Now in Herepian
Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
26Trip End Aug 01, 2006
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Where I stayed
Now in Hérépian for 2 weeks
Isla now thinks croissants and breakfast are synonymous! Both Aidan and Isla quite accro à their visits to the boulangerie every few mornings. The French accent here quite different - bit of a Spanish lilt to it, makes for understanding more of a challenge! Villagers delighted with Aidan and Isla's bonjour, au revoir, dis-donc, merci (Isla's a bit of mixture between merci and barci)...! I have lucked out and found a lady here who wants to do a language exchange, so at least I get to practice a bit of French. Otherwise, think it will take a bit of time to meet people beyond the boulangerie, charcuterie, épicerie...
Hérépian, a small village of about 1700 people, at the entrance to Languedoc National Forest/park, quite mountainous with its own microclimate. Supposedly rare to have a frost in this valley, but then so are the rains - and we have had some good rainstorms thus far
Thermal baths (therapeutic) down the road in Lamalou Les Bains - so we feel a bit of a minority not having an arm or a leg in a sling or being pushed in a wheelchair! Provided we do not need the therapy during the 4 months, may see if there is more a spa aspect to the baths as well!
Loads of roads through little villages, with climbs and descents, new view around each bend, gorges, miles of vineyards, narrow roads through villages of stone houses with stone slab roofs....a cyclist's paradise - sorry Jerome! (But there can be snow in January up some of these hills)
Our first mountain hike of the area took us to the summit of Mont Caroux at 1059m. The path climbs through clumps of broom and heather then into a beech forest. At the summit, we were given a spectacular view of the rugged towers of Mont Caroux, the summits of Montagne Noire (Pic de Nore), a bit of the Gorges d'Héric, the beginning of the Pyrenees, and the Mediterranean sea. The stone village of Douch is at the end of the hike- reminded Ted of Nepalese villages- remote rural villages with narrow narrow roads nestled in valleys and twisty roads
On a hike here in the National Park, you may meet others walking, sometimes driving as some of the hikes follow a dirt/unmaintained road, wild boars, pheasants, deer and the everpresent hunters! There is apparently an elaborate trail system through parts of France (GR 1-??14). Many other hikes link up with this Grand Randonée system, but we need to find the book that describes the trails to have a better understanding.
In addition to the driving in France commentary: close your eyes on some of these roads! On our way to our 'mountain hike' we had a bit of road climbing to do first - along a road with white line in middle - normal under most circumstances, except when the road is only barely wide enough for one vehicle to start with!
2 November found us on a Mediterranean beach, Isla and Ted in the water, Aidan building sand castles.
12 November, we left the clouds of Hérépian (soon to be followed by >24 hours of lightning, thunder, and driving rains), to the African Reserve Park and Zoo near Perpignan. WOW. Closest safari since being in Kenya! Lions, elephants, giraffes up close - in addition to very curious ostriches!
Tuesdays we head to the market in Lamalou for our fill of garlic stuffed green olives - among others!
Aidan's first day at the Garderie here - very happy I think to be able to play with toys and people other than his sister and parents!
Re the riots that have been in the news - certainly traveled around the country, but closest it came to us was Montpellier and Toulouse - both about 1 ½ hours away. But sounds like things are settling as of this date.
Things to do: .....we have a list!
À bientôt. JTAI