It blew and it blew and it blew last night, winds whipping up the Autumn leaves and dropping them on Harry’s roof, all night long, I dropped off to sleep quickly last night feeling relaxed but a gust at 3 am had me wide awake, it shook the van and that was it – I was awake for a good 3 hours listening to the wind. It was a very warm night and I didn’t need my usual bed covers. We looked out on blue skies with big white fluffy clouds and the wind had dropped. Just as well, we had a longish drive today. On a motorway, no less!! Even better a free motorway!!! A very rare occurrence in France! I counted my blessings that we were on a motorway, the journey had Harry huffing and puffing like an asthmatic, there were moments when we thought he wouldn’t reach the top! I think today we really were on top of the world.
As we left Millau, I caught a glimpse of the wonderful viaduct in the distance bidding us farewell. So I had to take another shot of it! I liked Millau. We travelled down on the A75 cut through rocky mountains and up onto the plains. We were treated to some wonderful views and equally stunning skies. In the distance we could see black, foreboding clouds but fortunately we weren’t going that way.
We drove to Beziers and as it happened it was nearly lunchtime. So we took a trip to Les 9 Ecluses (9 Locks to you and me!) Wow now that’s engineering at it’s best! A series of 9 locks – one directly above the other, a queue of boats, barges and touristic vessels waiting their turn to descend to the lower level. This was ingenious and the first stone for this project was laid in the 1660’s. We watched the boats go from one level to the next, the gushing of the water as it was released from one lock to the next was frightening.
As we had some time to kill and the weather wasn’t half as bad as the forecast, in fact it’s been very warm today. I’ve even just put my shorts on and we have all the windows open! We were so close to the coast we thought a little detour to see the sea would be a good idea, I plucked a name on the map and off we went. Can you believe this, the town is dead, not a tourist in sight, hardly a car on the roads, and bloody big signs saying no motorhomes allowed between May and the 15th October!! We did park up, (miles away) and walked down to the beach. Well it was a bit of a let down made all the more infuriating by the amount of empty car parking spaces available. Next time I think we’ll just risk it and see what happens. Honestly!!!
We left and made our way to St Chinian, (not the most touristic town on the map I know) but this is where we’d planned to spend the night. We are staying on a vineyard. It’s called the Clos Bagatelle and is part of the ‘France Passion’ scheme. We bought our membership to this scheme for the princely sum of £23 and for that we received a map – littered with coloured dots and a thick book. Each dot represents an artisan, wine maker, fruit grower, farmer etc. who will let motorhomers stay on their land for the night, wait for it … Free of Charge! All they ask is that you present yourself, say hello and say goodbye when you leave. Now then if you want to buy any of their products you may but you are under no obligation whatsoever.
We arrived and were greeted by the lady of the house/vineyard, and her dog, a rather smart collie called Domino. No sooner had we settled we decided to pop into the ‘Degustation Area’ and tasted a fair few wines!! Needless to say we left with our arms full. Well we were going to buy some at the supermarket, so we may as well try something a little different. For myself I chose a Muscat which is a very sweet white wine, superb chilled as an apero but equally good with sweets or I’m thinking of the duck mousse we have in the fridge!! The Hubster chose two bottles of Red, one light and fruity and the other more round and chocolaty!! I think I’ll like that one. As we were leaving the owner handed us a bottle on the house for us to try tonight with our dinner. She was so friendly and explained all there was to know about cultivating grapes, making wine etc.
She told us to feel at home, go for a walk through the vines etc. It’s a lovely place and we are sat overlooking 40 hectares of vineyards!! Now I feel as though I’m truly in the south of France!!
I’m sorry my photos are really up to scratch today, I promise I will try harder tomorrow. It’s incredibly difficult to get all the settings right when we’re tootling along in the van. Sometimes I must admit I’m tempted to put the camera onto Automatic!!
Got a good day planned for tomorrow…aha!!