Aubais, France - 10-24 July
Journey from Italy to France was our longest driving day but we took it easy and arrived in good time. The French Autoroutes are all toll charged but are of a very high quality. The house is really beautiful, set up in old provincial style, with old and antique furniture. It's right on a river, down a quiet lane - all very tranquil and picturesque.
The local villages are so French, again with lots of narrow cobbled lanes and old boys in berets playing boules. John Tallant arrived on Monday and it was so great to catch up with him, again. We came back from the airport via back roads, having let Mary pick chose our route without tolls. She took us through some "interesting" villages and ended up, at one point, on exactly opposite the house, the other side of the river.
Weather has been warm and pleasant so we decided to go to the Pont Du Gard, which is a Roman aqueduct. It's incredible to think such a complicated design could have been built so long ago. For lunch, we went to Uzes- a pretty, really old town. A long lunch, followed by a walk through the squares and lanes. When we got home, after the large lunch, we kept it simple with just cheese and pate. Bread from the local baker is just so wonderful. Haven't got a clue when ordering some of them but ended up with one baguette of grainy bread and walnuts - mmmmm! The wine consumption was of a much more reasonable level. We take an evening walk along the lanes and do a bit more exploring. There is heaps of wildlife here with pigeons, magpies and nightingales. There is an otter that cruises the river and the noise the frogs make is wicked sounding like a cross between a frog and a duck. They are frucking loud! Did I mention the bats, squirrels . Every house has a dog which we set off in mad barking fits as we pass them.
The river is a popular fishing spot with anglers fishing across the river from us every day. Haven't seen much get caught. The soft plastics I took along with my, as yet untouched rod, are bigger than the fish getting caught! Fishing isn't all about catching though as it's so very peaceful on the river (Vidourle).
Wed - Went to a town called Aigues Morte, that used to be on the sea, hence the big light house, however silting of the Rhone delta means it's now 5 km from the sea. We saw some Camargue horses, bulls and flamingos near the walled town. The beach development was horrid 70's apartments and houses. So different to the beautiful, old villages nearby. We went for a wander down to the sea and had a paddle. The beach was pretty uninspiring, too - topless women as the only redeeming feature. The nude beach is on our agenda, providing we pass the inspection. There is a large concrete complex down the coast that has a 5 Euro entry fee, to the nude beach - I'll probably be given 10 to stay away!
Aubais, France - 10-24 June
I only noticed the comments a few days ago and we really appreciate them, so please feel free to add some more.
We are nearly at the end of our France stay and we have had so much fun. The whole France experience has been very memorable. Surprisingly, it's a lot less expensive than we expected. Supermarket food prices are similar to NZ with other stuff like wine and beer much cheaper. We had a really excellent red, last night for 1.95 Euro (NZ $4). A trip to the local vineyard is well worth it as you can take your own plastic bottles and fill up draught wine. We got 2 x 1.5 litre bottles of red/rose for a grand total of 2.5 Euro! 3 litres of wine (4 bottles) for NZ $5 and very palatable it was, too! The Sunday lunch at a local restaurant, the "La Croque au Sel", cost 105 Euro, that's for 4 with wine and beers for 3 courses each and coffee. We had excellent food and service and you'd be hard pushed to get that in NZ for that, and no way in the UK.
The last few days has seen us visiting some more beautiful little towns and villages such as Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert ND Le Vigan. I saw some lovely clear streams and rivers, full of fish that had me drooling. Some of the countryside is so beautiful.
Food has been a real problem over here. The problematic part is the weight gain. The rich, tasty pates, cheeses, sausages as well as the bread, cakes, all conspire towards extra kilos. I am relying on our last stop in Thailand for a dose of the runs to reverse the weight-gain.
Having JT here has been so much fun that he has decided to continue on to Spain with us. He cancelled his flights and rebooked. He was able to re-organise his hectic social calendar at short notice after getting encouragement from his daughter, Emma. We have another evening meal at the Croque au Sel, tonight, then it's a leftovers day and pack for Spain. We'll miss France and the very lovely house.