You may ask, “What is the population of France in 2014?” In short, A LOT!! …… 66 million and we know where they all are!!?……
Yep, they are down here with us in the South of France at the beach, in Cap d’Agde! Don’t know what the sand looked like as you couldn’t see any! Beach umbrellas and bronzed bodies everywhere! We managed to squeeze Bruce into a camping spot for one night & whilst we enjoyed the summer holiday atmosphere, we soon ventured inland again!
Mark eagerly rode ahead off into the distant sunflowers & raced up the hiking trails leaving Bev in his wake!!? He is a “man on a mission!?!”……. not “Mission Impossible” either!!? Ha! In three weeks he is riding off into the sunset … actually he has challenged himself to ride the El Camino de Santiago in the first two weeks in September. The Camino Frances starts in Pamplona (the east of Spain) and follows a 1,000 year old route to Santiago de Compostela in the west of Spain. Basically – 700km up hill and down dale – from one side of Spain to the other. Check out more info here. caminodesantiago.com.au/
Bev will be intent on her own “pilgrimage” at this time. A lovely camping spot ON THE BEACH in the SOUTH OF FRANCE has been booked for Bruce for two weeks – 50m to the right is the beach of the Mediterranean and 50m to the left is a resort style pool. Minimart, restaurant and bar all on-site!! (Click here for Bev’s Campsite)
Overnighting in a rustic French vineyard / winery (France Passion) we were entertained for a few hours when a French couple ploughed their camping car straight into the sandy paddock …. Much too fast and without sussing out the terrain! We were already parked – but had chosen carefully and kept our “driving wheels” on the solid ground. Having not a clue really, they were well and truly stuck! Oh La La! Mais non!…. Hours later with Mark’s assistance and the vigneron’s tractor, they were rescued! Branches were removed from a tree that was in the way! Bev provided the diet cokes during the commotion and was surprised to find this strangely cute dog inside Bruce with her!! Speaking French to a dog seems weird … Bonjour petit chien, assis (sit), bon chien!? …. We miss Kelly (our chien).!! The following morning the French couple generously presented us with three bottles of rose from the winery for assisting them last night!!…. They were a tad embarrassed too, we think!
The directions to our next destination read:-
Turn into town, COMPS, drive through very narrow street, turn Right and drive through the BULLFIGHTING ARENA and continue straight to riverside parking which is PRONE TO FLOODING!….
What on earth!!?
We did as instructed from the AIRES book and fortunately didn’t encounter any wild bulls or flooded rivers!
The tiny ancient village of Comps was a welcome change from the crowds of the south. Guessing the population at about 20 and we had an idyllic riverside outlook.
Exploring the village we read signs;
We had arrived in time for their annual “running of the bulls” & three days of festivities!! Their own mini version of Pamplona’s running of the bulls!!
Friday evening, people came “out of the woodwork” and filled the streets! Large steel barricades blocked off all the little alleyways and created a path for the bulls! Hundreds of people gathered at Cafe de France to watch the spectacle from behind the barricade. The foolhardy took their chances by standing in doorways and daring the bull to chase them. Typical “bull running” music blared from the PA system and the excitement mounted until the deafening fire cracker sound signalled that the bulls were finally released and heading wildly at full speed through the streets towards us all!! Around the corner they came at breakneck speed. Tempting fate, one young guy climbed the street post & stuck his leg out to tease the bull! Huge crowds, don’t know where they came from, filled the town square afterwards for dinner, at long trestle tables, and to watch the grand soiree spectacle!!
Wow, the French really know how to celebrate!…. The music all stopped for 1 ½ hours while they enjoyed their dinner & conversations and recommenced would you believe with “ABBA” songs!??!
The three days of celebrations concluded with the running of 40 bulls!!!….. we missed this event as we explored nearby towns! We had seen our share of bulls by this stage!! Ha!
The trekking through Mediterranean forest leads us to Abbaye de Saint Roman. The monastery, chapel, cells and necropolis dug by monks in the 5th century!!. Medieval fortifications were added later. The top of the chalk hill, above the Rhone, offers wonderful views of Provence for us and with wild mountain goats.
the Pont du Gard aqueduct …. All amazing!! The latter, Pont du Gard, dates back 2,000 years and designed to convey water 50kms to Nimes from a source in the hills was used for 500 years. That is the definition of “WELL BUILT” and demonstrates the extraordinary know-how of the Roman engineers!!
We are deeply saddened on hearing that Uncle Owen has passed away whilst we’re overseas. Our thoughts are with Gail, Mum and Dad, Paul & Nola, Christine and all the family and friends at this time of grief. He was a wonderful man and we will always remember him fondly.