At the risk of sounding really boring, it’s very hot at the moment. It’s kind of scuppered our plans for discovering the surrounding area. Poor Charlie is finding the heat exhausting, so for a dog who has already decided he doesn’t want to walk, the heat has totally put an end to any expeditions … or so we thought!!
We had a plan and if it worked, it would be fantastic! We had to think ‘outside the box’ as they say. What if we were to do our exploring very early in the morning when it was cooler? So the day before yesterday, even after having had a terrible night’s sleep, (thanks to all the nocturnal musicians and party goers!), we set the alarm for 6 am, we were out of the house by 6:30 and were on our way, on empty roads up into the mountains! Our destination? A village called St Guilhem le Desert. Charlie was more than happy snoozing on the back seat with the air-con on, yes even at 7 in the morning it was necessary.
St Guilhem le Desert is a small village with a population of just 256 in 2008! It is classed as one of the ‘Plus Beaux Villages de France’ (Most Beautiful Villages in France) and it’s Abbey along with the Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge), just down the road, were designated Unesco World Heritage Sites. It is located along the St Jacques pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella.
As we parked in the shady car park the cicadas were making a real racket! How on earth can such a small animal make so much noise? This was a first – a car park sheltered under numerous plane trees.
We walked into the village as it was just waking up, shop keepers opening their shutters, preparing all their wares, watering flower baskets and sweeping pavements. It is a very sleepy, little village although I can imagine that it gets absolutely packed during the tourist season. It is a beautifully, picturesque medieval village and well worth a visit.
The village itself is a labyrinth of alleyways and ginnels. It’s truly lovely and around each corner is yet another beautiful view or discovery. We were surprised to see cars driving along some of these “roads”. We had to duck into doorways to avoid having our toes driven over!
Once again, this tiny village is home to an extremely large abbey! I read somewhere that the cloisters had been taken over to New York!! The huge buildings gave some welcome shade and Charlie did a sterling job climbing up and down the steep slopes. The gardens of the Abbey were lovely with Bougainvillea and lavender covered in little white butterflies.
We finished our trip by sitting at a little cafe in the town square in the shade sipping espresso, (we needed the shot to keep us awake!) Charlie had his drink of water and got his breath back! I was really proud of him. We started up the car and let it run with the air-con blasting out so that the car was icy-cold by the time we put the hairy beast back in. He slept all the way home, his little legs twitching, no doubt dreaming about his walk!
The trip back was very scenic and we did drive over the Devil’s Bridge, unfortunately there was nowhere to park except for allocated parking that was quite a distance away and as there was no shade whatsoever we decided to give it a miss. We’d seen the view as we drove over and it was enough, we really didn’t think it would be fair to expect Charlie to walk anymore!
And so our plan worked, we were able to get out and about, not too hot and not too busy!! Charlie enjoyed his day out and we loved it. I can say, for my part, it was lovely to get out of the city for a while.
So now we can go where we want, it’s just a matter of getting up really early! Last night we had another free concert outside our window, this time it was Latin Rock. It started at 9.30 pm finished at 12 midnight and then as per usual the locals set up again, this time it was drum players, it went on until well after 5 am! I can’t tell you the headache I had this morning. I would love to know what these people do, don’t they have jobs? Don’t they have to get up in the morning? Ah well, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we have 5 more nights of concerts!!! I daren’t look to see what tonight’s is all about – Please don’t let it be Punk rock!!! I think I’ll be trying to get an early night, although I somehow doubt that’s going to happen!! And as if to add insult to injury, my sister kindly reminded me that we have the 14th of July on the horizon!! Maybe we’ll book into a hotel out in the countryside!!