Meandering through villages

Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, March 10, 2006

The weather improved quickly after we arrived, with most days being quite sunny and then clouding over in the evening. It has gone up to about 16-17 degrees, which is a lot more pleasant! Some days we haven't even needed a jacket. Today however is rainy and cool, so I decided to stay home and catch up on emails and my book while the rest of the gang went exploring.

Most days start out with pastries from the bakery across the road, then a brief conversation of which direction we should head today. Because we have a fair amount of time in the area, and Lisa and I don't have many places we are set on going, we end up doing a fair amount of meandering. In a day there might be 2-3 actual destinations, and the rest we fill with spur of the moment decisions to turn down some random road and see where it goes. Not a bad way to spend the day!

We wandered through Rennes-le-Chateau, a quaint village on a hill not far from here, where Dave went through the exhibits with Olivia while Lisa and I wandered the streets of the village while catching up. We passed through Rennes-les-Bains which is famous for its thermal springs, but unfortunately because it is the off-season the spa is closed. We have heard there are natural hot springs by the river somewhere, but have yet to find them!

Yesterday we took a drive out to the coast, taking advantage of a sunny day. I don't have quite the stamina for long car rides that these guys do though, we left at 10 in the morning and got home at 8:30 last night, most of it was in the car! Instead of going for lunch at a restaurant near the marina, I decided to walk along the beach and read my book. The sound of the waves lapping over the rocks was very peaceful, makes me miss living near the ocean.

One of the towns we stopped at was St Cyprien, which was quite deserted as it is winter and mid-week. Hardly anything was open, but there are tons of restaurants, ice cream shops, creperies, kids rides, and everything is covered in neon signage! You could see how in the summer it would be quite the gong show. Kind of like Sylvan Lake on a Saturday in August on steriods! It had a huge marina though, and it was nice to wander through looking at all the boats.

Another town we stopped in was Collioure, which was gorgeous. It has a winding road up the hill that has a great lookout over the town centre and fortress right on the beach. The old town centre is crammed with quaint buildings on narrow streets, cobbled roads, creperies and coffee shops (one had 32 flavours of hot chocolate!) and interesting artisans.

Later in the afternoon we stopped at our first winery. There are many of them around, so with Dave and I in the car I don't know how it has taken us this long to stop at one! The area we were driving through was so pretty, with gently sloping hills and terraced vineyards that ran as far as you could see. The one we ended up at was called Chateau Valmy, and we were the only people there. We had a lovely degustation, or tasting, and added another bottle to the collection.

The village we are staying in is really cute, there are 1000 or so people, but most are sort of up in the hills so it feels a lot smaller. There is a butcher, 2 bakeries, a small convenience/grocery store, a real estate agent, photo shop, salon, and 2 restuarants! That's about the extent of it. The river is right out front our window, and the other night apparently it rained a bunch because when we got up in the morning the foot bridge was flooded over and the formerly clear water was the colour of mud! Must have been quite the storm. We also have a quaint little garden patio where we can sit and watch the river, though so far it has been a bit cool in the morning to sit outside. Hopefully soon though!
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