pitch in the whole of the campsite. The Mistral blows directly onto our tent. Supper was the remains of the olive bread.
R and S Blasdale are out of here in the morning. Let’s hope it does not rain during the night.
Woken early morning before light by the pitter patter of rain, and thunder, Very loud thunder which made me jump. At getting up time, the rain had stopped, so breakfast and into town where we bought a roti chicken and some rustique olive bread for lunch from the market. Again stopped Rosemary from buying kittens.
Lunch over and the rain returned. Clear now, let Friday be a better day. Weather forecast looks OK.
First off to a market in the near town of Mouries. Strange things markets, they run them in the morning, with the result that by the time you come to cook your food in the evening, it has all started to breed vast quantities of bacteria and started to stink to high heaven. So though nice markets are, for those without refrigeration and not eating at lunch time, they are rather a window shopper’s paradise.
After a quick look around the market, it was off to Pont du la Gard to see this wonder of UNESCO. I have to be amazed that this stone bridge an aqueduct built in Roman times still stands. Maybe it was too large and too far away from large towns in the Medieval times to have been dismantled and turned into cathedrals and housing. Missing also the industrial revolution of acid rain dissolving the lime stone, suffice to say sufficient of the aqueduct remains to leave a very strong and beautiful engineered structure.
In recent years the French, or was that the EU, or UNESCO have spent a lot of money in building some grand exhibits. I learnt a lot about Roman plumbing, and was left wondering what happened during the dark ages between the Roman rule and eventually the Victorian age when sewers and plumbing came back into fashion. We all probably smelt rather bad. There was a lot to read and view in the underground exhibition hall. The film, (viewing available in English) was though rather trite, and spent more time on glamour and kissing couples. What we wanted were hard facts on when the place was built, why, and what renovation has been done.
Back to the campsite, and down to the local shop to buy the food for the evening meal. Maybe tomorrow as the market is in town we will have lunch cooked with market provenance. I see a lazy afternoon ahead.
Oh and as for weather forecasting, Meteo France got the sun and cloud right, but I really don’t count the extremely small rain shower, 10 drops on me, as showers.