A Travellerspoint blog

A Feast for the Senses

semi-overcast 20 °C

As luck would have it, a heavy rain in the night seemed to purge us of the water we were supposed to receive today. This meant that exploration was back on the menu. (woot) I started out with a two hour morning wander, while the town still sparkled from left over rain. Everything shone like a jewel and the smell of fresh was intoxicating. The flowering trees hummed with early morning bee business and the birds seemed particularly cheery and full of song.

A few glimpses of sunshine & sky gave us the courage to plan a nice country walk in the afternoon. Destination: An abandoned chapel up the road called Saint Germain. The walk there was extraordinary. While we had walked this road before, this time the rains had brought the ditches to life with the scent of herbs and many flowers. Mixed in with a new flush of poppies, were large clumps of mint, wild onion, fennel, thyme and too many varieties of wild flowers to even list.

Thanks to fellow photo enthusiast and his wife who we met on the road, we learned how to look for wild asparagus, plus how to prepare and cook them to accentuate their aromatic nature. This charming couple also brought us off the beaten path to walk an old roman road and see an incredible middle ages home made of encyclopedia sized stones fit together in an arc about 20 ft in length x 15 ft wide & 6 ft high at center arc.
Just incredible. It was here that we parted with the lovely Parisians, who were heading to his parents in Siran, and we continued on our way.
With a moody sky above, the afternoon faded into early evening as I arrived back at the Gite to make a Thai Coconut curry for dinner.
(My night to cook)

The look of wild Asparagus & a Tassel Hyacinth singled out from a field of wildflowers.
Asparagus.jpg TasselHyacinth.jpg

Posted by Vagabondage 12:25 Archived in France Comments (0)

For Whom Does the Bell Toll?

rain 18 °C

Happy Bell Day. Normally, the Church bells around here ring on the hour, ten minutes after the hour and on the half hour. They also ring like crazy at 7am, 12pm and I think it is 4pm & perhaps 7pm (I am rarely here, so those I hear the least - Significance unknown). Today being Easter means only 2 things in Pepieux: Shops are closed and the bells are going off like mad on the hour and half hour this morning. I can't even imagine how some poor chap, in the old days, kept up all that ringing. (Imagining they have made this all electronic now)

Today the mercury has dipped, the sun is napping and the sky is crying because of it all. I am sure the vegetation is just going to explode after this is over, but until then, the chill is noticeable and the heater is on.

There were a few breaks in the weather, where I managed to get out and get down into the weeds. It is amazing weather for finding things in the muck, and today I seriously enjoyed my wanderings. The river reeds were alive with snails, frogs and bugs of all varieties, it was gorgeous! Well, my kind of gorgeous!

Since frogs & snails are probably not everyone's cup of tea, how about Cats?
Every cat here is primarily a street cat. Most have owners (Or have found & adopted owners) but they run free by day... & night. Most home owners leave a bowl of water out front, this keeps the locals friendly (and not spraying) while keeping all homes relatively pest free. Oh yes, there is the odd cat fight, but having cats wandering around is a true delight.

This first little beauty with the crooked 1/2 tail & belly full of kittens won my heart from first glance.
(She never gets too close, but oh I wish she would.)
The second little man is no other than Jack. Frequent gite guest, guard of our front stoop and frisky kitty of the owners.

Posted by Vagabondage 11:16 Archived in France Comments (0)

Never Ending...

sunny 25 °C

Well, as promised, it was back to Narbonne today. Potentially our last flat out sunny day until the long weekend is over, so the idea was to make the most of it. OK, in reality we were bent on going to the beach (la plage) in the sun and Narbonne is an easy stop along the way.

The Narbonne Market, know as Les Halles de Narbonne, is a massive warehouse that houses the hustle and bustle of all things local and delicious. During our tour, we spotted the usual tapenades and olive vats as well as Persian sweet shops, an exotic array of fish at the poissonnier (fish monger) and every culinary delight in between. Seeing that we really didn't need any groceries, it was an efficient and quick tootle up and down the aisles, finished by another lovely walk down the Canal de Robine back to the car.

From the market to the beach was pretty straight forward. Leaving Narbonne, we entered a nature preserve of increasingly wind swept vistas. Down a rocky escarpment we emptied out into the sun faded village of St Pierre sur Mer... and the beautiful beach of Narbonne. With a 5km stretch of sand, it was pretty easy to pass a few hours walking, looking for shells and stopping periodically to stick my feet in the water to allow the waves to slowly sink me into the sand. I did this once for every person I could think of (that probably includes you). In spirit, I thought you could partake in a Mediterranean moment with me.
As far as the eye could see, water. As far as the eye could see, sand.
How could you feel anything but energetic and light?

Todays pics: A reminder that even without snow, there is always something to shovel! (at least snow shovels are a bit more efficient)
FYI: He is shoveling sand off of his sidewalk.
+ a pic of Narbonne. (Scenery just up from Les Halles of the Rive Gauche (left bank) with the old city behind it.)

ItNeverEnds.jpg Market_view.jpg

Posted by Vagabondage 03:54 Archived in France Comments (0)

French Fried- ay

overcast 26 °C

I am still a wee bit pink around the edges, so a slightly overcast day is exactly what this girl needs!
Can't actually say that I started this day out the way I had planned, we found our first scorpion. Yep, ewwww! It crawled out from under B.s computer bag as she lifted it. But after my usual spider trick of containing it under glass and then referring to some locals about how to deal with it humanely, I did a quick catch & release (with a broom & dustpan) and it was history (exploring its new home at a tree down the block).

The afternoon brought us to one of Les plus beau village du France (the most beautiful villages of France). Today we went to Minerve.
Perched on the end of a Limestone plateau, this village was crumbly on the outer edges, but filled with charm, and creative beauty within. We walked the streets of Minerve soaking up the quiet ambiance, the views of the surrounding gorge and watching the dance of many butterflies as they enjoyed the flowers and each other on this bright afternoon. I can see why this town rates, albeit I think Pepieux and many other villages that I have visited have just as easily won my heart. (I am a sucker for rough hewn anything after all)

Arriving back at the Gite with a winding road behind us, we decided to visit the local Cave Cooperative. There is one of these in each town and they are the agricultural cooperatives where locals can buy wine in 5 gallon jugs at a price of just over $1Euro a litre ($1.10/L to be exact)...
Oh yes, you heard me right! It's set up like a gas pump from a vat in the wall. We didn't quite need 5 liters, so we bought a few bottles of a nice local red with raspberry and spicy notes. As I drink this right now, I can tell you it was worth the 3 & a bit euros that we paid for it. Did you know there are wines around here (beyond the gas pump) that are less expensive than juice? It's hysterical to think how much we pay back home. Well, hysterical until I have to go back home and pay those prices...
Anyway, as the evening progresses, I sip and let the rest of the day fade away. It's a pretty good way to go!

Today, I bring you an interesting newel post at the entrance to a garden in Minerve, & the friendly villager we met along our way to La Cave.
Faces.jpg Arf.jpg

Posted by Vagabondage 11:16 Archived in France Comments (0)

An Egg-cellent day in Carcassonne

sunny 25 °C

Why another egg reference? Because I am missing a creative day of traditional egg painting with friends, and it has been on my mind.
Just opened the shutters to start a brand new day here. It is amazing how much of the world they keep out. Light, sound, movement, heat or cool and they add an air of fresh beginning to each day. (Happy Easter Weekend Everyone!)

Yesterday we chose to visit the walled city of Carcassonne. Even though finding street signs was a bit challenging at times, the drive was spectacular. France has become a rolling landscape of every green imaginable since my arrival. From Emerald to Chartreuse, barren trees and vineyards are now glowing with a fresh coat of green.

Arriving and parking in the newer section of Carcassonne, we set ourselves to finding lunch which we found across from the Theatre. It was yet again a Spanish Tapas Bar(La Comedie), so I ate a lovely Seafood Salad while indulging in a Sangria and we watched the world go by. When B. Had finished her lunchtime indulgence of a cafe creme, we started off towards the old city, passing art schools & sculptural street installations as we went.

A stark (but still beautiful) contrast to the green was the striking walled city of Carcassonne. Massive and awe inspiring, it was easy to see why this is the second biggest tourist attraction next to the Eiffel Tower. Wandering the cobbled streets we observed wonderful bistros, brasseries, art shops, gargoyles and hundreds of children wielding wooden swords, bows and knight action figures. We stopped for a quick scoop of ice cream, but otherwise kept walking. Partially to see everything, and partially to be finished with the tourist mob.

Regardless, it was a long day which ended with half a fresh melon each from Olivier's market and a glass of well deserved wine, or two.
Today: Lunch at La Comedie with the theatre in the background plus a couple of medieval ladies at the gate of Carcassonne.
lunch.jpg Medieval_Ladies.jpg

Posted by Vagabondage 00:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

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