Jour de Fête

Ste Sévère sur Indre is another delightful French village, welcoming to motorhomers with dedicated overnight free parking including water and disposal facilities and one unmetered electric point (not that I need it as my inverter is sufficient for my electrical needs).

The village’s claim to fame is that the famous French director Jaques Tati used it as the location for his 1947 film Jour de Fête. It seems to support the tourist trade here very well with a small museum about Tati and the making of the film and weekly open air showings of the film. Many of the local shops have names which evoke the film – “Jour de Fleur” for the small flower shop for example.

As far as I’m concerned the village also has a claim to infamy. The church clock bell bongs the appropriate number of bongs for each hour and then, in case you lost count, it bongs the appropriate number of bongs a second time. Kind of sweet during the day time – not so much after 10 pm when you’re trying to get to sleep …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Sleepless in France’nSpain

Rosemary is doing fantastically well. Her latest X-ray showed plenty of new bone growth and she is now allowed two weight bearing steps on transfers – bed to chair etc. Rehab should start after her next appointment at the beginning of August. I am redundant!

The first couple of nights back on the road did not pass peacefully. Anyone who has been to rural Spain will be aware of the Spanish love of dogs – not Daisy-type cosseted house dogs, these dogs are left outside day and night and, no matter the size of the garden they are protecting, they are usually extremely and aggressively vocal towards any sound or movement. This is the start of a chain reaction, by the time your ears have registered the first bark the nearest 10 or so dogs have joined in. Added to this you have the “campo dogs” – these are dogs that have been dumped and roam around looking for food and as dogs do, they form packs and happily join in the general commotion.The first Aire at Pensacola, somewhat overpriced, backed on to a sparsely inhabited tract,  sparsely inhabited by anything other than plenty of both dog types. With overnight temperatures in the high twenties it was a choice of broil or be deafened – the windows remained open. It was a long night.

I’ve got a bit bored with the eastern France/Spain border crossing so just before Barcelona I diverted inland for a slightly more westerly route over the (real) eastern Pyrenees. The journey did not disappoint. The border at Puigcerde was right in the middle of the town and I managed to top up with diesel at a Spanish filling station not 50 yards before the crossing, saving 20 cents per litre! The road on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees is a gentle-ish rise and then I was driving along a green plateau full of wild flowers and bore a remarkable resemblance to photos of Switzerland. The overnight stop was at Mont Louis an old, star-shaped fortress town. I have no idea of the altitude it sits at but overnight it was 15℃ colder than the previous night – about 12ish I pulled the bedspread over me. At 1am Daisy didn’t take too much persuasion to snuggle up close. At 3am I put trousers and a jumper on over my pyjamas. At 5am I dropped the spare bed down, retrieved the duvet and stomped sulkily back to bed – sulkily because I hadn’t had the common sense to get the damn thing at midnight!

Mont Louis and the Pyrenees

I started to realise that the altitude was a tad high when it took 45 minutes of steep, bendy driving, to get down out of the mountains. Loved every minute!

Now at Gordes in Provence I shall find out tomorrow if there is any lavender left unharvested.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Castillo de Lorca

Rosemary is improving slowly and steadily and eagerly awaiting her next hospital appointment in two weeks.

So yesterday, after the morning’s ministrations, I popped into Lorca to wander the medieval castle remains. The fortress high up on its hill dominates the whole of the town, floodlit at night it looks spectacular against the dark sky. The ruins are all the better for not having been over “restored”. The Espolón (western) tower (13th Century) required significant repairs for a ground to top 4in crack which occurred during the 2011 earthquake.

Originally a Muslim stronghold the castle was overrun by the future Alphonso X in 1244 and became a key defensive position for the northern Christians against the southern Muslims for over 200 years. After the final defeat of the Muslims in Granada the Fortaleza del Sol lapsed into disuse. With the advent of tourism the remains have been opened to the public with a large open arena for the staging of live music and other events and a hotel has been built within the castle wall’s eastern boundary. The 360 views are stunning.

🙂 🙂 🙂

What did the Romans ever do …?

Well for the Gauls in and around Orange (which of course wasn’t called Orange at the time, it’s ancient name was Arusio) in the first century CE, the Romans built a triumphal arch to celebrate their own brave soldiers who conquered the Gauls. And in the fourth century they built themselves a nice theatre which doubtless the poor hapless Gauls didn’t get to go to as they were too busy being slaves.

Amazing stuff tho’ and the theatre is actually in use tonight for a free rock gig. When I was there yesterday the roadies were busy setting up.

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Paul, Meriam, the two dogs and I are off to see more Roman architecture tomorrow, the Pont-du-Gard, it’s really more about cooling off beside the river! Temp here today was possibly in excess of 35℃, the sun is down now and it’s still 29 – hoping it cools down some more or I won’t sleep tonight. Can’t believe I’m whinging about the heat …

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

A (small) change of opinion

Moving day again and Orange (the French town, not the fruit, nor the mobile phone company) and the Roman remains were calling. But Mt. Ventoux was calling too, so I came the slightly long way round to Orange.

I do know how to pick ‘em tho’; wrong days, that is. Not only was there a cycle event going on on the route de Ventoux, there was also some kind of hiking event. In the UK the route would’ve been shut to traffic – but this is France and we all muddled along regardless. Safety elves? – stuff ‘em! Cyclists overtaking hikers (some of whom were running …), motorists overtaking cyclists, hikers/runners with motorbikes weaving about in between; then there was the huge truck with an equally huge trailer hauling a double load of trees complete with police escort! I love this country – it’s totally mad, bonkers, off piste!

The summit of Ventoux, at 6,263 ft, was a tad cold and windy and necessitated additional clothing somewhat rapidly. I’ve never been that high before and found the experience exhilarating, amazing and, with that wind, literally breath taking. I can understand why people climb mountains, the feeling at the top is indescribable – and I only drove it (it was a bit hairy at times). And those views …

I have to admit to the greatest of admiration for those hardy souls who walked, ran and/or cycled, not all of them athletic spring chickens either. I apologise to some cyclists for the rant in my previous blog, but only to those whose attitudes were very, to coin a phrase, “cycle and let drive”; indicating when it was safe for me to overtake and getting in single file to let motorists pass.

So far in Orange we’ve seen the ancient Roman triumphal arch (almost as old as you BB). Tomorrow is a visit to the theatre, amphitheatre that is. And excitement later as I shall be joined by Meriam, Paul and Daihatsu Curore, previously known as Cookie, as that was what could’ve been bought for the same price as her two cruciate ligament ops!!

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🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. I’ve since found out it was a charity event in aid of Motor Neurone Disease. Well done to all!

The Mission

I accepted my self-challenge to photograph all the water mills on the town map. L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue has 14 of them … some of them working, some of them not. DON’T PANIC. I’m not putting all of them in this post, I’d rather keep my regular reader!

It was a slightly less hot morning yesterday with a couple of showers due, the afternoon was forecast to be wetter so the a.m. was the chosen time for the project. There were indeed a couple of showers but not enough to lay the dust.

Mission accomplished

The afternoon saw no showers at all so my trip round the mountains to the colourful town of Roussillon didn’t prove to be a repeat of the Corfu experience; all four wheels remained firmly under my control, no thanks at all to the 100s (well several 10s) of maniac cyclists chasing each other down the mountains round narrow hairpin bends in the middle of the road as I was going up. Not sure how any of them survive, but at least I didn’t splat them.

Early evening light at Roussillon

Another brilliant day.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Huts and houses

The Village des Bories (village of huts) just outside Gordes is an example of dry-stone building. In the 17th and 18th centuries farmers were encouraged to clear more land and convert it to arable use because of a lack of grain and other food shortages. Land around villages was already in use and so farmers had to move further afield (pun intended). They used the stone collected in land clearance to build storage facilities, animal shelters and seasonal dwellings. The village outside Gordes grew vines, olive trees and cereals and reared livestock and silkworms. It was abandoned in the mid-19th century, rediscovered and restored 100 years later. It’s a tranquil place, in a beautiful setting.

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The town of Gordes, with houses spectacularly placed on the edge of a bluff, has fantastic views …

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🙂 🙂 🙂