After our early departure from Roses, we drove straight through into France the following day.
We dropped my MIL off in the tiny village of Lodeve (where her sister has a B&B), then headed to the coast to Saintes Maries de la Mer. Another beach town, another tourist spot, but it was nice and quiet, and the weather had started to improve.
We climbed up onto the church roof (amazing views…amazing vertigo), wandered the markets and tried to avoid the gypsies (these are not your glamorous, raven-haired, flamenco-dancing types, but wrinkly old crones trying to peddle their tinctures and trinkets; we’d been warned, in typical British-fashion, about the “gypos”) who go there every year on a pilgrimage to venerate their patron saint, Sara, whose crypt is in the church. We ate food that was an interesting marriage between Spanish and French, and drank more sangria.
On weekends they have an arena for French bullfighting….Tall’s sister said it was fantastic and quite different to Spanish bullfighting, but I’m quite glad we missed out on seeing any! However, I did get attacked by the local mosquitoes, which made up for the lack of bloodshed elsewhere.
The next day was meant for the beach, but once again, the weather wasn’t very nice so we travelled onto Ales (where we wandered around the Roman ampitheatre, which is still used for various events) and Avignon (a beautiful walled town with a spectacular papal palace), before joining the others in Lodeve. We went to the local pub for steak and chips and copious amounts of cask red wine – I don’t know what it is, but the French just know how to do food, and that was the best meal of steak and chips I’ve ever had.
Unfortunately, I had to return to work early, so flew back to London from Montpellier the next day; Tall stayed on for a few more days and came home with an enviable tale of going out for a fancy meal and eating the best fois gras he’d ever had…sigh, the perils of not having enough leave!
We fully intended to return to Lodeve and explore the south of France before leaving Europe, but the lure of different places was too much. However, it is unlikely that Tall’s aunt will ever leave, so we do have plans to go back one of these days. I have some pretty darn fine fois gras to try, you see!