a bit of an explore

7th september 2016

first task this morning was to find the bike hire shop. it came recommended by the campsite guardien as ‘genial’ but the welcome was a tad halfhearted when someone finally appeared from the back of the shop. we mulled over the bikes and discussed prices and which day we wanted them. they don’t open before 10 o’clock and close at six so a day’s rental isn’t really but we didn’t want them for 24 hours, the next option.  that sorted, we headed for the place jean jaures where a market was happening.  en route we looked at the menu of a restaurant with good reviews but we weren’t excited by it so moved on.

up a side road we spotted a fabulous trompe d’oeil….

trompe

in the place the cafe tables, some with swinging seats, were still set out despite the stalls.  this had been one topic of our conversation last night when we were wading through the tapas that we had over ordered.

square

the sun was beating down but the trees and parasols kept things shady.  we heard a lot of english spoken and wondered if it was locals or ‘boat’ people.

cafe

after coffee and a lazy shop we took separate routes back to the tent as i wanted to see the damage the tree felling had made to the wonderful views from the canal bridge…a lot, sadly.

canal1

back in 2010 it looked like this when lou and i were last here…

canal2010

lunch in our leafy spot beside the tent on the new table and under the parasol we had managed to find a space for in the car (and were very glad we had). a short siesta and then off to visit minerve, a ‘plus beau’ village.  the roads were fairly quiet through the vineyards except for the many tractors pulling trailers full of grapes. there was a huge column of smoke rising from somewhere to the north  of capestang and we wondered where the forest fire was and if we would see canadair planes heading towards it.

smoke

minerve is built on an amazing bluff above two deep river gorges. the cesse and the brian.  parking is very well organised although you have to trust the signs that tell you to keep on going!

min1

the tourist office was shut, ‘fermeture exceptionelle’,  but the young girl in the nearby museum was able to unearth a leaflet for me about the village, notorious as the first village to have its cathar community burnt at the stake during the albigensian campaign.

min2

not many visitors around which pleased us as we wandered the narrow streets photographing quirky corners and the view from the bridge.  finding a quiet and shady corner we sipped drinks and i ate icecream.

par

a trudge back up to the car park and then a drive along a route i had planned in order to see various pretty villages along the canal.  lou reluctantly complied and even stopped for me to take photos.

lock

can2

car

the chauffeur awaits! 🙂

can3

the crunch came at le sommeil where the reality of the bridge on the map translated into a very narrow stone bridge which didn’t look as if it would take the weight of the car even if the pedestrians got out of the way. still, it was a very pretty port and worth returning to, one day….

back at the campsite we had our usual inquest on the latest arrivals and which camper van we’d like to highjack! 🙂

capestang has a good choice of restaurants so rather than fiddle with the gas ring it was back to the square and some super fish dishes at the cafe de la grille.

grille

what with that and the wine i hoped we might get some more sleep than the previous night.  plus we’d bought ear plugs that morning at the pharmacie!

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